If upland farmers can share their story far and wide, demonstrating the wide benefits they produce, it will help them secure better deals in the future, delegates heard.
A future post-Brexit
Uplands Forum chairman Robin Milton, from Exmoor, said: “As we head into 2020, we will no longer have to adhere to the EU’s regulations meaning we can find a better deal for upland farmers in England and Wales. We are already working closely with key stakeholders to try and get this best deal.
“Over the past year, there has been countless work with the RPA, the Defra uplands team and other upland stakeholders which has enabled representation of the uplands producer at the highest level.
“We’ve got brilliant stories to tell too. We’re trying to raise awareness of what we do and garner support for upland farmers from the general public. We’ll be ensuring we get our stories out there in the media.”
Ensuring a secure future
Mr Milton added: “The upland farmers are the most vulnerable –it is difficult to secure reliable returns from the market place in the upland livestock sector when you remove the support payments – pillar one and two.
“Upland farmers now wish to secure more of their income from the market for the public services they deliver and through fair market returns for their products and the landscapes they maintain.
“Around 70% of our drinking water comes from the uplands and there are over 70 million visits to upland national parks every year. Yet the British government pays upland farmers just £3.30 for every one visit.”
Other speakers included Tom Dracup, livestock adviser for the NFU, who said: “We’re working with Defra to create workable regulation that’s appropriate on farm and within the government systems – a key challenge, but this has the opportunity to allow a much more workable system going forwards.
“We’re also looking at options for the future such as new systems and Defra systems centralising records meaning easier recording and access. The future of these, perhaps could lead to the removal of the six-day standstill.”