Explore the work of FFCC's Cumbria inquiry

Latest from our Cumbria inquiry

New Upland Farmer Toolkit to support payment scheme changes

Developed with farmers, farming support organisations and other stakeholders, a new Upland Farmer Toolkit aims to help farmers and land managers in the uplands understand what implications the changes to Basic Payments will have on their business – while also assessing their current financial circumstances and suggesting new ways to adapt their business and supplement their income.

This is done through a simple three step process and uses tools including a BPS calculator, a Sustainable Farming Incentive Calculator, and a Countryside Stewardship Calculator to help decision making. The tooklit also provides practical guidance on regenerative, nature-friendly and low-input methods – helping farmers build a more resilient, sustainable and profitable farming future.

Discover the Upland Farmer Toolkit here

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Supporting a skilled, inclusive workforce fit for the future of land-based work in Cumbria

FFCC’s Cumbria inquiry has completed a scoping study for a Land and Nature Skills Service (LANSS) for Cumbria, working with over 50 organisations locally. Outcomes of the scoping study include a ‘blueprint’ for implementation of the service and a prototype website.

The role of this new service would involve connecting people with learning and training opportunities for land-and nature-based work, co-ordination to enable the most effective array of such opportunities to be provided in Cumbria and promotion of work in the sector with a focus on inclusivity and environmental sustainability.

We are now in the transition phase of the LANSS (as outlined in the blueprint), moving towards implementation of the Service.

Our feasibility report and annexes present the findings of the scoping study

Amplify the delivery of land and nature-based skills, training and knowledge in Cumbria

As UK nations seek to tackle multiple challenges, from post-Brexit farming and environmental policy to the UK's climate leadership in the run up to COP27, government and business are recognising the critical importance of community-based approaches to delivering practical and radical outcomes.

Responding to the challenges ahead requires a highly skilled, localised workforce; there are organisations poised to deliver this, but also gaps in skills, knowledge and training which need to be filled to build a workforce fit for the future. Locally, the loss of Newton Rigg College – the only land-based college in Cumbria - has exacerbated this.

FFCC's Cumbria inquiry is helping to address this by convening land and nature based partnerships, businesses, communities, young people, education institutions, NGOs and statutory bodies to develop a Land and Nature Skills Service (LANSS) for Cumbria. The service will link up opportunities already being delivered as well as identify and address skills gaps.

After a 12-month initial collaboration amongst dozens of organisations, the LANSS project team is now scoping how the service can best support the emergence of a skilled Cumbrian workforce fit for the future.

LANSS is one of a number of skills-based pilot projects sharing learning across UK countries and counties.

Read the briefing for the detailed scoping phase of a LANSS

The unheard voices

Back in 2019 FFCC researchers took a seven-month bike ride around UK counties and countries to hear the too often unheard voices. Fork in the Road tells their story.

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“If you remove the livestock from the hills, you remove the labour, and then you remove the next generation. There won't be a way to replace what is lost. If you take young farmers out of the landscape, you are stripping it of its true capital.”

Cumbrian farmer, Fork in the Road

Priority areas for FFCC Cumbria

Over the course of the inquiry, we have witnessed many examples of best practice initiatives in Cumbria. These point to an opportunity to join the dots and amplify the work already underway in Cumbria, identifying gaps and fostering collective leadership for a fairer, more sustainable future for food, land-based industries, nature and communities.

Following recommendations from the University of Cumbria and FFCC's Our Future in the Land report, and partners across different sectors in Cumbria, FFCC's Cumbria inquiry will focus on two immediate related work areas, whilst supporting other aligned projects in the county, with a view to reassessing our own priority work areas over time.


Skills Service

for Land and Nature


Farming Smarter

ELM toolkit

Stories of hope and action

Across UK countries and counties, citizens are taking action. FFCC teams hit the road (on our bikes) in 2021 to find out how they are making change, and what government and business can do to support them. Together, these stories form our Field Guide for the Future

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“I'd never even heard of rotational grazing. We weren't taught about it at agricultural college. So once I discovered how grass actually likes to grow, then it felt like we were gaining momentum and we could go forward. You kind of open this whole new world of a different type of farming, that just makes 100% sense.”

Reno Renison, Cannerheugh Farm in Cumbria

More about FFCC Cumbria

Cumbria is the third largest county in England, and largely rural.

The county's population of half a million is dwarfed by tens of millions of visitors each year, many of them heading to the iconic Lake District. Recently inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage site for its cultural landscape, the area is subject to intense debates about the future of upland farming and the impacts of potential policy changes on local communities.

Financial support for the uplands is complex to navigate, making it challenging for farmers, funders and support organisations to deliver change in an effective manner. At the same time, whilst high-quality food is produced in Cumbria, diets do not reflect this equally across the county: there are significant areas of deprivation and diet-related ill health and progression to higher education are well below the national average.

FFCC's Cumbria inquiry seeks to address these challenges by convening leadership across sectors, developing a shared vision for change, providing a supportive backbone across many related projects and sharing learning within and across UK counties.