PEOPLE farming in the Yorkshire Dales National Park are invited to attend one of five fact-finding meetings due to be held next month.

The meetings in February, including one in Settle, are being held at an important time in the government’s seven-year agricultural transition in England, says the national park authority.

Advisers from the authority’s farm conservation team will be on hand at the meetings due to be held in Hawes, Reeth, Orton, Sedbergh and Settle.

In the summer farmers will be able, for the first time, to submit a combined application for Countryside Stewardship and the Sustainable Farming Incentive, the government’s post-Brexit farm payment schemes. The Environment Secretary earlier this month announced dozens of new options which farmers could get paid for, as well as increased payment rates.

Farmers in the uplands will be eligible for new payments for moorland management, as well as for keeping up dry stone walls. Also, a greatly increased payment rate for managing grassland as species rich hay meadow.

Mark Corner, member champion for the natural environment at the national park, said: “As well as being at its mid-point, the Government’s seven-year agricultural transition has reached its crux moment. "The Basic Payment Scheme is now closed, while the new combined Sustainable Farming Incentive /Countryside Stewardship offer is about to open for all.

"This means that in the next few months people farming in the National Park may have some big decisions to make on how they wish to farm, and which options and payments they wish to pursue, in order to sustain a viable business. “We are particularly keen to support people to get the new payment for species rich traditional hay meadows. Now there will be a more appropriate payment – of £646 per hectare, plus a £187 per hectare hay making supplement – to reflect the increased management needed to nurture an upland hay meadow.”

Mr Corner added: “Our farm conservation team is likely to be in demand during this period, so booking a place at one of the free meetings is highly recommended.”

The meeting in Settle will take place on Tuesday, February 27 from 7pm to 9pm at the North Ribblesdale Rugby Club.

Refreshments will be available at all venues, and the bar at the North Ribblesdale Rugby Football Club in Settle will also be open.

Farmers can contact or call 01756 751620 or 07979 151 801 to book a place.