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Moorland lines can be appealed.

Byline: By Jennifer Mackenzie

The NFU is urging upland farmers who do not agree with the designation of some of their land as moorland to find out more about the Moorland Line appeals process announced by Defra last week.

Moorland, within the severely disadvantaged areas (SDAs), is the third "region" on which farmers will be paid under the new single farm payment scheme, part of the CAP reforms announced earlier this year.

Moorland has a specific definition, but farmers now have an opportunity to revise the status of parcels of land on their farms.

Will Cockbain, a Keswick farmer and the NFU's Less Favoured Area spokesman, said: "This is an important stage in the new CAP reform timetable for upland farmers. The position of the moorland line on a farm has implications for the level of support that the farmer will receive under the single farm payment and some farmers believe that the moorland line is not an accurate reflection of the type of land they farm."

Defra's announcement will allow farmers who want to make representations on the position of the line, to do so between now and September 24.However, the onus is on the producer to contact the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) to request an information and application pack. There will be no automatic mailing to hill farmers.

Mr Cockbain said: "Firstly, the farmer needs to check the current position of the line, which is best done via the internet.

"Secondly, the farmer needs to assess whether the land within the moorland line can now be described as improved or semi-improved grassland. This is the key factor in determining whether the land should be reclassified and excluded from within the moorland line.

"The appeals process only applies to larger blocks of land, as the minimum area for reclassification is five hectares. And farmers should also be aware that the review looks at the classification across the whole holding: this might reclassify other land as moorland, taking away any advantage of a change in the status.

"The key issue at this stage is that upland farmers should be aware of the opportunity and to apply for the pack if they think there is a case for a change in the moorland line on their holding."

Details of the appeals process can be found on the Rural Payments (RPA) website www.rpa.gov.uk Farmers can apply for an application pack on line or by calling (0845) 605-6516.
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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Aug 16, 2004
Words:409
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