The CLA (Country Land and Business Association), held a meeting (25 March) with Skipton and Ripon MP Julian Smith. CLA members gathered at Bolton Park Farm near Skipton to raise various farming concerns and government policy matters as it relates to rural areas.
Discussions specifically covered related issues and included:
- Agricultural input costs – especially fuel and fertiliser costs
- Agricultural Transition – Basic Payment Scheme reduction, replacement income streams, new entrants and retirement programme
- Farming Productivity Funding – including slurry investment fund and animal health and welfare pathway
- Environmental Schemes – scale-up of the Sustainable Farming Incentive, evolution of the Farming Resilience Programme, the introduction and roll-out of Local Nature Recovery and Landscape Recover opportunities. Specifically how these programmes will fit with Local Nature Recovery Strategies and blend with private finance opportunities
- Private Sector Natural Capital Investment - Carbon trading & Biodiversity Net Gain
- Levelling Up the rural economy – focussing on the government’s recent ‘levelling up’ report, and its omission of issues associated with the rural economy. One aspect related to the CLA’s call for Northern Powergrid to invest in its grid network so the rural areas are prepared for the future demands for electricity (e-cars, air source heat pumps etc).
The CLA has 323 members in Skipton & Ripon who collectively own and manage 121,000 acres of land, representing one quarter of the total constituency area.
MP for Ripon and Skipton Julian Smith said: “It was great to meet local farmers and landowners along with the CLA last week. During the meeting, a wide-range of issues were discussed including the rollout of Environmental Land Management Schemes, environmental protection, domestic food production and fertiliser and energy costs.
“I continue to follow the rollout of ELMs very closely and I will keep engaging with farmers and landowners in my constituency as we transition away from basic payments. It is, of course, absolutely vital that the sought outcomes from recent policies in the agricultural sector have the support and participation of farmers and landowners.”
CLA Director North Lucinda Douglas said: “The CLA and farmers attending this event highlighted the very real pressures they currently experience. The economic volatility has led to drastic increases in fertiliser and fuel input costs, coupled with a reduction in government farming support under the Basic Payment Scheme.”
“This means that farmers are caught in an ever-tightening vice-grip of increased costs and diminishing support. If not addressed, the UK’s food security would be impacted, with food scarcity and higher costs to consumers.”
“Replacing the existing government farming support is mired in delays, and this needs to be addressed urgently. Farmers simply want to fill food baskets and look after the environment, but their mission to do so is compromised if they are not supported in this endeavour.”