The future of upland farming beyond the CAP

image credit RSPB & Sorcha Lewisimage credit RSPB & Sorcha LewisLeaving the EU poses opportunities as well as challenges for Welsh upland farmers, say organisers of a Conference which will see farmers, academics, conservation bodies, and Government officials come together to develop a vision for the future of land use policy in Wales’ iconic uplands landscape.

Upland farming in Wales could be at a crossroads, which is why Bangor University, RSPB Cymru, and Cynidr Consulting, have worked in partnership with support from the Welsh Government, to organise a unique event on the 15 March, to discuss the future of upland farming, and to offer farmers the opportunity to contribute to future land use policy developments.

Eifiona Thomas Lane, lecturer in Environmental Management at Bangor University’s School of Environment, Natural Resources and Geography, and one of the Conference organisers explained:

“In many ways, Brexit has led to the future of upland farming in Wales hanging in the balance, but in others, it has opened it to a new plethora of opportunities for strengthening the resilience of the uplands and its communities, as well as driving more sustainable food production and land management.

Credit:RSPBCredit:RSPBIn light of this changing policy landscape, this event will examine the possible implications of leaving the EU, and facilitate wide discussion on the impact of Wales’ new environmental and sustainability-focussed legislation and policies on upland farming. It will strengthen key relationships between farming and landscape conservation, access, managing water, energy and nature. Farmers will have an opportunity to discuss and contribute to future policy developments for the future of upland farming in Wales.“

Speakers include Welsh Government’s Head of Agricultural Strategy and Policy Unit, Kevin Austin, Aberystwyth University’s expert in Agricultural Economics, Professor Peter Midmore, and representatives from the upland farming organisation Fairness for the Uplands, Hefin Jones and Tony Davies. The day will culminate in an interactive session to capture key issues and challenges which will be used to inform the development of future upland policy. 

Cyndir Consulting Rural Development Consultant, Jane Ricketts Hein, said: “This is a really exciting time where a range of partnerships are springing up in response to Brexit policy changes, and this is just one of many examples across Wales where we can see organisations and individuals with common interests coming together to find the best possible solutions for our rural communities.”

RSPB Cymru Land Use Manager, Arfon Williams, said: “Farming is essential to the well-being of current and future generations in Wales. Until now, farming policies have largely encouraged more intensive farming practices that have squeezed spaces for nature and limited the environmental benefits that sustainable farming can provide.”

“We have the chance to change the future of upland farming so that it fulfils its potential to deliver environmental benefits for all, such as locking up atmospheric carbon in upland habitats and ensuring drinking water supplies. The challenge for upland farming is to achieve this alongside producing sustainable amounts of quality food and other commodities. This event is one of many positive actions happening all over the country to bring common-interest groups together to find common solutions to modern farming policy problems.”

The free one-day conference, What is the future for upland farming in Wales: Beyond CAP, is held at the Glasdir Business and Conference Centre, Plas yn Dre, Llanrwst, Conwy LL26 0DF on 15 March 2017 from 9:15 – 16:00.

You can book the conference through eventbrite here

Publication date: 20 February 2017