Upland farmers forgo food to farm
Hill farmers are cutting basic living necessities, such as food, to keep their farms viable, according to two reports issued by Oxfam and the National Farmers Network (NFN).
The two reports highlight the problems and pressures hill farmers face and the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) said the results came as no surprise.
Oxfam’s report, entitled Challenges Facing Farmers, showed that cash flow problems forced some hill farmers to take drastic action and meant they had to cut back on weekly grocery bills and slash costs to keep their farms going.
A meeting was held in London last Friday to discuss the outcome of the two reports, which NFU upland chairman Robin Milton attended. The meeting was chaired by the Government’s Rural Advocate Stuart Burgess.
Milton said: “Sadly, these reports don’t come as much of a surprise to me. They show the great uncertainty that now faces hill farmers. The combination of squeezed incomes, due to rising costs of livestock feed and rents, alongside huge uncertainty over the future targeting of both Single Farm Payment and Environmental Stewardship schemes are having a profound impact on farmers’ confidence.
The upland chairman highlighted how delicate a balance it is for the upland farmer in times of its social and economic structure. He also explained the CAP reform would most likely determine the future of family farming and said the NFU was arguing for Ministers to listen more closely to people on the land when looking at regulation and payment regimes.
He added: “These farmers need respect, as they look after the uplands on a daily basis and make sure these iconic landscapes are maintained and accessible to the public. It is absolutely vital they are treated fairly and rewarded for their hard work.”