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Friday, 26 August 2016

New forum for hill farmers

Hill farmers in northern England have a new voice and forum to express their views.

The new Northern Hill Farming Panel has been set up to help address some of the challenges faced by those that farm the northern uplands.

The panel will represent members in discussions with government ministers and officials on how they can help foster a more sustainable future for farming in the northern uplands.

It will comprise hill farmers from all parts of the Northern Upland Chain, with the Yorkshire Dales and Northumberland National Park Authorities and the North Pennines, Nidderdale and Forest of Bowland Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty Partnerships providing the support necessary for it to function.

All farmers within these five protected landscapes are able to support the work of the panel and potentially become panel members after its first year of operation. Local meetings will be arranged over the autumn and winter.

Richard Betton, a hill farmer from Upper Teesdale, will chair the panel. He also works for the Upper Teesdale Agricultural Support service and is a local representative on the NFU Hill and Uplands Farming Group.

He said: “The panel agreed that there is a need to communicate the importance to society of maintaining active hill farmers in terms of environmental benefits, skills, knowledge and social vitality,

“The resource of farmers itself is valuable and once lost cannot be replaced.

“The result of the EU Referendum could be viewed as a disaster for UK agriculture, especially in the hills. It is, however, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to design a new system that underpins a vibrant and thriving upland farming community with the skills to deliver a sustainable environment on the back of their agricultural production.”

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