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Warm welcome for changes to farm payments

[Monday 05 January 2009]
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CHANGES to the way hill farmers are paid for helping to look after the country‘s uplands have been welcomed by the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority (YDNPA).

Authority chairman Kevin Lancaster said he was pleased Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Hilary Benn and his officials had taken notice of the views of the people at the forefront of the protecting the countryside.

The £31million Upland Entry Level Stewardship scheme replaces the hill farm allowance that was paid to upland farmers.

It aims to ensure that farmers are supported and rewarded in their efforts to maintain England‘s historic upland landscapes – including their dry stone walls and hedge banks.

I hope that we now have a practical and workable scheme and that the vast majority of the money set aside for it will find its way into the pockets of our hard-pressed hill farmers.

Kevin Lancaster - Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority

Mr Lancaster said: "As a farmer myself as well as chairman of the National Park Authority, I welcome the changes introduced compared with earlier proposals for the scheme.

"I am pleased that ministers have responded to points made by farmers, their representatives and National Park Authorities including our Farm and Countryside Officer Adrian Shepherd, the Authority‘s Deputy Chairman Harold Brown and myself.

"I personally attended a number of events in November including the House of Lords Reception for upland farming in England's national parks and an event in Leeds led by Natural England at which Hilary Benn spoke.

"I hope that we now have a practical and workable scheme and that the vast majority of the money set aside for it will find its way into the pockets of our hard-pressed hill farmers. We are now looking forward to working with Natural England and others to make sure that the scheme benefits as many farmers as possible within the National Park."

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