Food Production and Heritage - Farming
Many farming activities are central to conserving our landscape, biodiversity and built heritage. These include:
- Maintaining hedgerows and field patterns
- Grazing by sheep or cattle
- Allowing Brent geese to graze agricultural land when eelgrass is in short supply
- Reducing shore poaching by livestock
- Woodland management
- Retaining barns used by bats and owls
- Maintaining high water quality in streams
- Retaining wetlands
- and much more
European legislation and the Common Agricultural Policy determine the future of farming to a large extent. The latest reforms promote a broader, more holistic approach to landscape management across clusters of farms.
There are pressures for more intensive food production but it is hoped that biodiversity, wetland and rough grazing habitat, and the crisscross pattern of hedges and field boundaries overlaid on the drumlins, which are such a strong feature of the landscape, can be maintained.
There will be opportunities to raise agri-environment scheme issues within the review of the Rural Development Programme 2016-2020. 1,600 farmers participated in the former round of agri-environment schemes.
New opportunities are emerging for artisan food production and some farms are finding niche markets with local food outlets and restaurants. Some farms have also diversified into accommodation, garden centre and activity provision.
There is also scope to support and highlight the work of many farmers and landowners to conserve and promote our heritage, from hedgerow and wetland habitats to traditional gate posts and windmills.