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ADAS explores opportunities for ‘High Nature Value’ Farming in Northern England in a post-Brexit world

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ADAS has recently published a report on behalf of the Northern Upland Chain Local Nature Partnership (NUCLNP) to better understand the future of  ‘High Nature Value’ farming systems and their ability to provide public goods in a post-Brexit world.

ADAS explores opportunities for ‘High Nature Value’ Farming in Northern England in a post-Brexit world

The Partnership focuses on helping local farmers and environmental agencies to collaborate in ways that will secure a more robust economic future across a number of Protected Landscapes in northern England. ADAS was commissioned to help identify novel opportunities for farmers in the northern upland chain, after Britain’s exit from the European Union (EU), with a particular emphasis on ‘High Nature Value’ farming systems. 

Challenge

The project set out to identify options to help the development of economically viable farming systems underpinned by sustainable land management in the region. This is of particular interest to the Partnership because it is acknowledged that upland farming practices and the people working on this land are important to the delivery of key elements of the protected landscapes such as priority habitats and landscape features. Changes to support post-Brexit have the potential to erode the viability of upland farms which could result in a loss of knowledge and skills. This knowledge and associated skills could be utilised to deliver a range of public goods including clean air, clean water, biodiversity and health and well-being. The Partnership recognised that actions need to be taken at a farm business level, within the agricultural sector and by policy makers, to manage the impact of Brexit on this area of the industry. 

Approach

The project first analysed the results of the DEFRA Consultation ‘Health and Harmony: the Future for Food, Farming and the Environment in a Green Brexit’, which ran until May 2018. It recognised that upland farming is heavily supported by CAP direct payments and agri-environment schemes. This was substantiated with data analysis using baseline Farm Business Survey (FBS) data and a modelling exercise which explored two future policy scenarios. The results suggested that it is highly likely that farmers in England’s northern upland chain will be adversely affected by changes to CAP payments when new systems are implemented after Brexit. A stakeholder workshop was held, including farmers from within the study area. This was a key part of the project which aimed to share knowledge on the local farming landscape and explore potential opportunities after the UK’s exit from the EU. Attendees from local farms and NGOs focused their discussion on the results of the data analysis and opportunities for NUCLNP after Brexit. Through this workshop attendees and hosts were able to better understand the potential economic impacts of proposed changes, understand the role of the NUCLNP in delivering public goods in the region and gain views of the current economic position based on the FBS data and the policy scenario analysis. 
The ideas shared at the workshop were also reinforced through ADAS’s analysis of 5 key case studies, which covered work conducted by the Burren Programme in Ireland, the Black Mountains Land Use Partnership in Wales, the Pumlumon Project in Wales, the Fowey River Improvement Auction Cornwall and the Coigach and Assynt Living Landscape Project in Scotland. 

Outcome

ADAS evidence gathering and analysis found that farming in the uplands is unlikely to be viable in its current format in the long term. This is particularly evident when considering Farm Business survey data, which found average income streams for Less Favoured Areas Grazing Livestock were highly dependent on CAP payments, a removal of which will have a profound impact. ADAS produced twelve key opportunities to mitigate this change, including actions for the farm business, for the private sector and future public investment. 

Project Team

For more information please contact Carla Turner in our Policy & Economics team on or Fiona Tweedie in our Agricultural and Land Management team. 

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