Forthcoming Events and Training
Exmoor Hill Farming Network celebrates its fifth anniversary
The Exmoor Hill Farming Network (EHFN) is celebrating its fifth anniversary this year. The Network, which is farmer-led and independent, was established in early 2014 to improve the viability and sustainability of Exmoor farming businesses. It does this through knowledge-transfer, peer-group support, training, and co-operation to safeguard upland farming, rural employment and landscape management.
The Network is based at Cutcombe Market and aims to be the ‘go to hub’ for the farming community. It currently supports around 300 farming businesses on Exmoor and its surrounding areas.
The Network organises a wide range of events for farmers to learn, share and collaborate through a mix of discussion groups, visits, and specialist knowledge/training events. Topics include sheep lameness demonstrations, pesticide training, mastering medicine courses, guidance on HMRC’s Making Tax Digital initiative, and responding to ongoing legislative changes.
Brexit will bring many challenges and opportunities to our rural landscapes and businesses. In response to this, Network members came together with the National Park Authority to produce a set of proposals called ‘Exmoor’s Ambition’. This document advocates a new approach to enhancing our internationally important landscapes and the many public benefits that good farming and other land managing businesses can provide. It is designed to replace the EU’s discredited schemes with a co-ordinated set of locally delivered and accountable measures to enhance the environment, economy and public wellbeing.
Network chairman, Dave Knight said “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 were delighted to present our proposals to the Secretary of State, Michael Gove, last summer and to senior civil servants from London this spring and we are now working with them to test our proposals’’.
Since 2015 the Network has been working with conservation bodies and others to conserve Exmoor’s environment. This includes South West Water’s Headwaters of the Exe project and Natural England’s Exmoor Coastal Streams Facilitation Fund.
A key priority for the Network has been to encourage young farmers on Exmoor. It has developed a ‘Next Generation Group’ which gives younger farmers under 30 greater confidence, providing them with the space to ‘come out’ from under the shadow of older generations and form their own views. The Network has also provided four young people with work placement opportunities with two already gaining local employment.
The majority of the costs of running the Network have been met by grant funding from The Prince’s Countryside Fund, Exmoor National Park Authority and North Devon Council. We also work with a range of key partners and sponsors whom we are grateful to Masons Kings, NFU, Exmoor Farmers and Towergate Insurance.
If you would like to find out more or become a free member please contact Katherine Williams (EHFN Network Officer ) on 01643 841455 or Kwilliams@northdevonplus.co.uk.
Exmoor Women in Farming Group Meeting - June 2019
Date: Tuesday 25th June 2019
Time: 7pm – 9pm
Venue: Lower House Farm, Cutcombe, Wheddon Cross TA24 7AJ by kind permission of Jo Hewitt
Peer support contribution: £5pp
Join us at Lower House Farm, a 150 acre Exmoor Hill Farm. A grassland based system stocked with 26 pedigree beef shorthorn and British white suckler cows and followers , with 150 EasyCare and Wiltshire Horn sheep and followers. Plus too many horses! A closed herd and flock buying in bulls and rams only. Lower House Farm operates a high herd health status with cattle and tests sheep for scrapie and myomax genes. The ethos is, healthy and fit animals that lead to an easy low maintained style of farming. We will also view the new grant aided cattle handling facility.
An opportunity to ask plenty questions as always.
If you have a 4WD please bring it along as we will be conducting a farm tour.
Jo has kindly offered to supply us with some home reared lamb burgers to enjoy after the meeting in the garden (weather permitting).
Booking essential for catering purposes by Friday 21st June 2019.
EHFN Next Generation Group Meeting – June 2019
(All under 30’s and local YFC members welcome )
Date: Wednesday 26th June 2019
Time: 7pm -9pm ( starting 7pm prompt)
Venue: Oaremead Farm, Oare Lynton EX35 6NU by kind permission of Mr and Mrs Tom Burge.
Join us at Oaremead Farm home of Tom and Sarah Burge. Tom is the 4th generation farmer of the Burge family to farm in the Doone Valley.
Their farming enterprise consists of 1,500 Romney x Highlander ewes and 500 Scotch Black face ewes within a closed flock. Selling the majority of lambs as stores at Blackmoor Gate Market. In early 2018 Tom designed and made a hydraulic caged dipper making it easier for the welfare and management of the flock .
The cattle enterprise consists of a 100 head of Hereford x suckler cows moving to an Aberdeen Angus x. The bulls used at Oaremead are Charolais x and Aberdeen Angus. The suckled calves are sold at Cutcombe in the autumn. The Angus steers are kept until around 18 months as they are used to graze moorland under a conservation scheme.
Tom is keen to progress with a solid grassland management system that works for him. He works with a consultant from Precision Grazing and is moving to a rotational grazing system. They are installing a cell grazing system which is ongoing. Tom regularly soil tests and has his own faecal egg counting equipment on farm which he uses regularly for his flock management.
Join us to find out more and there will be plenty of opportunity to ask lots of questions.
If you have a 4WD please bring it along as we will be conducting a farm tour.
A BBQ will be provided after the farm tour on the lawn outside the house ( weather permitting)
Booking essential for catering purposes by Monday 24th June 2019 at the very latest.
Please ensure clean footwear is worn for biosecurity purposes.
NEW GUIDANCE AIMS TO KEEP EXMOOR FAMILIES FARMING
Exmoor National Park Authority is inviting comments on new guidance into how new homes for rural workers and farming families in the National Park can be applied for, as part of a public consultation running for six weeks until 18th June 2019 (extended until Wednesday 31st July 2019).
The draft “Rural Worker and Succession Farm Dwelling Guidance” applies to those working in land-based businesses in the National Park, such as farming or forestry, and is supplementary to existing national guidelines as well as those set out in the Local Plan for the National Park.
Nationally, homes in the open countryside are only permitted in exceptional circumstances, such as needing a full-time worker permanently on site to tend livestock. Local planning policy further recognises that maintaining the fabric of Exmoor’s farming community is intrinsic to conserving the distinct landscapes and habitats of the National Park, along with the centuries-old farming practices that help sustain them. For example there is extra flexibility to help older farmers retire and a younger generation to take on responsibility for the farm business, or for larger dwellings to be applied for if the scale or nature of the enterprise demands it and the need can’t be met through alternative arrangements. But equally the rules are necessarily stringent around the impact of any new dwelling on the landscape to ensure they are sensitive to the unique character and scenic beauty of the National Park. These new guidelines are intended to help balance these two obligations.
Robin Milton, Chairman of the National Park Authority, said: “This is an important document for Exmoor and its communities to ensure there are opportunities for new housing where it is essential to working people being able to live locally and to conserve and enhance this beautiful area. It is intended to help applicants and all those involved in planning for farm dwellings in the National Park and we would love to hear people’s views.” Martin Dewdney, Chairman of the National Park Authority Planning Committee, added: “If adopted this document will form part of an extensive toolkit on offer to help with these kinds of planning applications that also includes regular planning surgeries and free pre-application advice. As the Local Plan is already adopted, it won’t form part of the consultation, but we warmly welcome any comments focused on this latest guidance. ”The draft guidelines and comments form are available from the planning policy section of the Exmoor National Park Authority website and as hard copies at the following locations: National Park Centres in Dulverton, Dunster and Lynmouth, Lynton and Porlock libraries, Exmoor House in Dulverton and West Somerset and North Devon Council Offices in Williton and Barnstaple. The consultation documents can be found at: www.exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk/planning/planning-policy/rural-worker-and-succession-farm-dwelling-guidance-consultation.
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 Hill Farming Network secures Towergate Insurance as sponsors
The Exmoor Hill Farming Network led by farmers for farmers are delighted to secure Towergate Insurance as sponsors.
"It’s a great opportunity for us to be supporting the Exmoor Hill Farming Network, not just financially through sponsorship but by offering advice and support to their members’’ said Shelley Madge Farm Insurance Development Executive.
"Here at Towergate, we can provide a face to face review of your insurance needs at a time that suits you, and with over 50 years’ industry experience, it’s safe to say we know a thing or two about Farm Insurance, and we are incredibly proud to be sponsors of the Exmoor Hill Farming Network’’. Katherine Williams EHFN Officer said "EHFN are delighted Towergate Insurance recognize our valuable support network, offered to our farming community on Exmoor and the surrounding area and we look forward to working with Towergate Insurance over the forthcoming months. As a national broker we realise how important it is to maintain a local broker approach when dealing with our clients, such as our dedicated claims team based in Taunton.
With ever changing farm technology and increased risk of exposure it has never been more important to review your Farm Insurance and make sure you are adequately covered.
Working as a Farm Insurance broker we have access to a panel of insurance providers which ensures we can offer a competitive quotation.
Contact us today for your FREE Farm Insurance Review …. Can you AFFORD not to have one?
For further information please 01823 625503 or email email@example.com
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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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