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Page last updated at 15:11 GMT, Monday, 7 February 2011
Upland farmers 'vital' for landscape
The Yorkshire Dales
The role of upland farmers is vital to the landscape of the Yorkshire Dales

The role played by upland livestock farmers and landowners is still "underestimated", the chief executive of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority has said.

David Butterworth was commenting as talks about reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) continue.

He said thousands of jobs were dependent on the farmed landscape of the Dales and the North York Moors.

CAP reforms are due to be agreed in 2012 and come into force by 2014.

The National Park Authority says the beauty of the farmed landscape of the Yorkshire Dales and the North York Moors makes a major contribution to Yorkshire's economy delivering 34,000 jobs in agriculture and tourism and providing £1.8bn in sales.

Mr Butterworth says that the area's economy and landscape is fragile especially in the current economic climate and adds that the role of hill farming must be taken seriously in the current CAP negotiations.

"In these critical discussions on the future of farming it is important to recognise the whole contribution of Dales' farmers."

Unique role

He added that farmers and landowners play a unique role in these upland areas:

"Ninety-nine per cent of the Yorkshire Dales National Park is in private ownership.

"So you don't need to be a genius to work out the size of the contribution that farmers and landowners make to the conservation and enhancement of this Jewel in England's landscape."

David Butterworth also pointed out that these areas can also help in the fight against climate change and flooding:

"They contain huge amounts of peat, which are vital stores of carbon. Managing this land well will make a major contribution to controlling carbon emissions, as well as improving water quality and the internationally-important wildlife of the area.

"Indeed, if these giant 'sponges' of peat are well maintained, it might just help to prevent some of the terrible floods that have been seen in recent years in Boroughbridge and York."

The European Commission CAP Paper and Budget Review was published last autumn and discussions are expected to continue for the next 18 months. An agreement on reform is expected in late 2012 with the new rules coming into force in January 2014.

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