News & Events


The Uplands Alliance has brought together over 100 hill farmers with Defra staff to explore how farmers can create a brighter future for their businesses and the environment. Farmers were keen to stress how many public benefits they already provide and that with appropriate support they can provide more.  They also reminded Defra that these public benefits are delivered alongside producing high quality food and being the glue of rural communities.

Leaving the EU will result in the biggest change for seventy years in how farmers are supported. No longer will farmers be paid to farm but instead they will be paid to provide public benefits which are not paid for “at the till” including biodiversity, carbon storage, clean water and heritage landscapes. This new scheme is called the Environmental Land Management Scheme. 

The meetings were facilitated by the Uplands Alliance with funding from the Prince’s Countryside Fund. In each of nine areas we brought together 12-20 farmers to meet with Defra staff. Meetings were held in Bodmin, Dartmoor, Exmoor, Shropshire, Peak District, Yorkshire, Cumbria, Durham and the South Pennines. AHDB also attended three of the meetings.

Our report released this week highlights the key findings of these meetings and include:

  • Long term schemes (~25 years) would allow business planning and delivery of environmental benefits
  • Payment rates need to be sufficient to ensure business viability and should pay for delivery of existing good practice as well as improvements
  • There should be a flexible approach to delivery focusing on outcomes not prescriptions
  • Forms that can be filled in by the farmer will result in a higher commitment to delivering outcomes
  • Local advisors are needed to support application and delivery
  • Monitoring and verification of outcomes should be built into the scheme  

The Uplands Alliance continues to be actively working with Defra in developing the ELM scheme and testing new policies and schemes with those who will be delivering them. 

The full report and the meeting notes from each local meeting are available to download below

Hill Farmers engage with Defra in London

In March nine hill farmers travelled to London to meet with Defra officials from the Environmental Land Management scheme (ELMs) team and from the Future Farming Team. We had an excellent day sharing knowledge. Hill farmers explained to Defra the challenges of running their farms in a time of uncertainty and Defra explained how they are developing the ELMs programme and the phasing out of BPS.

The costs of this meeting were met by grant funding from the Prince’s Countryside Fund which lunch kindly provided by Defra. The day was facilitated by Nigel Stone and Simon Thorp.

This meeting is being followed up with meetings planned across the nine upland areas of England where the farmer who came to London will bring together 15-20 farmers to meet with Defra representatives.

The report of the London meeting can be found here:

Uplands comes to the #ORFC2019

The Uplands Alliance is hosting three sessions at the Oxford Real Farming Conference 2019. We’ve prepared a short video about what we will be doing – if you’re attending the conference do join our sessions. they will be in the Christopher Room in St Aldate’s staring at 2.30pm on the Thursday 3rd January. We will also be selling our tea towels

The three sessions are:

  1. Maximising the potential of uplands businesses
  2. Farmers – showcasing Stewardship
  3. Making the most of the public benefits your farm provides – an Uplands Farming Renaissance

Each session will have three short presentations then 30 mins for an interactive mini workshop

Details of the ORFC Uplands Sessions. UA-OFRC-Programme 2019

Our Letter to George Eustice: We requested explicit support for Upland farming systems underpinning delivery of cultural and natural heritage

George Eustice, Minister of State for Agriculture has on several occasions referred to the Uplands Alliance. To ensure there is clarity over what we have said to Minister Eustice we publish our letter dated 29th September 2018 to him. In this we stress the need for a backstop to support the upland farming systems that deliver public benefits.

The Uplands Alliance has asked for an amendment to Part 1 of the bill to include explicit inclusion of the words “farming systems” in part 1 that support the deliver of public benefits. Our full Parliamentary Briefing can be read here

Eustice UA Letter 29-09-18

UA-Parliamentary Briefing-Ag Bill-Oct 2018-FINAL.jpg


Agriculture Bill: Uplands Alliance Response

The Uplands Alliance Steering Group met on 18th September to discuss the Agriculture Bill published by the Government on 12th September. The first debate in the House of Commons is on 10th October 2018.

We have produced a parliamentary briefing which we are circulating to relevant Ministers, MPs and Peers as well as civil servants. We have also asked for a meeting with George Eustice MP to discuss our concerns and we are already meeting with a range of civil servants to discuss these.

Our Particular Concerns are:

  • There is no assurance on funding post 2022. England’s Uplands currently receive ~£230 million each year. As a minimum this total needs to be guaranteed long term to secure and enhance public benefits; those that are not paid for at the till e.g. wildlife, carbon, water, access, landscape.
  • The Secretary of State’s speeches have praised upland shepherds but the Bill and Explanatory Notes provide no assurance that the farming systems that deliver our much loved landscapes will be supported. We seek a backstop to secure upland communities’ traditional management systems where they enhance natural and cultural benefits.
  • Landscape is not referenced but we know it is beautiful landscapes that primarily draw the 70 million visits to England’s uplands each year.
  • The Bill is silent on actively providing financial support to rural communities to grow and diversify; these communities require diverse economies to underpin public benefits
  • The Bill fails to acknowledge the complexity of land tenure with multiple players operating on the same piece of land who all can contribute to public benefits

Please do write to your MP and express your views. The more people who care about the uplands write directly the more influence we will have.

If you would like to include a copy of our Briefing including our suggestions for amendments you can download it here:

UA-Parliamentary Briefing-Ag Bill-Oct 2018-FINAL

Details of the Bill and its progress through Parliament can be found here

Uplands Alliance: Core Narrative

The Uplands Alliance Steering Group has been working over the last few months with professional comms support to improve understanding around what we are looking for from England’s Uplands. With the support of our Comms Consultants we have produced a Narrative. This is a working draft and will be the basis for comms products for engaging with farmers and other land managers as well as policy makers.

If you have any comments you’d like to share on this please email us on:

Uplands Alliance Core Narrative-June 2018

Uplands Alliance’s Response to Defra

The Uplands Alliance has responded to Defra’s consultation called Health and Harmony. Please find our submission below. We continue to work closely with Defra and attended a Defra Uplands’ Roundtable on 3rd May and will be meeting shortly with the Defra team overseeing the future land management scheme.

If you have any comments on the attached please do get in touch with us at:

Uplands Alliance-health-and-harmony-response

Your Views Please: Defra’s Future for the Uplands

The Uplands Alliance proposes to respond to the Government Consultation, Health and Harmony and needs your views. The Uplands Alliance is also mentioned in the Stakeholder Proposals so we are making an impact.
We are planning to respond on areas where there is most agreement and will limit our response to the following Chapters:
4 Successful Future for Farming
5 Public Money for Public Goods
6 Enhancing our Environment
8 Supporting Rural Communities and Remote Farming
We would really appreciate your input and here are the questions we would like to answer. Please do let us know what you think. Either respond directly try emailing or answer the questions on the document below return that to us.
Do pass this on to anyone else who you may consider is interested. Thank you!

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.