FARMERS on Exmoor were facing a threat to their livelihoods and could be forced to sell up, Parliamentary hopeful Rachel Gilmour warned this week.

Ms Gilmour, a former National Farmers’ Union (NFU) director, is standing for the Liberal Democrats in the new Tiverton and Minehead constituency at the next General Election.

She wants ‘more transparency’ from the Government after it emerged that ‘damning analysis’ of a Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) ‘pathways to success scheme’ was ‘buried by officials’.

Ms Gilmour said it aimed to show upland farmers how to make their farms profitable after an EU-derived basic payment scheme (BPS) ended in 2027.

However, The Guardian newspaper showed Government officials chose not to publish analysis of the financial prospects highlighted by the scheme because it was ‘almost entirely bad news’.

Mrs Gilmour said Exmoor farmers were among the most important, yet most vulnerable, in the UK, many only remaining in business because of BPS.

She said: “To know this analysis had been done and yet not published because there was no optimistic outcome for our farmers is shocking.

“The Government’s diabolic rollout of new payments has been a disaster for upland farmers.

“The analysis provides information that affects the livelihoods of our hard-working farmers and was deliberately buried simply because Ministers would not like it, and it appears there are no ideas and no viable solution to replace it.

“This deception shows the complete disregard the Conservatives have for rural communities.”

Ms Gilmour said Defra had not shared its modelling and impact assessments of new environmental land management policies and had not set a date to do so.

The analysis acknowledged many farmers across the country would go out of business when BPS payments were phased out, or a generation of family farmers would have little option but to sell up to make ends meet.

Mrs Gilmour called on the Government to act quickly and create a viable route forward, with proposals for a payment initiative which supported local Exmoor farmers.

She said failure to do so would ‘decimate Exmoor communities and the environment they protect’.