Forthcoming Events and Training
HUNDREDS JOIN ROYALS FOR BIG NATIONAL PARKS PICNIC
The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall were today (WEDNESDAY) joined by hundreds of picnickers in Exmoor National Park for a special celebration marking 70 years since the ground-breaking 1949 Act of Parliament that established UK National Parks.
The ‘National Parks Big Picnic’ saw more than 500 people gather to enjoy a picnic and a cream tea in the beautiful surroundings of Simonsbath’s riverside meadows at the heart of Exmoor’s former Royal Forest.
Their Royal Highnesses were greeted by leaders from across the UK National Park family. They also met groups such as the Exmoor Society and Exmoor Hill Farming Network, children from Exford First School, local producers and craftspeople, and were presented with a hamper of local Exmoor produce to enjoy at home.
All attendees received a souvenir programme with a Forward by the Prince of Wales stating: “However much our lives, and those of our children, may change in the future the basic human need for peace, beauty and spiritual refreshment from engaging closely with the natural world will, I believe, remain every bit as important as it was seventy years ago.”
The centrepiece was the unveiling of a stunning cake inspired by the diverse landscapes of the UK’s 15 National Parks – from rugged mountains and vast open moorland, to soft rolling hills, meandering wetlands and dramatic coastline.
Special guests at the celebration included Niall Hobhouse, whose grandfather Sir Arthur Hobhouse pioneered the 1947 report that paved the way for the 1949 National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act, and the creation of the UK’s National Parks.
The Act, described at the time as a “recreational gift to Britain’s returning Second World War service men and women”, set out to recognise, conserve and enhance access to landscapes deemed to be “of national importance and quality”.
70 years on the UK has 15 National Parks, attracting over 130 million visitor days a year, worth almost £6bn to the UK tourism economy and much more in terms of crucial ecosystem services, such as carbon storage, flood prevention, clean air and water.
Sarah Bryan, Chief Executive of Exmoor National Park Authority, who hosted the event, said: “It’s with immense pride that we welcome Their Royal Highnesses to Exmoor today. Many say they love Exmoor for its incredible variety - made up of wild open moorland, spectacular coastline, deep wooded valleys, fast flowing streams and magnificent starry dark skies. But what really makes Exmoor is its people and the immense sense of responsibility we all feel towards this beautiful place. It goes right to the core of why National Parks were created, and I think today we all go away with a sense of the shared passion still felt for that cause.”
Lord Gardiner of Kimble, Minister for National Parks, said: “Seventy years on from the ground-breaking legislation that paved the way for their creation, our National Parks remain some of the nation’s most cherished places.
“We owe a great debt to past generations who had the wisdom to preserve these precious landscapes – and this momentous anniversary offers an opportunity to reflect on how we can ensure that our National Parks are conserved and enhanced for generations to come.”
Margaret Paren OBE, Chair of National Parks England, said: “There is a huge amount that has been achieved and for which to be proud from our first 70 years. The reasons why we have National Parks resonates every bit as much today as then. We collectively care for these extraordinary landscapes, among the best in the world, and we inspire generations. And so as we look to the future, National Parks have a pivotal role to play in responding to the climate emergency, supporting nature recovery, and providing physical health and mental well-being for all.”
Carl Lis OBE, Chair of National Parks UK, said: “I am incredibly grateful to the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall for choosing to celebrate 70 years of UK National Parks with us here today. They are fantastic supporters of UK National Parks, which continue to attract hundreds of millions of visitors every year and make such a significant contribution to the UK tourism economy”.
The event was sponsored by Tarmac with further support from The Exmoor Society, Somerset County Council, Devon County Council, Exmoor Hill Farming Network and the family of UK National Parks.
Date: Friday 4th October 2019
Venue: The Sportsman Inn, Sandyway, South Molton EX36 3LU
Time: 7pm for 7.30pm prompt start
Cost: £12pp to include carvery (please let us know of any dietary requirements)
The Fun Quiz will include farming related questions.
Everyone is welcome
Teams of up to 6.
Prize Draw to follow
‘Proceeds to EHFN funds’
Booking essential for catering purposes to book your place/team please contact Katherine Williams on 07970 795808 or KWilliams@northdevonplus.co.uk
Early bookings advisable
HILL FARMERS SHOW SUPPORT FOR CREATING A BRIGHTER FUTURE
The Uplands Alliance has brought together over 100 hill farmers with Defra staff to explore how farmers can create a brighter future for their businesses and the environment. Farmers were keen to stress how many public benefits they already provide and that with appropriate support they can provide more. They also reminded Defra that these public benefits are delivered alongside producing high quality food and being the glue of rural communities.
Leaving the EU will result in the biggest change for seventy years in how farmers are supported. No longer will farmers be paid to farm but instead they will be paid to provide public benefits which are not paid for “at the till” including biodiversity, carbon storage, clean water and heritage landscapes. This new scheme is called the Environmental Land Management Scheme.
The meetings were facilitated by the Uplands Alliance with funding from the Prince’s Countryside Fund. In each of nine areas we brought together 12-20 farmers to meet with Defra staff. Meetings were held in Bodmin, Dartmoor, Exmoor, Shropshire, Peak District, Yorkshire, Cumbria, Durham and the South Pennines. AHDB also attended three of the meetings.
Our report released this week highlights the key findings of these meetings and include:
- Long term schemes (~25 years) would allow business planning and delivery of environmental benefits
- Payment rates need to be sufficient to ensure business viability and should pay for delivery of existing good practice as well as improvements
- There should be a flexible approach to delivery focusing on outcomes not prescriptions
- Forms that can be filled in by the farmer will result in a higher commitment to delivering outcomes
- Local advisors are needed to support application and delivery
- Monitoring and verification of outcomes should be built into the scheme
The Uplands Alliance continues to be actively working with Defra in developing the ELM scheme and testing new policies and schemes with those who will be delivering them.
The full report and the meeting notes from each local meeting are available to download here.
Headwaters of the Exe
The current phase of the Headwaters of the Exe project is entering its final year and the ENPA, EHFN and FWAG are currently working with South West Water to develop a new project to start in April 2020 to run for another 5 years. Over the next year we will be focussing on:
EXMOOR FARMERS RESPOND TO CALL TO PROTECT FUTURE OF FARMING IN NATIONAL PARKS
Today (Wednesday) National Parks England (NPE) is calling for the Government to protect the future of farming following a nearly 20 per cent drop in the amount of land in National Parks under agri-environment agreements since 2015*. These schemes help fund farming and land management practices that support biodiversity, enhance the landscape and improve the quality of water, air and soil, and are critical to sustaining many of Exmoor National Park’s special qualities.
Responding to the concerns, Chairman Dave Knight from Exmoor Hill Farming Network, said: “There has to be a way of compensating farmers for the many public services they provide beyond basic food production, particularly in National Parks where the balance between farming and nature is so delicate. So it’s worrying to hear that fear over potential funding gaps may be driving farmers away from agri-environment schemes.
“Our own joint proposal with Exmoor National Park Authority – Exmoor’s Ambition – aims to put the environment at the heart of upland land management and we look forward to continuing our conversations with Defra and Natural England to help bring about a resolution as soon as possible.”
Robin Milton, Chairman of the Exmoor National Park Authority, added: “Exmoor is a living-working landscape with many delicate habitats reliant on traditional farming techniques stemming back centuries. Any gap in funding for farmers to carry out environmental land management could spell the end for many of the traditional trades and skills that define our National Parks. The consequences for both nature and livelihoods could be very serious indeed.”
“Many Exmoor farming enterprises have been around for generations so it’s not the first time we’ve had to adapt to a changing political landscape. But like so many UK industries right now, we need assurances to plan our future business.”
Activities 2016-2018 - View here
9am - 1pm (Monday to Friday)
We advise to always call the office before making a journey to ensure someone is here as much of our time is spent out in the field.
Tel: 01643 841 455
Prince’s Farm Resilience Programme
The EHFN are pleased to have been working with the PCF to deliver The Farm Resilience Programme in the Exmoor area. The FRP is a series of workshops for farm business regarding business planning skills and resilience. The workshops delivered so far include benchmarking with a Business Health Check Tool, practical solutions to cost saving, budget and cash flow planning, evaluating long and short term aims and SWOT analysis. Subjects still to delivered are succession and environmental agri schemes. All participants have found all the workshops so far very thought provoking.
EXMOOR FARMERS PRESENT POST-BREXIT FARMING AMBITIONS TO MICHAEL GOVE
The Rt Hon Michael Gove MP, Secretary of State for Defra (The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs), visited Exmoor today (Thursday) to meet with farmers backing a transformative proposal for post-Brexit farming on Exmoor*.
Known as ‘Exmoor’s Ambition’, the proposal is a progressive new concept for sustaining and enhancing Exmoor’s farmed landscape and communities after Brexit.
During the visit, the Secretary of State toured two farms championing the proposal, where he met representatives from the Exmoor Hill Farming Network and Exmoor National Park Authority, who have been instrumental in developing the new concept.
Robin Milton, Chair of Exmoor National Park Authority, said: “We have a once-in-a-generation chance to develop a better home-grown policy for world-class landscapes like Exmoor after Brexit. But we need to act now, which is why we’re asking the Secretary of State for the opportunity to trial our scheme and show the UK a different way of farming centred on the many public benefits provided by the countryside. If we get the green light soon, the lessons learned could be applied to other upland areas before Brexit bites.”
The Initiative is Welcomed by Michael Gove
Environment Secretary Michael Gove, said: “I was delighted to meet farmers in Exmoor who share our ambitious and positive outlook on the future for farming.
“The Exmoor Ambition Programme is an excellent example of the appetite for farming differently outside the EU. It also shows how planning ahead for local agri-environment schemes can bring real benefits for the farming community.
“The contributions of Exmoor Ambition and other groups are hugely valuable as we plan new environmental land management schemes to be piloted when we leave the EU.”
The Secretary of State’s programme included a visit to Cloggs Farm, where sixth generation farmer, David Bawden, showed Mr Gove how the new concept could benefit farmers as well as nature, through a system that rewards those using land-management practices that are proven to help conserve and enhance the countryside. It is hoped this will mean more wildflowers, more wildlife, more scenic beauty and even more delicious produce.
David Bawden is just one of the thirty Exmoor farmers who want to trial the new “Good Farming Measures” and “Enhanced Benefits” that the proposal provides, including detailed costings.
Unique Partnership Between Farmers and the Local Community
Dave Knight, Chair of the Exmoor Hill Farming Network, will introduce the Secretary of State to a number of other Exmoor hill farmers who are primed to start work on the trial. He commented: “Normally, farmers are hesitant to make the sort of changes that Exmoor’s Ambition is proposing. But because this has been a farmer-based approach, backed by the National Park Authority and the local community, we have got a groundswell of local farming support for this initiative. We cannot wait to get going”.
Turning Exmoor into a Brand and not just a Place
Exmoor’s Ambition has called in a volunteer marketing expert, local resident Robin Wight, President of Engine, a leading communications group. “Exmoor is an amazingly evocative word. Our plan is to work with Defra to make ‘Exmoor’ the first post Brexit food designation. This will help achieve, for Exmoor Lamb, Exmoor Beef and other Exmoor foods, premium in the marketplace, doing justice to their outstanding quality.”
Countryside Productivity Scheme proves popular
amongst the Exmoor Farming Community
The long awaited and much needed small capital grants for farms, funded through the Countryside Productivity Grant Scheme, are now available.
Farmers from all over Exmoor were invited to a demonstration afternoon at Cutcombe Market earlier this week, with over 110 farmers in attendance from all over Exmoor, some travelling from further afield such as Cornwall, Honiton and Crediton. The event was held to provide free professional advice about the latest round of grants available to those working in the agricultural industry. It was organised by Katherine Williams of the Exmoor Hill Farming Network, with Adam Lockyear from FWAG (Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group) on hand to provide technical advice and support on the latest scheme.
The event included demonstrations of equipment eligible for the grants and was well supported by local businesses including Bridgmans, Shearwell Data, Water Powered Technologies, Allflex, Ritchie Agriculture, FWAG SW, Bateman, Mole Valley Farmers, RAPPA, Scotpen and Masons Kings.
The fund will support a wide range of equipment from mobile to fixed handling systems for cattle or sheep, badger proof feed trough and lick holders, electronic weigh scales, EID hand-held devices, auto EID drench guns, solar power fence energisers, GPS equipment, slurry handling equipment, hydraulic ram pumps, seed drills.
Katherine Williams, Network Officer, said “A small grant of this type has been a long time coming to our farming community. Many farmers contact us every month asking for small grant support particularly amongst our next generation farmers wishing to be more efficient and productive. A farmer friendly application process has been well received. This really is an exciting opportunity for many wishing to improve their animal handling and EID systems to improve animal health and welfare on farm”.
Applications for the latest grant scheme must be submitted by March 14th. More information is available from the Exmoor Hill Farming Network team on 01643 841455.
Exmoor Hill Farming Network Secures Future Prince’s Countryside Fund Funding 2018-2021
The Exmoor Hill Farming Network (the Network)has welcomed an award of £49,997 funding from The Prince’s Countryside Fund (the Fund) to help it support the Exmoor farming community. This will enable the Network, which is farmer-led, to continue and develop its work for the next three years (February 2018- February 2021). This follows the success of two previous grants from the Fund bringing the total awarded to date from the charity to £149,981.
Since the Network’s formation in 2014, 300 farming businesses on Exmoor now benefit from the knowledge exchange, training and news updates it provides. Our priority for the future is to strengthen and professionalise our range of services, developing the Network as the 'Go-To Hub' for knowledge, learning and peer-support through our office, our four peer-support groups (Forward Farming, Women in Farming, Micro-farming and Next Generation) and close working with specialist organisations.
The financial assistance from the Fund will enable the Network to focus on the impacts of Brexit, helping Exmoor farmers adapt and be resilient to the changes this will bring. We are taking a proactive approach, involving the next generation of Exmoor farmers, in a costed proposal to Government. Our plan, called ‘Exmoor’s Ambition’, is to develop new ways of delivering high quality landscapes, delicious food, abundant wildlife and other public benefits from prosperous farms on Exmoor.
This award from the Fund contributes nearly half of the required for the forthcoming network activities over the next three years. The Network is currently exploring the funding gap with the Exmoor National Park Authority and will be identifying ways of becoming more self-sufficient.
We have been delighted to have welcomed Natwest, Exmoor Farmers Livestock Auctioneers, Masons Kings and NFU on board as key sponsors over the past two years and we will continue to offer sponsorship packages for local businesses and partners during our next phase. If you would be interested in hearing more about our sponsorship opportunities please contact the office.
Dave Knight ( EHFN Chairman ) said “We at the EHFN are over the moon to have secured funding from the Fund for the next three years, this extraordinary support will hopefully allow us to push forward with our aims of growing the network now that we are well established.
“The Fund has supported us right from the beginning, it's no understatement to say that without their backing, both financially and their support, the network would not be where we are today. They have promoted us at every turn and opened doors for us, for which we are immensely grateful.”
Claire Saunders, director of The Prince’s Countryside Fund said: “Since our first grant to the Network we have been proud to see them develop and grow. This type of support is needed now more than ever before, and I am delighted we can continue to give funding to assist the farming families of Exmoor build stronger, more resilient businesses. The Network is an inspiring organisation and always willing to share with others how they support their members, and the benefit they have provided to the local farming community.”
The EHFN will continue to bring very competitively priced training delivered locally and farmer led events. The 2018 programme of events, training, workshops and peer group visits are led by your needs. Please let us know if there are specific topics you would like addressed.
The Network is an information and support 'hub' for Exmoor's hill farmers, bringing information, demonstrations, training, grants and opportunities to farmers. The Network started four years ago and is funded by the Exmoor National Park Authority and The Prince’s Countryside Fund and well supported by Exmoor's farming community.
For further information please contact Katherine Williams Network Officer on 01643 841455 or KWilliams@northdevonplus.co.uk.
Exmoor Hill Farming Network Christmas Review 2017
The Exmoor Hill Farming Network celebrated it fourth Christmas Review last week at The Music Room , Woolhanger by kind permission of Mr and Mrs G Mellstrom. The evening was an opportunity to bring together members and was a huge success with 94 members of the Exmoor farming community attending.
Katherine Williams, EHFN officer said: “We were delighted to see so many of our Next Generation who have engaged with the network over the past 2 years, this being a key objective for our funders.
“Members enjoyed a 3 course meal, a review of our network activities and we were also joined by guest speaker Matt and Pip Smith from Launceston , Cornwall – Farmers Weekly Sheep Farmer of the Year 2017 and Sheep Shearing World Record holder for 2016. The evening was rounded up with a prize draw and auction of table decorations raising £615 for network funds, many thanks go to the local businesses for their generous donations.”
The Network is an information and support 'hub' for Exmoor's hill farmers, bringing information, demonstrations, training, grants and opportunities to farmers. The Network started four years ago and is funded by the Exmoor National Park Authority and The Princes Countryside Fund and well supported by Exmoor's farming community. The project is currently exploring further funding bids to continue and develop their work from February 2018 as confirmed funding is in place until end of the January 2018.
Pic L to R: Matt Smith, Pip Smith , Katherine Williams (EHFN Network Officer) and Dave Knight (EHFN Chairman)
Exmoor Farmers State Their Position
Upland farmers from Exmoor have come together to state their ambitions to deliver for people and
the environment through a reshaped agricultural policy, as the UK prepares to leave the European
Union. The priorities of Exmoor farmers are twofold: firstly to keep the benefits for the public and
society from upland areas such as clean water, carbon storage, diverse wildlife, recreation and
tourism; and secondly to support viable farm businesses that also maintain the special landscape
features of the National Park whilst taking into account revised trading and support policies.
The “Exmoor Ask” is for a package of public and private investment, overseen by the National Park
Authority, together with expert advice, local monitoring, binding contracts and a focus on innovation
to develop new market opportunities. These ideas are being put forward by the Exmoor Hill Farming
Network following their ‘Brexit’ discussion meeting held in December, which was attended by over
50 people. The farmer-led steering group of the Exmoor Hill Farming Network has worked with
Professor Janet Dwyer of the Countryside and Community Research Institute (CCRI) at the University
of Gloucester to produce a position statement from these discussions.
“Exmoor is special, shown through its designation as a National Park. It has been produced
by centuries of farming and the management of its iconic landscape features such as beech
hedges, heather moorlands and ancient woodlands,” said the Exmoor HillFarming Network’s
Chairman Dave Knight. “Exmoor’s farming families care deeply for this landscape and work
closely with many partners to protect and sustain it. We have over 30 years of experience of
which policies work well for Exmoor. The key to better delivery for the public and the
environment is working to national goals and policies through a locally customised scheme,
developed and monitored by a partnership of local farmers and agencies who know what
works in our area.”
The Network members have produced their position statement to increase understanding among
the general public, agencies, policy makers and those not familiar with upland farming and Exmoor.
It explains the range of benefits delivered by farming from food, clean water and wood, to wildlife, a
beautiful countryside and features of historical and cultural interest.
” The Network will continue to refine their “Ask” as more information emerges through the
coming months, working with other partners and farmer groups,” said Dave Knight. “We
want to be at the table for the ongoing discussions to develop a new agricultural policy as
we leave the European Union.”
EHFN JOB VACANCY ADVERTS
Over the last few months local businesses/individuals have approached the network to advertise jobs on Exmoor. We would be delighted to assist you with any marketing and able to circulate by email to more than 430 members on our database. Please email adverts or copy to the Network officer. We ask for a £20 fee which includes emailing out to our members, advertised on our jobs page on our website and EHFN Facebook page.
To book or for further information please contact the office on 01643 841455 or email@example.com
working closing with one of key sponsors for 2017
We have a number of people requesting to complete their telehandler training, chainsaw course and certificate of competence in rodenticides if any of these training courses are of interest to you. Please let me know and they will be arranged on demand.
Exmoor’s Ambition: Proposals for post-Brexit farm and environmental support
‘Exmoor’s Ambition’ has been prepared jointly by the Exmoor National Park Authority and Hill Farming Network. This proposes a new approach to enhancing our internationally important landscapes and the many public benefits that good farming businesses can provide. It is designed to replace Pillars 1 and 2 of the CAP with a co-ordinated set of locally delivered and accountable measures to enhance the environment, the local economy and public wellbeing.
We are in discussion with Defra about these ideas and hope to be given the opportunity to pilot the scheme here on Exmoor soon. If you have any feedback on the proposals or wish to contribute to discussion about the future, please email me or ExmoorsAmbition@exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk.
Download Exmoor's Ambition here .
Beyond 2020: Views of Farmers in Exmoor National Park about Farm Funding After the United Kingdom Exits the European Union
There has been a great deal of speculation about the future of the United Kingdom (UK) following the outcome of the national referendum in June 2016. As a sector, agriculture is among the most exposed to changes from the UK decision.
Exmoor Hill Farming Network
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