Dales farmers looking to increase incomes can attend two evening events this month, when updates on grants and payment schemes will be presented.

National Park Authority officers with expert knowledge of Defra environmental land management schemes will be on hand to give advice.

Recently, Defra released a significant update on its Sustainable Farming Incentive and Countryside Stewardship schemes, making the meetings particularly timely.

Officers will also speak about ‘Farming in Protected Landscapes’, a three-year government-funded grant scheme being administered in the Dales by the National Park Authority, as well as the various ways to earn income from woodland creation on farms.

The Member Champion for the Natural Environment at the National Park Authority, Mark Corner, said: “Farmers in the National Park may have enjoyed strong livestock prices in the past couple of years, but incomes have been hit by sharp rises in input costs and the beginning of the phasing out of the Basic Payment Scheme.

“We can give assistance and advice that could help farmers find a way to fill the gap.

“Payment rates for Countryside Stewardship options have increased markedly this year. We strongly encourage farmers to look carefully at how Countryside Stewardship can work for them; we can provide help and advice with the application process.

“The cash farmers can earn from maintaining new woodlands has also gone up, while our Farming in Protected Landscapes programme would be another way to bring in money.

“At least three National Park Authority staff will be at each meeting to answer any questions about these potential income streams. I warmly invite farmers to come along to the meetings for an informative presentation followed by discussion.”

Meetings are at North Ribblesdale Rugby Union Football Club in Settle on February 20; and Reeth Memorial Hall on February 22. There will also be an online webinar on February 28.

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