A HILL farming family near Kirkby Stephen hosted a visit by Ross Murray, national deputy president of the Country Land and Business Association (CLA).

Sally and David Dixon, and son Alex, farm at Hartley and were among a number of farmers and landowners Mr Ross visited while on a two-day fact-finding mission to Cumbria.

He also visited the J36 Auction centre and Dallam Tower, near Milnthorpe, to hear local concerns and update members on the CLA’s latest lobbying campaigns and successes to help the rural economy.

The Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) reform and how it will impact on hill farms, excessive red tape and the poor provision of broadband were all high on the agenda.

Mr Murray, who runs a farming estate near Abergavenny, South Wales, said: “Many Cumbrian hill farmers are struggling to recover from last year’s harsh winter as well as volatile market prices for livestock.

“The CLA has successfully lobbied for the redistribution of CAP payments to benefit farmers in the uplands but it is clear there is still some way to go to get local farmers back on to a level playing field.”

  • The NFU Council this week said the NFU is “emphatically not opposed” to a lift in payment rates for the moorlands.

It recognised that moorland farmers are vulnerable and have fewer options which is why it wants further analysis on the overall impact of various planned changes on different categories of farmers before it can take a definitive decision.

The NFU supported the alignment of payment rates for the lowlands and the SDA non-moorland regions. The most important consideration would be the shape of the new environmental land management scheme (NELMS), which will replace the Entry Level and Upland Entry Level Schemes.

The CAP budget has been reduced and modulation will be increased in future.

The Council said: “The only way to increase payments to farmers in one region is to reduce them in the other two regions.

“The NFU’s consistent position has been that the negative effects of the CAP Reform must be shared as fairly as possible.

Decisions on increases in the payment rates must therefore be based on clear evidence.”