A CUMBRIAN MP is calling for the biggest of the EU’s payments to farmers to be kept in place until 2024.

The Government’s current proposal is to phase out the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) from 2021 and replace it with the Environmental Land Management Scheme from 2024.

At a meeting of the All-Parliamentary Group on Hill Farming, chaired by Westmorland and Lonsdale MP Tim Farron, it was agreed that the group would lobby the Government to continue the BPS for another three years (until 2024).

Mr Farron said: “The Basic Payment Scheme is a lifeline for so many farmers.

“But now they are being left in the dark, unable to plan more than 18 months in advance.”

He added: “Our hard-working local farmers deserve better than this which is why we’re calling on the Government to extend the Basic Payment Scheme until the new scheme is actually ready.”

Mr Farron has also urged the Government to increase the powers of a watchdog which monitors how supermarkets treat retailers (including farmers), in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

Speaking in Parliament, he said: “The export tariffs for UK farmers, including Cumbrian hill farmers, into the single market worry me the most.”

He also raised the idea of increasing the powers of the Groceries Code Adjudicator, “so that it can prevent supermarkets from taking advantage of the loss of export markets by paying our famers a pittance after October 31.”

Mr Farron later said: “The Groceries Code Adjudicator has a vital role in protecting small farmers against the might of large supermarkets.

“But it needs to be given much greater powers so that it can properly protect Cumbrian farmers from supermarkets who will think they have farmers over a barrel in the event of a no-deal Brexit.”