State of Farming in Exmoor study

The research was commissioned by the Exmoor Hill Farming Network, through North Devon+, with funding support from Defra and the Exmoor National Park Authority).

Professor Janet Dwyer led the research with help from Jane Mills, Dr John Powell, Dr Peter Gaskell, Nick Lewis and Johnnie Felton.

The aims of the research were to describe the current state of farming on Exmoor, evaluate the changes within the last ten years and factors contributing to these changes, and outline likely future trends in the light of reforms to the CAP.

The study drew on secondary sources of data, a large telephone/on-line survey of Exmoor farmers, telephone interviews and a stakeholder workshop.

The project was completed by the end of March 2015 and the findings of the study were presented at a feedback meeting in Exford on 2 June, organised by the Exmoor Hill Farming Network. Professor Dwyer, Nick Lewis and Jonnie Felton attended the meeting from the CCRI.

The findings look at how and why Exmoor farming has changed over the past ten years, and highlight key trends and concerns for the future, with recommendations for the EHFN, the National Park and Defra. Profitability, TB impacts and environmental schemes featured high on the list of ongoing challenges, but there were also positive signs, including evidence of a younger generation keen to farm in and around Exmoor.

The findings of the study on the state of farming on Exmoor were presented on 2 June 2015

This research report was mentioned in the House of Commons on 1 June 2015. A debate was brought to the House by Ian Liddell-Grainger, Conservative MP for Bridgwater and West Somerset, who raised concerns regarding the various difficulties facing hill farmers today. The vulnerability of hill farmers to economic fluctuations was raised and also complexity of the various subsidy schemes. One of the key findings of the CCRI report which was highlighted was the conclusion that subsidies had not kept pace with the growing list of environmental responsibilities. Mr Liddell-Grainger stated that we can’t expect our farmers to be ‘full-time guardians of the countryside for nothing’. He commended the CCRI report to the house and said that the Exmoor Hill Farming Network, for whom the report was produced, “is an excellent organization”.