2015-02-16  

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Farmers Plan a Better Deal for The Northern Uplands

A new farmer led forum focusing on hill farming and the benefits it can provide is a step nearer.

Upland farmers from across the north of England met to discuss setting up a hill farming forum that would provide a stronger voice for upland farming, showcase its benefits to society, and influence Government support.

Farm Images

Farm Images

The two-day meeting at Redworth Hall Hotel in County Durham was organised by the Northern Upland Chain Local Nature Partnership (LNP) and sponsored by Natural England. It included speakers from existing farmer groups, as well as the York, North Yorkshire and East Riding Local Enterprise Partnership.

A common theme was the distinct benefits of working within a farmer group, from improving farm business performance to having direct contact and influence with Government. Farmers agreed to begin the process of setting up a Northern Upland Chain hill farming forum, which would seek to bring together existing farmer networks and interested farmers to champion the wider benefits of hill farming.

The LNP was set up in 2012, and now includes more than 50 organisations. It covers five nationally-designated landscapes – the Yorkshire Dales National Park, Northumberland National Park and the North Pennines, Nidderdale and Forest of Bowland Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

The Partnership is working to promote ‘High Nature Value’ (HNV) farming – looking at ways in which traditional farming systems can deliver environmental benefits more effectively, at the same time as making the farm business more economically viable.

Helen Keep, Senior Farm Conservation Officer at the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority said:
“The idea for the forum developed from work the LNP has undertaken with four groups of farmers looking at the opportunities and costs of being a High Nature Value farmer within the uplands. There was a real desire from the farmers to work together to showcase the benefits that hill farming can bring to society and the environment.”

Richard Betton, a farmer from Upper Teesdale and an LNP Board Member, said: “High Nature Value farming remains the best and only realistic way of maintaining some of this country’s most valuable landscapes – but things could be so much better. This event was about real sustainability — farmers getting their act together, and then collaborating in ways that will secure a more robust economic future for the low intensity, upland farming systems that are particularly valuable for wildlife, the environment and people.”

James Farrar, Chief Operating Officer of the York, North Yorkshire and East Riding Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “High Nature Value farming is an essential part of the distinctive economy of places like the Dales. We are committed to finding ways to help make these small businesses more profitable, while boosting the unique landscape and wildlife on which a multi-million pound tourism industry depends.”

Yorkshire Dales

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