NFU president Tom Bradshaw raised the plight of upland farmers in his first meeting with the new Defra Secretary, he said during a media event on the first day of the Great Yorkshire Show.

Mr Bradshaw, who met with Steve Reed and Farming Minister Daniel Zeichner on Monday, said two key areas are stocking densities in the uplands and rotational options that have become fixed options, as well as payment rates within the legacy HLS schemes.

“Economic growth is a critical part of the Government’s objectives,” said Mr Bradshaw. “It’s an absolutely key priority, and when you look at the role of farming within that, it’s the raw ingredients, it’s the diversification that farmers provide, it’s managing that natural habitat – the vista that millions of people come to visit each year is managed by farmers - and if we take farming for granted, if we don’t recognise the role of being at the heart of our communities, then I really worry where we are going to end up in the future.

“Particularly for some areas of Yorkshire, the upland areas where there the transition has been particularly challenging away from the old support schemes to the new support schemes.

“One of the areas I raised with (the Secretary of State) was the transition away from the old support schemes to the new support schemes needs to be absolutely seamless. One of the areas that is particularly important for the uplands is that they have been reliant on the higher tier high level schemes. At the moment those schemes haven’t had an uplift in their payment rates.

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“If there’s one area that would be an easy win for the new government it would be to say, rather than pressurising everybody to transition to the new schemes which aren’t necessarily in place, why don’t we equalise the payments in HLS – give them an uplift – so they match the other schemes, and remove the pressure from everyone migrating out of those schemes at once.”

Asked whether Mr Reed had taken this on board, Mr Bradshaw said he remembered it being raised during an election campaign visit to Cumbria, and added: “It has resonated that there is a challenge in our upland areas. I committed that we would raise it at an early stage. I’ve done that, and now we await to see whether they are looking to make small tweaks which would make a big difference to our upland members.”

He also discussed the agricultural budget, flood recovery fund, and food security.

“We’re obviously at a turning point in our politics with a new Labour Government being elected, I think the relationship with them and the direction that they take for the future of farming and the priorities within Defra is going to be critically important for how farming can deliver for the rural economy,” said Mr Bradshaw.

“Making sure we have a plan for feeding 70 million people on this island is absolutely crucial and Yorkshire farmers are here to more than play their part in delivering food security.”

William Maughan, northern regional board chairman for NFU, who farms a mixed enterprise on a tenanted farm on Raby Estate, said the new Labour Government’s manifesto had been “a bit light on detail” but the union had been meeting with candidates of all parties in the region in the run up to the election.

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“The lack of detail on the budget going forward is a concern,” he said. “It’s been stagnant for years now, and of course with inflation, that means there’s been a real terms fall in the budget. So, if they want to deliver on some of the ambitions they have, then the budget is going to need looking at. Of course, it’s hard, the country’s under pressure, everything is a balancing act. But the countryside has a lot to offer.”