Health & Harmony: Defra’s Farming Future embraces the Uplands.

Health & Harmony, the consultation document presented to Parliament by the Secretary of State for Defra by the command of Her Majesty the Queen was published today 27th February 2018. We all have until 8th May 2018 to respond via Citizen Space. There will also be meetings across the country to engage. The Uplands Alliance will be responding as a network but we also encourage people to respond separately.

After January’s 25 Year Environment Plan whereby the Uplands were notable by their absence this document represents a complete shift. Defra has listened and actively recognised the importance of the uplands to our nation. The work of the Uplands Alliance is also recognised in Annex A, Stakeholder Proposals. Thank you to all who have worked with us over the last two years to deliver a co-ordinated message to Government.

On page 34 Health & Harmony says:

“The beauty of the upland farm is often in inverse proportion to the fertility of its soil and the profit margins of their businesses. Hill farmers maintain a panorama of dry stonewalls and grazed moorlands. The upland way of life, the unique food produced, and the great art that these landscapes have inspired attract visitors from around the world. Areas such as the uplands deliver many public goods that are worthy of public investment: not only are they a beautiful and rich part of our heritage, they can encourage biodiversity, protect water quality and store carbon.”

The document and the evidence review is frank in the challenges that uplands communities and businesses face and encourages us to provide suggestions for a way forward in order to deliver multiple public good including: Preserving rural resilience and traditional farming and landscapes in the uplands. The importance of other upland assets such as peat bogs also feature highly.

Many of the questions asked throughout the document can be responded to with an uplands perspective but chapter 8, Supporting rural communities and remote farming, addresses some upland issues explicitly, where the questions Defra asks us include:

  1. How should farming, land management and rural communities continue to be supported to deliver environmental, social and cultural benefits in the uplands

We will be in touch with all in our network encouraging input. In the meantime please do not hesitate to email us at or leave a response below.

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