FARMERS across the region are being encouraged to sign up to agri-environment scheme agreements which could benefit them financially.


Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority

(YDNPA) has expressed concern about a fall in the number of Dales farm holdings in agri-environment scheme agreements.

The schemes pay farmers grants to encourage environmentally-friendly farming practices.

Latest figures from Defra suggest that around 200 Dales farms – nearly one in five – have decided not to put land into the Countryside Stewardship scheme after their previous five-year Environmental Stewardship agreements expired.

The Authority believes the impacts on the local economy and on the environment are significant.

National Parks England says that, compared with 2015, the area of farmland in the ten English National Parks under paid-for environmental management has dropped by nearly 20 per cent.

Senior Farm Conservation Adviser at the YDNPA, Helen Keep, said: “The difficulties with Countryside Stewardship have pushed some of those farmers, who were already struggling to make a living, towards more intensive land management in order to fill the financial gap – typically £10,000 per year."

Neil Heseltine, a farmer and the YDNPA Deputy Chairman, added: “It’s a fact that the current agri-environment scheme, Countryside Stewardship, which replaced Environmental Stewardship in 2015, has not been attractive to Dales farmers."