New toolkit to support upland farmers

New Upland Farmer Toolkit to support DEFRA roll out of payment scheme changes in England

24th April 2023

Upland farmers in England face a raft of specific and significant challenges in the transition to fair and sustainable farming. Against a backdrop of inflation, changes to trade policy and supply chain issues, and the move away from Basic Payments towards more nature-friendly subsidy schemes, the Upland Farmer Toolkit provides support for upland farmers in understanding the implications of these changes for their businesses.

Projections by Julia Aglionby, FFCC Commissioner and Professor at the University of Cumbria’s Centre for National Parks and Protected Areas, suggest that the average livestock farm in the English uplands faces a 60% drop in income this financial year compared to last, due to the phasing out of area-based Basic Payments.

New “public goods” payments through the Environmental Land Management schemes will go some way in making up for the loss in farm income – but the full detail of these schemes is not yet finalised. In response to this uncertainty, and the volatility of both the markets and policy landscape in recent years, a new Upland Farmer Toolkit aims to help farmers and land managers understand the changes that are taking place, 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 toolkit offers an information hub with sections on farmer business; schemes, payments and grants; and farming – with specific support on areas like getting help with mental health and dealing with change. It also provides practical guidance on regenerative, nature-friendly and low-input methods – helping farmers build a more resilient, sustainable and profitable farming future.

Welcoming the new toolkit, Julia Aglionby said, “Upland farmers are facing significant challenges with the phase out of the BPS and the introduction of ELM. It is vital that farmers understand the impact of these changes on their businesses. The toolkit is farmer friendly with calculators to analyse the changes and help plan for the future by suggesting practical actions that farmers may want to take.

“We hope this toolkit will be helpful for farmers across the English Uplands and we look forward to working with Farmer Networks across England supporting those businesses and advisory organisations working together to navigate the changing landscape.”

The toolkit was co-created with farmers and FFCC, with funding from the Lake District National Park through DEFRA’s ‘Farming in Protected Landscapes’ (FiPL) scheme.