ARCHIVE: England Rural Development Programme

Hill Farm Allowance (HFA) Scheme

The Government has a long history of providing dedicated support to beef and sheep producers in the English Less Favoured Areas. This is in recognition of the difficulties they face and the vital role they play in maintaining the landscape and rural communities of the hills. This support continues under the Programme through the Hill Farm Allowance Scheme from 2001.

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The aim of the scheme is to help preserve the farmed upland environment by ensuring that land in Less Favoured Areas is managed sustainably; and to contribute to the maintenance of the social fabric in upland communities through support for continued agricultural land use.

HFAs comprise basic area payments with optional top-up payments for environmental enhancements and a reducing safety net from 2001-2003 to cushion those who are potential losers in the move to the new system. This is a significant move away from production subsidies to support for the social and environmental goods hill farmers provide.

To be eligible for payment, a farmer must have at least 10 hectares of eligible forage land within the LFA on which he or she maintains suckler cows or breeding sheep. Different payment rates are made for different categories of land. To qualify for environmental enhancement payments, farmers must meet one or more specific criteria, for example, by maintaining stocking rates below set levels.

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