By Steven Salter @SSalterGazette


FARMERS in Exmoor National Park need compensating for the public services they provide, a leading agricultural organisation has warned.

National Parks England is calling for the Government to protect the future of farming following a nearly 20 per cent drop in the amount of land in National Parks under agri-environment agreements since 2015.

These schemes help fund farming and land management practices that support biodiversity, enhance the landscape and improve the quality of water, air and soil, and are critical to sustaining many of Exmoor National Park’s special qualities.

Dave Knight, Exmoor Hill Farming Network chairman, said: “There has to be a way of compensating farmers for the many public services they provide beyond basic food production, particularly in National Parks where the balance between farming and nature is so delicate.

“It’s worrying that fear over potential funding gaps may be driving farmers away from agri-environment schemes.

“Our own joint proposal with Exmoor National Park Authority – Exmoor’s Ambition – aims to put the environment at the heart of upland land management and we look forward to continuing our conversations with Defra and Natural England to help bring about a resolution as soon as possible.”

Robin Milton, chairman of the Exmoor National Park Authority, added: “Exmoor is a living-working landscape with many delicate habitats reliant on traditional farming techniques stemming back centuries.

"Any gap in funding for farmers to carry out environmental land management could spell the end for many of the traditional trades and skills that define our National Parks.

"The consequences for both nature and livelihoods could be very serious indeed.

“Many Exmoor farming enterprises have been around for generations so it’s not the first time we’ve had to adapt to a changing political landscape.

"But like so many UK industries right now, we need assurances to plan our future business.”

Originally published in the

Somerset County Gazette