Forthcoming Events and Training
The winter issue of Exmoor Magazine has just gone to print so not long now until it is out (early November). If you’ve been thinking about taking out a subscription and you would like yours to begin with winter, please get in touch soon. Every issue is packed with features for all those who love Exmoor and the surrounding countryside (including North Devon and the Quantocks). Farming, flora and fauna, ecology, landscapes and their management, woodlands, rivers and the coast are at the backbone of this 21-year-old local publication. Not your usual ‘county’ mag, Exmoor Magazine is completely independent and dedicated to in-depth features and top-quality photography. It is owned on Exmoor and produced by a small team of writers and photographers (some familiar names among them!), who are passionate about everything Exmoor. Subscriptions cost from £15. European and international subscriptions available for those who are far from home. Gift subscriptions are particularly popular, especially for Christmas.
Activities 2016-2018 - View here
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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.
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’s Hedgelaying Competition Runs Again!
Exmoor National Park Authority is pleased to announce the launch of the 2017/18 Exmoor Hedge Competition.
The competition is aimed at the landowners, managers and contractors who actually carry out the high quality hedgelaying work for the benefit of Exmoor’s farming, wildlife and landscape.
To be eligible to apply, all or part of the farm must be within Exmoor National Park and the hedge laid during the winter of 2017/18. There will be two classes, ‘Open’ and ‘Novice’ and the winner of each class will receive £200, 2nd place £100 and £50 will go to the 3rd place. The judges include members of the Devon and Somerset Hedge Groups, who are experienced West Country hedge layers themselves. The previous year’s Open Class winners are also invited to join the judging panel.
Work carried out during the autumn and winter months has resulted in a considerable transformation along many lanes and field edges, as once-shady, outgrown hedges are cut and laid. This traditional management is crucial in order to rejuvenate the hedgerows which are iconic features of the Exmoor landscape, reflecting our cultural heritage and supporting an incredible range of wildlife. The work is very skilled and provides employment for numerous people on Exmoor during the winter months.
Susan May, Chairman of the Exmoor Trust said: “The Exmoor Trust is delighted to sponsor this competition again this year and encourages all hedge layers to enter.”
Heather Harley, Conservation Officer (Farming & Land Management) for Exmoor National Park said: “If you would like to enter the competition you have until Friday 25th May 2018 to submit your entry form together with at least one photo of the completed hedge and if possible a photo of the hedge before work took place. For further information or an entry form please ring us on 01398 323665 or email email@example.com.”
The Exmoor Hedge Competition is being run by Exmoor National Park Authority and again has been possible through the generous sponsorship of the Exmoor Trust. www.exmoortrust.org.uk.
Countryside Stewardship Grant Scheme
The Countryside Stewardship grant scheme is now open for applications. There are various strands to the Countryside Stewardship scheme, full details can be found at Gov.uk:
Countryside Stewardship Mid Tier, 5yr agreement
Simplified Mid Tier offers – “Upland Offer”, 5yr agreement
Hedgerow and boundary capital grant, 2yr agreement
Woodland support through the Woodland Management Plan capital grant is still open.
Mid Tier and “Upland Offer”– Application packs must be requested by 31st May 2018. Deadline for submission 31st July 2018. Hedgerow and Boundary Grants – Deadline for application submissions 30th April 2018.
Do not delay in applying if you have an expiring agreement or are not in a scheme, the Secretary of State at the Oxford Farming Conference gave assurance that anyone entering a scheme now will not be disadvantaged by the UKs departure from the EU or should a new scheme be launched. If you are interested in finding out more about the schemes more information will be available at the Funding and Advice Event at Exford Village Hall on the 5th February 2pm – 4pm. Other events will be taking place during the spring across Exmoor, more details to follow or contact Adam Lockyear or Rebecca Mills FWAG SouthWest on 01823 660684 or email firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com.
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 over 500 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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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.”
Exmoor Hill Farming Network
Cutcombe Market, Wheddon Cross,
Minehead, Somerset TA24 7DT
Tel: 01643 841455
Office Hours: 9am - 1pm (Monday to Friday)
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