Gap analysis for Cumbrian upland farming initiatives post-Brexit

Mansfield, Lois ORCID logo ORCID: (2019) Gap analysis for Cumbrian upland farming initiatives post-Brexit. (Unpublished)

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Upland farming businesses in the UK have been and continue to be some of the most marginal and fragile in terms of financial sustainability and resilience. Having said this, it is widely recognised that these farm systems, beyond food production, provide a wide range of public goods and ecosystem services as well as underpinning social and economic activity in sparsely populated, rural areas. So much so, that upland agriculture receives special mention in the recent Defra (2018a) Health& Harmony consultation in preparation for the new 2019 Agriculture Bill post Brexit. If UK society wishes to benefit from these additional values upland farming brings along with its productive capacity for future food security, then it is imperative to continue to provide appropriate support to ensure business viability. With the UK’s exit from the EU imminent, an opportunity has presented itself to reshape farm support in line with developing Government policy (Defra, 2018b). In response, a number of initiatives and networks have been set up in Cumbria, alongside operating projects to investigate and support the future of upland farming in the county; post Brexit. They draw on a long experience of innovation, project development and programme operation spanning over forty years in the county.

Particular emphasis has been placed on the shift towards payments for natural capital, public goods and ecosystem services to fit government agendas. These changes would see significant changes in farming practices and the role of farmers within the landscape, but are not the panacea for all ills; funds will be limited, not all businesses will fit the criteria. Nevertheless, those businesses which may fall ‘outside’ the proposed funding envelope play a crucial role in the greater social and economic fabric of upland Cumbria, its communities, businesses and landscapes through its production of the county’s unique cultural capital. The ability to fund parts and not the whole could lead to a mosaic of extensive and intensively farmed landscapes which moves away from that desired by society as a whole, and which will threaten the Government’s own vision of uplands; The upland way of life, the unique food produced, and the great art that these landscapes have inspired attract visitors from around the world (Defra,2018b:34). The complexity presented by contemporary and developing initiatives, the multiple stakeholders and their diverse modus operandi make it difficult to ascertain whether these types of farm support will address the fundamental continuation of the upland sector in Cumbria. It is hard to divine where they complement to create greater synergies or where they conflict, undermining and erodingany positives achieved. With this in mind, the purpose of this research was to identify where there aregaps in support, be that for specific communities or groups, where investigations, activities andconsensus aligns or diverges. Such an analysis will provide a better steer on use of future funds toavoid repetition as well as support innovation and make a positive difference in the uplands.

Item Type: Report
Departments: Centre for National Parks and Protected Areas (CNPPA)
Additional Information: A report for the Royal Society of Arts’ Food, Farming and Countryside Commission: ‘Our Common Ground’. Authored by Professor Lois T. Mansfield, Centre for National Parks & Protected Areas, Ambleside Campus, University of Cumbria, UK.
Depositing User: Anna Lupton
Date Deposited: 13 Jun 2019 12:04
Last Modified: 13 Jan 2024 09:01


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