Around 80 mainly upland farmers attended an Exmoor Ambition meeting of the Exmoor Hill Farming Network (EHFN) recently. The meeting discussed the development of proposals for farming support schemes and the environment through a reshaped agricultural policy as the UK prepares to leave the European Union. The ‘Exmoor Ambition is to:
·develop a locally delivered mechanism that secures and enhances the many benefits that Exmoor’s farmed landscape gives to Exmoor communities and the nation. ·demonstrate to others the value of approaches piloted on Exmoor and develop a pilot that would be of interest in other English uplands, other protected landscapes and more widely.
As the UK prepares to leave the European Union, the government has a unique opportunity to reshape how to maintain the benefits that upland areas can deliver.
Dave Knight, Chairman of the EHFN, said: “The Exmoor Ambition event was a tremendous success – easily our best attended meeting to date, and it demonstrates the credibility of the Network that so many people recognised the importance of what we are proposing.
“The Exmoor ambition event goes to show the continuing confidence and trust within the Network as the “go to hub” for Exmoor’s farming community. Following our Exmoor Ask paper last autumn, the proposals put forward have been a year in the making. There is a huge amount more work to do, but the ringing endorsement from the event attendees shows that we’re on the right track.”
Robin Milton, Chairman of Exmoor National Park Authority, commented: “A unanimous vote concluded a fantastic evening of debate by farmers at the recent Exmoor Hill Farming Network event where integrating farming and environmental management was recognised as a major asset in determine future policies.
“Exmoor farmers are ready to take up the post-Brexit challenge with an Exmoor Ambition offer to government.”
The Hill Farming Network will now finalise the Exmoor Ambition proposals with the National Park Authority, with the aim of presenting them formally to the government in the New Year. PHOTO: EHFN Chairman Dave Knight addressing the Exmoor Ambition meeting
Following a £2.4 million redevelopment, Somerset Rural Life Museum re-opened earlier this year with a fresh new look and a line-up of wonderful events offering real-life experiences inspired by rural traditions.
The autumn programme has been announced and includes seasonal celebrations, workshops, courses, talks and exhibitions. The programme offers visitors a chance to discover more about Somerset’s heritage including its landscape, food and farming and rural crafts.
Visitor Services Manager Robin Savill said: “In addition to being a much-loved museum we are now offering new hands-on heritage experiences. The former farm, with its orchard and farm yard, offers a unique and historic venue in which to learn more about the county’s heritage. Alongside our special autumn events we also have regular family fun days and Toddler Explorer sessions.”
Autumn has always been an important time for rural communities and An Autumn Celebration carries on the tradition of celebrating harvest time. On 7 and 8 October the Museum grounds will be filled with all things autumnal, from apple pressing and giant pumpkins to rural crafts and folklore.
The Museum will hold its Living History Day on 5 November when the former dairy farm will be alive with the sights, sounds, smells and tastes of ancient skills and crafts. From woodworking and weaving to cookery and corn dollies, a visit will be like stepping into the past.
From 23 September to 11 November the wonderful foureteenth-century Abbey Barn will host an installation produced in partnership with Somerset Art Works and Craftspace. Gather-ing is a contemporary art exhibition exploring the use of ancient barns to gather and collect people, animals and crops.
Kate Lynch’s stunning FARM exhibition also continues until 3 December, featuring more than 40 paintings and drawings made on local farms. To complement the exhibition, Kate will be at the Museum on 28 September to give a talk about her documentary art projects.
On 25 October painter James Lynch is giving a talk and demonstration in using the ancient medium of egg tempera. James has spent many years mastering this technique and his much-admired landscape painting at the Museum is a stunning example of this work.
Blighty Bushcraft will be at the museum on 24 September to lead a Foraging Course around the Glastonbury countryside. The morning expedition will explore the local hedgerows to discover what nature’s larder has to offer. Blighty Bushcraft returns on 22 October for a ‘Slab and Stick’ Stool-Making Course.
Normal admission applies to seasonal days and exhibitions with charges and booking required for workshops, courses and talks. For full details please visit SRLM.org.uk
Somerset Rural Life Museum is part of The South West Heritage Trust, an independent charity that protects and celebrates our rich heritage.
Champion ploughmen and women from all over Great Britain will be making their way to Somerset this autumn when the county will host this year’s British National Ploughing Championships & Country Festival. This unique two-day event will take place on land at Bishops Lydeard, near Taunton, on Saturday 14 and Sunday 15 October.
The highlight of the country’s ploughing calendar, the event is one of the few agricultural shows which is held in a different part of Britain each year and the event is returning to Somerset courtesy of landowner Ken Coles and family who have provided over 200 acres of their prime arable farmland just north of the town of Taunton.
Around 250 ploughmen and women will take part, including past World and European champions. At stake are the British National Ploughing Championship titles and the selection to represent England in World and European ploughing competitions next year, with one ultimate winner taking the title of Supreme Champion.
It’s not just about ploughing, though over the two days visitors will see competitions for many different styles, from the more modern reversible and conventional ploughing through to many types of vintage tractors and the graceful and magnificent horse ploughing of years gone by. Alongside the competitions there will be demonstrations of giant steam engines, vintage and rural craft exhibits with the provisional themes ‘Welcome to Somerset’ and ‘Horse to Horse Power’, trade stands, shopping stalls and country crafts.
The Society of Ploughmen, who are organising the event, are expecting an exceptional crowd over the two days as the Championships always attract a varied mix of spectators – from farmers with a love of the land and agricultural machinery, vintage tractor enthusiasts, people with a love of horses, steam enthusiasts and those with a general interest in the countryside. It also gives a unique opportunity for families to see how our farming heritage has changed over the past 300 years.
Chief Executive of the Society of Ploughmen, Sue Frith, said, “The interest and attention we have at the moment is fantastic after holding the World Ploughing Contest in England last year. The support we have in the south-west of the country is especially good and clearly the decision to bring the Championships back to Somerset is a good one.” She added, “You don’t have to be interested in ploughing as there will be something for everyone at the event, but it is wonderful to see what these highly skilled competitors can do. It’s important we ensure these skills are kept alive as even with all the changes in agriculture, they still play an important part in the food chain as good ploughing will prepare the land well for better crops to be grown”.
There will be a wide selection of trade stands – from agricultural trade stands ranging from tractors and machinery to insurance through to the smaller shopping stalls with anything from countrywear to confectionery. Sponsorship opportunities are available for both market leaders and small companies with main sponsors this year being Bridgestone/Firestone and Bridgwater Agricultural Society.
Further information can be found on www.ploughmen.co.uk or from the Society of Ploughmen on 01302 852469 and you can follow them on Facebook and Twitter.
PHOTO taken at Bishops Lydeard for Exmoor Magazine by Andrew Hobbs
Thank you to Vicky Fiddes for sending us this report of the North Devon Schools Showjumping League semi-finals, which took place last weekend. Vicki writes:
On Sunday 30 July North Devon Schools Show Jumping League held their semi-finals at Coxleigh Barton Equestrian Centre in Barnstaple.
The 50cm team competition was won by Chulmleigh Primary School’s team, The Cubs. The riders in the cubs team were: Zak Flanagan, Ella Otto, Morgan Callister and Fred Barlow. The 50cm individual winner was Lilli Fiddes from Braunton Academy, riding Redvears Peregrine.
The 60cm was won by Braunton Academy’s team, Trivium: Lilli Fiddes, Sienna Gray, Katie Holton and Poppy Priscott. Katie Miles riding Apple Blossom from West Buckland took the individual win.
Sadly, during the 60 competition Chulmleigh rider, Ella, has a fall and broke her collar bone. We would like to take this opportunity to wish her a speedy recovery from everyone at NDSSJL and hope to see her back in action next season.
The 70cm team class was won by Bethany Robinson, Ellie Dawson, Molly Mellett and Caitie Streete, who were riding for Park Community College’s team 1. The individual winner was Grace Sinclair, riding Annandale Royal Warrant from South Molton Community College.
The 80cm team comp winners were South Molton. The riders making up Team Storm were Izzy Beard, Molly Matthews, Maisie Atkinson and Grace Sinclair. Grace and her horse Cregg Surprise also took the individual win.
The 90cm was run purely as an individual competition with Molly Matthews on Million Dollar Girls taking the win. She rides for South Molton Community College.
Head judge and course builder, Sara Gallagher, commented: “I have seen such an improvement from every one of the children, especially those who would not normally have the chance to go out and compete. I do love the team encouragement for each other.”
Show jumping trainer at NDSSJL, Nancy Hutchings, said she had thoroughly enjoyed training lots of the individual and team riders and that the improvement in all the riders from the first show to now has been incredible to watch.
Organisers Jo Gay and Lucy Jenkinson and myself have thoroughly enjoyed running the series and can’t wait for the Championship event on 1 September at Coxleigh Barton. The League has been an absolute pleasure to run. Each and every child has done their school proud! They have all been fantastic to watch, have shown great team spirit and been very polite throughout every competition.
After our championship show at Coxleigh on 1 September, the new league will be starting on 1 October. The competition is open to all school age children in North Devon. Full info on how to get involved can be found on the North Devon Schools Show Jumping League facebook group or at Coxleigh.com.
And thank you to Mrs Sherwood, who sent us a report detailing how South Molton Community College got on at the semis. Here is what she wrote:
Showcasing show jumping talent, this year is the inaugural North Devon Schools Show Jumping League. A friendly, local competition held at Coxleigh Barton Equestrian Centre, the newly established league is encouraging and welcoming all North Devon pupils to take part. Representing their respective schools, the successes of individual pupils have been tallied across the league tables since the first event in April. The monthly qualifiers came to a head on Sunday 30th July.
Pupils from South Molton Community College have consistently performed exceptionally well – claiming first and second place in the 80cm class and first and second in the 90cm.
Horse riding requires huge amounts of dedication and resilience, winning classes has not been down to luck or chance. Our students have worked hard throughout the cold and dark winter months to prepare for this league. I am always impressed with how well they turn their horses out and how considerately they ride – always putting the horse or pony first.
The school’s Show Jumping Team have been sponsored by Acorn Saddlery this year, who have provided the team with their purple livery.
Andrew Finney, Principal of South Molton Community College, said: “We are immensely proud of our students and how well they represent our school and local community. We’re very much looking forward to the Championship in September.”
A lot of the students at South Molton Community College are part of their local Pony Clubs and often train and attend additional competitions. Most recently, Jess Cumings, Josh Flanagan and Molly Matthews qualified for Grass Roots Area Eventing, with Jess Cumings, Molly Matthews and Lily Cronk qualifying for Grass Roots Show Jumping. Caroline Sherwood said: “SMCC students are kind, motivated and hardworking – they can achieve anything they put their mind to – inside or outside of the classroom.”
Editor’s note – Exmoor Mag would like to hear from all schools with their individual reports if they want to send them in. Don’t be left out! Email email@example.com to let us know how you got on at the Championship! Good luck to all the riders!
This coming Sunday – 30 July – is the lovely Porlock Horse Show, so it seems like a good moment to re-run a story by Tony James from our summer 2016 magazine, all about the Tuckers at West Luccombe Farm and this time-honoured event. We hasten to add that, as it stands, the forecast for the 2017 show (see poster, below) is looking promising!… (Photo above shows Charmain, John and Edith in the kitchen at West Luccombe Farm, by Andrew Hobbs).
“When I looked out of the window and saw the weather, I just couldn’t believe it,” says Charmain Dascombe (née Tucker). She
shudders at the memory. “We’d never had anything like it. All those poor people… “.
As it proved, it would take more than appalling weather to wash out the biggest event in the West Luccombe calendar – the traditional Porlock Horse Show, which for the past 40 years has been held on one of Charmain’s dad’s fields, and which, in July 2013, blithely carried on as usual, despite unseasonable cold, torrential rain and gale-force winds.
For Charmain, secretary since 2000, it was the culmination of nearly six months’ work and not a few sleepless nights putting together a show which has more than doubled in size since the time four local farmers sat around a kitchen table in 1971 to think of a way of raising money for local good causes. Since then, the show has only been cancelled a few times, including once during the 2001 foot-and-mouth outbreak.
“We lost the sheep classes because of foot-and-mouth and we had to fight quite hard to bring them back,” Charmain remembers. “Now they’re stronger than ever, which is as it should be, because sheep are very important around here.”
The show, like most things in this neck of the woods, has hardly changed in conception over the years – a classic country event with horse and pony classes, a traditional gymkhana, a parade of hounds, Exmoor Horn sheep classes, competitions for stags’ antlers and a dog show with prizes for the scruffiest ‘Doodle’ and the waggiest tail.
But make no mistake, this is a serious show, impeccably organised, with top-class competitors and stock and, while some similar rural events may have languished for lack of interest, the West Luccombe show has flourished. It now has four rings instead of the original two and the dog show has grown to the point where it has its own field.
Charmain has no doubt about the secret of its longevity. “The main aim is to have a really good family atmosphere and for children to have a nice day and to come away with a rosette. That’s the whole point of it really.”
She’s been involved with the show since childhood and her father, John Tucker, has been chairman for the past 25 years. Does he enjoy it? The reply is a cautious, “I don’t know if ‘enjoy’ is the right word.” But Andrew Hobbs and I saw him out there in last year’s wind and rain and he had a smile for everybody. John’s mother Edith, 95 at the time of writing this article, always played an active part in the show and Charmain has this photo of her presenting prizes in 1981.
Not surprisingly, the show becomes the main topic of conversation over mugs of tea in the kitchen of John’s West Luccombe Farm,
a welly’s throw from the show field. It first moved there in 1976 after five years in Old Lane, Bossington, and has been in West
Luccombe ever since.
“The access to Old Lane was difficult and so my father offered a field here,” John recalls. “The problem was that the show was always on the last Sunday in July – it still is – and my father disagreed with that. He was very traditional that way, but eventually we managed to persuade him.
“The show wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for the dozens of local helpers who come every year. Last year was probably the worst conditions we’ve ever had but they still turned up to make the sandwiches, steward the events and put up the jumps. The lovely thing is that
we’re now getting the grandchildren of the original helpers. That must bode well for the future.
“We don’t like meetings so we usually only have two a year – one in January about general organisation and the other to decide who will get our money! I have to admit that Charmain is left with most of the work and that can be pretty stressful, but she does a great job.”
“I never thought I’d hear you say that,” says his daughter with a smile.
The show generates around £2,000 a year for Porlock causes, which have included the cricket and football clubs, recreation ground, the
Visitor Centre, village hall, Christmas pantomime and plants for summer flower schemes.
You’ve got to tread carefully in this tight-knit little world… Charmain’s husband, David Dascombe, is a cousin of Julian Dascombe at Burrowhayes, who got his ten-acre field from John Tucker’s father… Janet Harding, of Horner Vale Tearoom, was last year’s show president and her husband Mike is the treasurer…
Not surprisingly, West Luccombe Farm, with its massive stone barns and impressive buildings, dominates this tiny hamlet. John Tucker has leased it from the National Trust since he was 29, after a Hardyesque turn of events combining good fortune and sadness with risk and challenge.
Since 1940, John’s father had farmed sheep on the family’s 700 acres at Lucott, high on the moor above Nutscale Water, and he was also the tenant farmer of 350 acres at West Luccombe. John took over Lucott when his dad moved down the valley to West Luccombe in 1963. “Then, after my father died in 1979, I approached the National Trust to take over the tenancy at West Luccombe.
“The agent asked if I would take on the ground at West Lynch as well, because the tenant, Tom Rawle, was retiring. That meant that our National Trust acreage would double overnight – from the 150 acres at West Luccombe to a total of 300, with West Lynch. And this was on top of the 700 acres at Lucott. I decided to go for it. You do these things when you’re young!”
Now responsible for 1,000 acres, John had to move fast. “I didn’t have enough stock for the land so I started growing corn, which I had never done before. We grew as good malting barley as you could get anywhere in the country and were getting £160 a ton –
more than you can get now.
“The problem was that because the ground was so stony you could only get about two tons an acre, when it was reckoned you needed double that to make a living. So we gave up and went back to sheep.
“I confess I got a lot more pleasure from that,” says the man who’s now a nationally-recognised judge of Exmoor Horns and whose son Dick, now running the Lucott farm, was judging sheep at the last Porlock Horse Show.
John reckons that Lucott land, much of it at 1,500ft, is ideal for his 1,300-strong flock. It’s cooler in summer and there are fewer
flies. “Exmoor Horns will live off very sparse vegetation and, if you cross them with a Leicester Bluefaced ram to get an Exmoor Mule, they’ll compete with any North Country breed and are easier to handle than Exmoor Horns.”
Life could be tough on the Dunkery slopes but it had its compensations. “When I was living up at Lucott during the winter of 1962-3 the snow was so bad I didn’t go to school from Christmas to Easter,” John says. “It was great. The snow was higher than the hedges and I rode my pony over the tops of gates. They brought us hay with a helicopter and I walked on the ice across Nutscale Water.”
But on this warm evening, winter seems an unreal memory. This year’s show is approaching fast and there’s still lots to do before Charmain, John and their band of helpers can be pretty certain that, come rain or shine, it will once more be a day to remember.
Masons Kings, the John Deere agricultural dealership in Somerset and Devon, is excited to announce its sponsorship with farmer-led organisation Exmoor Hill Farming Network.
The Network (EHFN) works to improve farm incomes, profitability and sustainable land management in Exmoor’s upland areas. As the region’s leading agricultural dealership, Masons Kings will be helping to raise awareness of this invaluable work, as well
as providing support for EHFN members.
Dave Knight, Chairman of the EHFN, said, “We’re really looking forward to working with Masons Kings, in particular our local depot at Exebridge. The Network is open to all on the moor, it arranges activities, support and training, bringing farmers together to learn from each other and from experts in the industry like Masons Kings.”
Roger Prior, Director at Masons Kings, said, “The whole team at Masons Kings is looking forward to the partnership, sharing our knowledge and expertise with the Exmoor Hill Farming Network community.”
The sponsorship supports funding from the Prince’s Countryside Fund and ENPA to further EHFN’s work and activities over the forthcoming months.
Find out more: contact Katherine Williams, EHFN Officer on 01643 841455/ 07970 795808 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Staff, volunteers and trustees from the Moorland Mousie Trust, which runs the Exmoor Pony Centre at Ashwick near Dulverton in Somerset, are celebrating an astounding achievement as their crowdfunding campaign draws to a close.
The 42-day appeal has seen the charity raise a staggering £35,000, exceeding the initial target by several thousand pounds thanks to the generosity of more than 850 people. The Centre is now safe until the end of the year and the staff and trustees can now focus on plans for its long-term survival. Centre Manager, Linzi Green, explained: “When we launched the appeal we were so desperate for funds to prevent the Centre from closing, it really was a make or break situation. We are totally overwhelmed by the response and are so grateful to everyone who has donated. However, we still desperately need funding to ensure the future of the charity and of the many Exmoor ponies we care for. ”
Trustee Juliet Rogers has been amazed by the public’s support: “It has been wonderful to see people from all over the world, of all ages and backgrounds, getting behind our charity and helping us to continue our work taking the unwanted Exmoor ponies who would otherwise have no future.”
The charity’s trustees have praised all the volunteers who help to keep the Centre running day to day and have bestowed huge thanks on two volunteers, Gail Cheeseman and Doulla Aebli, who have organised the Crowdfunder campaign and devoted the last six weeks to ensuring the threat of closure no longer hangs over the Exmoor Pony Centre.
Sarah Bryan, chief executive of Exmoor National Park Authority, said: “Many congratulations to the Exmoor Pony Centre for a fantastic fundraising effort, we are delighted to hear that their target was so comprehensively beaten. It is a testament to the dedication and hard work of a small team of people who care so much about the Exmoor ponies which enliven our landscapes.”
Donations and offers of help have poured into the Centre and fundraising events such as sponsored rides, cake stalls, non-uniform days and pony parties are being organised by supporters throughout the UK. There is still much to achieve before the charity’s future can be assured and the fight still goes on for the ponies. Staff and volunteers hope a busy summer will continue to boost funds with revenue from riding sessions, activity days and visitors.
“The real stars of this campaign have been the Exmoor Ponies themselves.” said Linzi, “I am sure if they could speak they would like to have the final word and say thanks to everyone for supporting this appeal and giving them, and the Exmoor Pony Centre, a future.”
You can find details of activities and events, follow the charity’s progress or sign up to be a supporter and receive newsletters, on the website: www.exmoorponycentre.org.uk or on Facebook: www.facebook.com/TheExmoorPonyCentre. The charity is also pleased to accept donations via our website, by post and by phone on 01398 323093.
A celebration of Somerset’s heritage is taking place at Somerset Rural Life Museum when it re-opens on Saturday 3 June. Local people are invited to join the South West Heritage Trust for opening day at the refurbished Museum, which tells the rich story of Somerset’s rural and social history.
The day will begin with an opening ceremony at 11am. It will mark 100 years since George and Louisa Mapstone took the tenancy of Abbey Farm in 1917. Their granddaughter, Margaret Shreeve, who grew up on the farm, will be part of the opening ceremony. She will be joined by children from Elmhurst Junior School in Street. Based on Margaret’s recollections of farm life the children have created a painting which is on permanent display in the Museum.
Following the ceremony, the Museum will be open for the first visitors to explore the new galleries in the farmhouse and former cowsheds, as well as to see the farmyard, the orchard and the magnificent fourteenth-century Abbey Barn. There will be traditional village games, music, and delicious local food to enjoy. Families can discover the history of the farm on a fun family trail around the site. Visitors will also be able to enjoy the museum’s first exhibition, ‘FARM’, a collection of paintings and drawings by local artist Kate Lynch who will be there on the day.
The Museum is re-opening following completion of a £2.4 million redevelopment project led by the Trust. Visitors to the Glastonbury museum will be able to explore rural life from the 1800s onwards and discover more about the county’s heritage including its landscape, food and farming, working life and rural crafts.
To mark the opening weekend the Trust is offering special free admission on Saturday 3 and Sunday 4 June. The Museum, on Chilkwell Street, will be open from 11am on Saturday and 10am on Sunday and closes at 5pm.
The redevelopment project was chiefly funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, Viridor Credits Environmental Company, Somerset County Council, the Garfield Weston Foundation and other generous funders. The Trust is also most grateful to Somerset Building Preservation Trust and the Friends of the Somerset Rural Life Museum for their consistent support. Building work was undertaken by Ken Biggs Contractors Ltd.
Nothing is more evocative of spring than seeing new lambs by their mothers out in the countryside.
But please remember that it is at this time of year when sheep and lambs are at their most vulnerable. Quantock Rangers, local farmers and the Police would like to highlight the problems that some dogs can cause to livestock on the hills.
From 1 March to 31 July dog owners are required by law to keep their dogs on a lead when being walked across Open Access Land. In all other areas of the countryside dogs should be kept under close control. It’s not just the physical attacks that cause harm but simply allowing a dog to chase sheep may cause ewes to abort or become injured.
Owen Jones, Quantock Hills AONB Ranger, said, “We’d like to take this opportunity to remind all dog owners to please keep their dogs on leads when walking close to lambs or sheep. Even if lambs are not present in a flock, the ewes may well be in lamb and a dog chasing them could cause them to abort.”
Owen went on to say, “There have been many times when Quantock Rangers have had to deal with the aftermath of dog attacks on sheep and in all cases I believe they could have been easily avoided – it’s never easy visiting a farmer to tell them that their livestock has been injured or killed.”
Between 1 March and 31 July, keeping your dog on a lead on Open Access Land will also help protect ground-nesting birds, as dogs run about in the undergrowth, and can flush birds such as nightjars and skylarks off their nests and may cause them to abandon them.
If your dog does kill or cause harm to livestock, you can be liable for a significant fine and for the value of the livestock harmed – your pet may also be dispatched, the cost of which will also have to be borne by you. Moreover, if your dog is actually seen in action harassing livestock it could be shot on sight.
If you actually witness an attack in progress, call 999 otherwise any incidents witnessed should be reported to the Police on 101 or directly to the Quantock Hills AONB Office on 01823 451884.
THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE EXMOOR HILL FARMING NETWORK…
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 Hill Farming 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.”