Mel Stride

    CENTRAL DEVON MP Mel Stride visited Dartmoor National Park HQ in Bovey Tracey today (24/08/17) to discuss a range of local issues with Chief Executive Kevin Bishop and Chairman Bill Hitchins. At the top of the agenda was the future of farming support within the Park post-Brexit. The pair also discussed ways to improve rural productivity and the Moor Otters public arts initiative which aims to support local businesses and raise money for good causes such as the Junior Ranger programme and conservation of the National Park.

    Mr Bishop said:

    “With Mel having organised the Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Michael Gove to visit Dartmoor last week, where a number of farming related matters were discussed, we were eager to get together again to build on that meeting.  Environmentally friendly farming systems are essential to the future of the Dartmoor landscape and its communities. We were pleased to hear from Mel that the Government is looking at a more flexible and locally-led approach to agri-environment schemes post Brexit.  We believe that the Dartmoor Farming Futures pilot offers a potential blueprint for schemes post Brexit – it is farmer-led, focused on delivery of clear outcomes and is supported by a wide partnership of organisations including the National Park, Dartmoor Commoners’ Council, Duchy of Cornwall, Natural England, Rural Payments Agency, South West Water etc.”

    Mel added:

    “Ensuring a good deal for our farmers must be among the Government’s top priorities for Brexit. It is right that the Prime Minister has promised to keep farm payments at the same level until 2022 to give the industry time to adjust to the impact of Brexit and I will continue to fight in Westminster for the £3billion of support the industry currently receives to continue beyond this point. However, it is likely that farm subsidies must be earned rather than just handed out in future with pay-outs linked to measures that protect the environment and enhance rural life. This would be particularly beneficial to Dartmoor and will strike a balance between supporting our farmers and protecting the environment.”

    During their meeting Mr Stride agreed to chase up DEFRA on Dartmoor and Exmoor Rural Productivity Network proposals that were put forward in 2016 which would establish a demonstrator initiative to deliver improved rural productivity and growth.

    Photo: Central Devon MP Mel Stride discussing the future of farming within Dartmoor National Park post-Brexit with DNP Chief Executive Kevin Bishop and Chairman Bill Hitchins.