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Hill Farming

Volume 502: debated on Monday 7 December 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate he has made of the number of farmers in the English uplands required to maintain adequate land management capacity. (303631)

The 2007 June Survey data suggest that the number of holdings in the English uplands (Severely Disadvantaged Areas) has increased by approximately 3,000 since 2000. This increase has largely been driven by an increase in small (less than 10 hectares) holdings. There appears to be no change in the number of holdings greater than 10 hectares in size over the same period.

DEFRA recognises the vital role which upland farmers can play in delivering landscape and environmental benefits, and will, therefore, introduce the new Uplands Entry Level Scheme (Uplands ELS) in 2010. Uplands ELS will reward those upland farmers who deliver existing good practice, as well as encouraging positive change. Unlike the current Hill Farm Allowance scheme, Uplands ELS will be open to all farmers in the English uplands, provided they meet the rules.