'ONE of the greenest things Government can do is to keep farmers farming' was the key message from South Lakes MP, Tim Farron.

Speaking at this year's Northern Farming Conference, Mr Farron called on the industry to change the debate and make a case for farming, for an ethical approach to trade deals to ensure British farmers, their high food and animal welfare standards were not sacrificed in achieving such deals (but that they were instead influenced and informed by farmers), and for the Environment Land Management (ELM) scheme to be accessible to as many farmers and land managers as possible.

Mr Farron, who joined 180 delegates, comprising of industry experts, farmers and politicians, at the conference held at Hexham Auction Mart, said phasing out of the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) before the new scheme was in place was already forcing people to leave the industry.

“If farmers cannot get into the new schemes they will go broke or go backwards, undoing the good work of recent years,” said Mr Farron.

“Farmers need to flourish. One of the greenest things the Government can do is to keep farmers farming. If this is a battle for the future of the environment then you need an army - and farmers are that army,” said Mr Farron.

Speakers at the Conference shone a spotlight on the impact of Brexit, the transition of agri support schemes and the Covid-19 pandemic on UK farming and agriculture.

In a rallying call to the industry Baroness Natalie Bennett, former Green Party leader who became the second Green member of the House of Lords in 2019, said: “Get farmers of the UK united, lobby the House of Lords and we can make a difference.”