Upland farmers in Wales need a strong advocate

TFA Cymru Chairman Dennis Matheson has called upon the Welsh Upland Forum to work harder to act as an advocate for upland farmers in Wales.

In responding to the Welsh Government’s consultation on the performance of its Upland Forum, TFA Cymru welcomed the fact that it existed but noted that it needed to work harder to ensure to have a bigger influence over Welsh Government decisions impacting upland areas and that it needed better representation from the tenanted sector of agriculture.

“It is important that the Upland Forum continues to have representation from those who live and farm in the upland areas of Wales. These individuals will have a real grasp of the nature of hill farming and the challenges that the environment presents, thereby offering a practical insight which will be of value when considering new policy developments for the uplands particularly in respect of the forthcoming Rural Development Programme for the Welsh uplands,” said Mr Matheson.

“Unsurprisingly TFA Cymru also believes it is a must that representatives of the Forum have a working knowledge of the landlord/tenant system within agriculture given that in the uplands, there is a greater proportion of tenanted holdings than in the lowlands. TFA Cymru would therefore like to recommend individuals with this experience to join the Forum,” said Mr Matheson.

It is particularly important that the Upland Forum addresses the very real concerns of livestock farmers in moorland areas above 400 m who will see their support cut dramatically from the beginning of next year.

“TFA Cymru has a number of members farming in moorland areas in the uplands who will be affected considerably by the cut in direct payments receivable from 2015, to around €20 per hectare for those above the 400m moorland line. This cut in direct payments will render some farms unprofitable and if additional funding is not made available to affected businesses, the future of the upland environment will be in jeopardy. Moorland farmers above the 400 m line do not feel that the Upland Forum has represented their interests sufficiently well so far,” said Mr Matheson.

“The Upland Forum must make it a priority to ensure that it executes properly its function to ‘upland proof’ all new policy and make certain that the next Rural Development Programme for Wales includes a dedicated scheme focused on grazing livestock systems in moorland areas to achieve both farm business and agri-environment benefits,” said Mr Matheson.

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