There will be 2 NPS members attending the Defra Smallholders focus group next month so we would like to gather any relevant comments from other members as well. These will be collated and those attending can ensure as many of them as possible are raised during the discussions.
The following initial concerns were noted during the last committee meeting:
- Many smallholders are unable to claim the Single Farm Payment as they have less than the 5ha minimum. This would be valuable extra income and is likely to be reinvested in the land.
- Lack of capital grants payments for environmental improvements; the only grants available are via Stewardship schemes which require complicated agreements and generally apply to larger farms only. Would suggest a simple capital grants/environmental management scheme be available for smallholders.
- Ear tags frequently get torn off both sheep and cattle leading to flystrike etc. We need a better system of livestock ID to avoid animal welfare issues.
- A technical advice service of some sort would be beneficial as many smallholders are relatively new to farming.
- Flood management measures to help alleviate flood risk downstream may well find interest amongst smallholders eg creation of woodland buffers, water features.
- Assistance with training. We have numerous ideas for training in the North Pennines but have quickly realised this comes at a cost. Scottish smallholders appear to have access to government funding and expertise for training sessions and that could be a good model for DEFRA to follow.
If anyone has a particular topic or concern they would like to see raised then please send full details through to Walter Walker ( firstname.lastname@example.org )