Food, Farming and Countryside Commission


Explore what the inquiry has done to date and what their work programme looks like going forward.

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. The landscape for support for the uplands is complex, 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.

What’s happening now

Here’s a handy one-page summary of the Inquiry so far. We have four work areas developing and we are focusing on two at the moment:

Developing the National Nature Service (NNS) recommendation:
bringing together organisations and individuals across the land-based sector to codesign what an NNS (name in discussion) would look like in Cumbria.

Developing an Environmental Land Management (ELM) toolkit
to support family farms through the transition into new policy and payment schemes. These changes are coming about due to leaving the EU.

Two further work streams are being scoped out at the moment:

Getting local food to market:
Possible focus on using procurement as a mechanism for broader access to local, high quality food.

Health and wellbeing:
Possible focus on the therapeutic benefits of agriculture and horticulture, and community access to woodlands.

What has happened previously

In 2019, Professor Lois Mansfield at the University of Cumbria analysed the existing resources being deployed to support upland farming, in her reportGap Analysis for Cumbrian Upland Farming Initiatives Post-Brexit. Key recommendations included:

The provision of a local advisory service
Relationship building to improve dialogue and understanding between stakeholders

From July 2020 onwards, the work areas outlined above have been developed with cross-sectoral organisations and individuals to pilot some of the gap analysis and the FFCC's Our Future in the Land recommendations in Cumbria.

Who is involved

The Cumbria inquiry is being hosted by the University of Cumbria, chaired by Professor Julia Aglionby and co-ordinated by Hannah Field. There is a cross sectoral leadership group and working groups for specific workstreams. Please contact Hannah to find out more information and get involved.


Hannah Field