Minister for the Natural Environment and Land Use and Copeland MP Trudy Harrison recently hosted a series of ‘pie and pea’ suppers for farmers in Cumbria, and the CLA North’s Communications Manager Henk Geertsema attended one such event in Bootle.
Discussions revolved around the newly published prospectus on environmental land management schemes, with many farmers expressing their frustration at the complexity of the content, with calls for more clarity on the details contained within different farming support options, as well as the timings of respective launch dates for these schemes.
At this meeting, the CLA called on the MP for closer collaboration between ‘pigeon-holed’ government departments to ensure a more cohesive government strategy to unlock the full potential of the rural economy.
Baroness McIntosh held a farmers meeting at Thirsk. She wanted to know what was happening with Cross Compliance (XC). This would be replaced with a new proportionate process. She remained concerned how the changing legislation would affect XC.
The farmers attending were troubled by the lack of detail on the ATP and the time it was all taking to be published. They were pleased that the Countryside Stewardship (CS) rates were increased, however, some that had agreements starting before January 2023 were very unhappy that their capital item costs had not been increased.
CLA North’s Rural Adviser, Jane Harrison raised the issue with the RPA that there was a lack of detail on how to withdraw a capital item and re-apply to benefit from the increased rates.
Tim Farron MP for Westmorland and Lonsdale held a farmers meeting at Junction 36, with presentations by Defra and the RPA on the ATP. He had concerns regarding CS payments being based on income foregone v costs. This, he said, was a Ministerial decision and one which he considered to be the least worst option. However, it did not reflect the environmental value of the work being done. He believes that Trudy Harrison MP agreed with him and was going to go back and look at this.
Issues raised included: SFI will not make up for the loss of BPS and take-up in the uplands likely to be low as the payments are so low; the service given by CS staff needs to be improved; there was no mention of timber production and there needs to be an integrated approach; Cumbria will lose 95% of its Ash trees and the Tree Health Pilot does not support the felling of Ash only re-stocking; trees should not be planted on good land; there continue to be problems with mapping updates when cover changes and parcel numbers change or disappear.