100 hill farmers meet with Defra on post-Brexit schemes

The Uplands Alliance brought together over 100 hill farmers with Defra staff
The Uplands Alliance brought together over 100 hill farmers with Defra staff

Over one hundred hill farmers have met with Defra officials to explore how the industry can create a brighter future for their businesses and the environment.

Upland farmers from across England were keen to stress how many public benefits they already provide and how they can provide more with the right levels of support.

They also reminded Defra that these public benefits are delivered alongside producing high quality food.

The Upland Alliance, which conducted the meetings, have released a report that highlights farmers' key asks to the government for the proposed Environmental Land Management scheme.

Once the UK leaves the EU, farmers will be paid to provide public benefits including biodiversity, carbon storage, clean water and heritage landscapes.

Highlighted in the Upland Alliance's report following the meetings, hill farmers are asking for long term schemes of up to 25-years that would allow business planning and delivery of environmental benefits.

They also ask for payment rates need to be sufficient to ensure business viability and should pay for delivery of existing good practice as well as improvements.

There should also be a flexible approach to delivery focusing on outcomes and forms that can be filled in by the farmer which would result in a higher commitment to delivering outcomes, the report says.

Government officials also heard how leaving the EU will result in the biggest change for seventy years in how farmers are supported.

The meetings were held in Bodmin, Dartmoor, Exmoor, Shropshire, Peak District, Yorkshire, Cumbria, Durham and the South Pennines.

The Uplands Alliance is a network of farmers and conservationists all with a shared interest in creating thriving uplands.