TENANT farmers in upland areas like the Yorkshire Dales and the Lake District are failing to benefit from new Government legislation designed to improve the environment, an official enquiry has been told.
They are also suffering from unfair competition on livestock prices from large Irish farms which have driven down meat prices, says the Tenants Farmers’ Association. (TFA) As a result, the future of hill farming is at risk.
This is part of the evidence given by the TFA’s upland spokesman, Mike Keeble, to an enquiry being held in Penrith by the Commission for Rural Communities.
He pointed out that many of the Government grants available – for projects like restoring stone barns, a key feature of the Dales landscape – benefitted the owners of the land and property but not their tenants.
And agri-environment schemes designed to reduce the number of grazing animals were actually depriving tenant farmers – already facing increased competition from large-scale Irish producers – of the chance to make a decent return from their livestock.
“The future of upland farming and the communities which rely upon it requires that upland farmers receive a fair return from the market place which currently is not happening” said Mr Keeble.