Update on our farming and land management working party

Threats and challenges to hill farming in our National Parks are being addressed by our farming and land management working party.

The group was set up by our Council in response to widespread concern that traditional farming - so vital to the maintenance of National Parks landscapes - is facing a variety of threats.

Writing in our latest edition of our membership magazine, Norman Cowling, from the Dartmoor Preservation Association, said the working party aimed to prepare a final report for Council next Summer. This would identify practical and politically feasible actions that would improve the prospects for the kind of traditional farming and land management practices that a majority of stakeholders and the general public want to see.

Mr Cowling said: "Among the identified threats to hill farming are a long-term decline in the numbers of cattle and sheep; declining levels of public funding including a decreasing proportion of land in agri-environment schemes; basic uncompetitiveness of English hill farming in a global price market; and the increasing number of elderly farmers with no succession plan, leading to a loss of traditional skills and local culture."

Mr Cowling added that while farming had not stood still in the uplands over the past few generations, there was now a new agenda which threatened livestock farmers but also offered new opportunities.

"Farmers are now constrained on the numbers of stock they keep within agri-environment schemes or on areas of common grazing, while society places even higher value on the natural environemnt, biodiversity, clean rivers, healthy bogs and much else.

"The crux of the question is this; how will farm businesses, which are often unprofitable, heavily reliant on falling levels of public funding and unable to increase productivity, survive?"

Notes to Editors

The farming and land management working party has representation from across the National Parks including those with academic and professional experience, and a number of wroking farmers. Its aim is to prepare for Council a narrative and a range of policies that will be relevant to the mid-term review of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and subsequent CAP reform.

Our membership magazine Viewpoint is produced twice a year and includes information on our latest campaigns, our Park Protector Award and life among our five Mosaic England teams. It is available to our Friends and you can join now at www.cnp.org.uk/become-friend