Farming in the Uplands - Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee Contents


Written evidence submitted by North West Upland Farming Forum

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

  Members of the North West Upland Farming Forum (NWUFF) have made significant contributions to the CRC Uplands Inquiry based on their awareness and knowledge of "the issues facing farmers in the uplands".

  The North West Upland Farming Forum aims to provide a mechanism to increase cooperation, knowledge and communication between organisations and individuals working to support upland farming communities in the North West. (see Appendix 1 for membership list; and see www.northwestuplandfarming.org.uk).

  The chair of NWUFF made a presentation at the launch of "High ground, high potential" which emphasized the need to move rapidly from the recommendations in the report into practical actions in real places which strengthen the sustainability of upland farming.

  All the recommendations on upland farming in the CRC report are supported by NWUFF.

  As the clock ticks towards 2013 CAP reform and anticipated further reductions in European funding, NWUFF seeks to prioritise the CRC recommendations through selecting and clustering those which address the development of a sustainable business model for upland farming and its underpinning through community empowerment.

  This submission highlights four initiatives required for upland farming following the CRC report: Whole Valley Planning; Eco-Systems Services Business Model; the Market Mechanism for Carbon Capture, and Succession in Upland Farming.

  Paragraphs 5 & 6 in this submission—The Cultural Landscape Value of the Uplands and The Productive Economic Capacity of Upland Farming—address issues which have not surfaced directly in the CRC recommendations.

  NWUFF is seeking the endorsement of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee for these responses to the CRC recommendations.

1.   Whole Valley Planning

CRC Recommendations 3.1, 3.2, 3.3, 3.4, 5.3, 6.2

  NWUFF proposes a valley/catchment approach to local community planning and development. This is currently being piloted as "Whole Valley Planning" in Borrowdale, Cumbria and offers a low-cost model of farmer-led/supported forward planning which should be implemented across the uplands. In Borrowdale the foreground challenge has been flood mitigation and river management.

2.   Eco-Systems Services Business Model

CRC Recommendations 4.1, 6.6

  NWUFF proposes a sub-regional network of eco-systems services demonstration farms to test the viability of this business model for post 2013 sustainability. This is currently in early stage of formation as an RDPE sub-"Cooperation" project between Cumbria and Lancashire.

3.   The Market Mechanism for Carbon Capture

CRC Recommendations 5.1, 5.2

  These recommendations are a matter of urgency. The eco-systems services business model depends upon an understandable and practical way of working with a carbon market. How can this become a "diversification" reality for the upland farming community? Natural England has done an excellent job of mapping the carbon capture of the uplands. The mapping of the delivery of this by the farming community is the next step.

4.   Succession in Upland Farming

CRC Recommendations 6.3, 6.4

  This depends on the sustainability of a sound eco-systems services business model which has, at its core, the productive capacity of upland farming as a producer and exporter of high quality food.

  NWUFF has initiated collaborative work with educational partners and the Heritage Lottery Fund to develop the University of Cumbria's upland farm (Low Beckside, Mungrisedale) into a national centre of excellence in training and apprenticeships. This will directly support the entry of young people and others into upland farming.

5.   The Cultural Landscape Value of the Uplands

  5.1  It has long been acknowledged that the tourism economy thrives on and around the cultural landscapes of the uplands.

  5.2  There is no direct return from this economy to its primary landscape managers; the farmers and farming families.

  5.3  A well-researched formula of tourism value of each hectare of cultural landscape would provide a benchmark for establishing a "return" income to farmers. This could be applied across the uplands.

6.   The Productive Economic Capacity of Upland Farming

  Research is required to answer the following questions (6.1, 6.2, 6.3):

    6.1 In the context of food security projections, what is the minimum productivity required to maintain national supplies?

    6.2 What is the export potential against the trends of emerging Asian and South American markets in lamb and mutton?

    6.3 What is the required investment to maintain and support this potential?

CONCLUDING REMARKS

  NWUFF welcomes this opportunity to submit its commentary on the upland farming recommendations in the "High ground, high potential" report. The chair and members would welcome opportunities for further clarification and in-depth discussion.

October 2010

APPENDIX 1

THE NORTH WEST UPLAND FARMING FORUM MEMBERSHIP

Pauline Blair (Farmer, Miller Place Farm, Mockerkin).

Geoff Brown (Manager, Rural Programme, Carnegie UK Trust).

Bob Clark (Chief Executive, Cumbria Rural Enterprise Agency).

Will Cockbain (Farmer, Rakefoot Farm, Keswick, NFU Uplands Spokesman, Sustainable Food and Farming Champion for the North West).

Jan Darrell (Policy Officer, Friends of the Lake District).

Helen Forrest (National Farmers Union, North West).

Malcolm Handley (Farmer, Croasdale House Farm, Slaidburn).

Andrew Herbert (Head of Environment & Heritage Lake District National Park Authority).

Nick Hill (Regional Land Use Manager, National Trust).

Andrew Humphries.

Dan Hunt (Upland SSSI—Major Project Manager; NW Region Upland Sector and Vision Lead, Natural England).

Harry Hutchinson (Farmer, Uldale House, Kirkby Stephen).

Neil Johnson (Farm and Countryside Advisor, National Trust).

Gordon Jones (Government Office in the North West).

Viv Lewis (Administrator, Federation of Cumbria Commoners).

Lois Mansfield (Principal Lecturer, University of Cumbria).

Terry McCormick (Action with Communities in Cumbria).

John Metcalfe (Rural Business Consultant, Rural Futures, Lancashire).

Adrian Shepherd (Farming & Countryside Officer, Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority).

Ian Soane (Trustee of Action with Communities in Cumbria.

Simon Stott (Farmer, Sheep Milk UK, Laund Farm, Chipping).

Helen Sweeney (Government Office in the North West).

Veronica Waller (Development Officer, Rural Development Programme for England, Cumbria Fells and Dales).

Angus Winchester (Senior Lecturer, History, Lancaster University).

Will Rawling (Farmer, Hollens Farm, Ennerdale and Chair, Cumbria Farmers Network).





 
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