Call for resilience fund to protect upland farms on the brink

A coalition of farming organisations have come together to demand the creation of a fund for uplands resilience.

The call follows warnings from industry that farming in the uplands is becoming unsustainable with the loss of direct support and very little cash available from the Environmental Land Management (ELM) scheme.

See also: Defra figures spell looming disaster in the uplands

In a letter to farm minister Mark Spencer, representatives from Sustain, the Nature Friendly Farming Network, Tenant Farmers Association and Pasture for Life said many upland farms were “on the brink of going out of business”.

“We have already proposed ways ELM could support upland farm businesses, but we believe there are wider tools that Defra should use to help upland farms be more economically resilient and viable,” the letter read.

“The UK government could roll out targeted funding to help invest in enterprise, jobs and community networks in upland areas.

“For example, the UK Shared Prosperity Fund could be targeted to deliver these objectives. Alternatively, the development of a one-off targeted uplands resilience fund, focused on local food, environment and agri-tourism initiatives, could be a more appropriate, targeted measure.”

The group said the cash would deliver economic, social and environmental outcomes in upland areas, helping farms to provide decent work and community connections.

They also pointed out that the needs of tenants would have to be addressed in order to deliver prosperity in the uplands, and urged the government to set out a timetable for implementation of the Rock Review recommendations.

At the end of February, Baroness Rock, the author of the review, said she expected ministers to have set out their response “within a month”, but it has still not been published.

See more