Rishi Sunak meets upland farmers to discuss new payments system

Rishi Sunak with upland farmers at Abbey Farm, Ellerton Abbey in Swaledale.

Rishi Sunak has met upland farmers to get their views on the transition to the new support payments system.

Mr Sunak met members of NFU Leyburn and the Swaledale Sheep Breeders’ Association at Matt Barker’s farm in Swaledale.

He did so as the Government announced further improvements to the payments which support farmers in upland areas like the Yorkshire Dales and North York Moors.

Following feedback from uplands farmers and industry representatives, the government announced it is:

  • Making payment rates in environmental land management schemes equal for both upland and lowland farms where they are carrying out the same actions. This means increased rates for upland farmers in four Countryside Stewardship options including management of grassland with low inputs where the rate will increase from £98 per hectare to £151 per hectare.
  • Reviewing and amending a further seven Countryside Stewardship options make them more accessible to upland farmers.
  • Improving engagement with upland farmers with focused advice and support to help them access schemes.

During his visit to the Barkers’ family-run Abbey Farm at Ellerton Abbey, near Reeth, Mr Sunak listened to the views of a group of about a dozen hill farmers and also toured the farm where the Barkers have a herd of Parthenaise cattle, renowned for their easy calving and lean, low cholesterol, meat, and 700 breeding ewes.

Earlier, Mr Sunak, MP for Richmond (Yorks), met farmers at the Friday sales held at Leyburn Auction Mart.

Afterwards he said “I want to pay tribute to our upland farmers like Matt and his colleagues who not only deliver some of our finest produce, but also act as the guardians of some of our country’s most iconic landscapes.

“As we work to deliver a fairer, more sustainable farming system outside the EU, we are determined to make sure their interests are at the heart of these efforts. That’s why we’ve set out a range of new support to ensure that they feel the benefits of our new schemes for years to come.”

Mr Sunak said the meeting was part of process of continued listening to the farming community to develop the Environmental Land Management (ELM) system in place of the old EU Common Agricultural Policy.

He added: “This is a seven-year transition process and ELM is being continually developed and improved. I very much valued the opportunity to hear first-hand from upland farmers about what they thought about the latest announcement and also the improvements announced earlier this year.”

Matt Barker said: “It was really useful to get our points across face-to-face and Mr Sunak was really engaged and took our views on board.”


  1. Let’s hope he does more than he did, when I asked him to save the local bank branches.

    • I’m sure this will go through.
      It involves money and not people, the only thing he appears to be any good at dealing with!

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