CUMBRIAN farmers are being offered a helping hand to decipher new rules and regulations as they move away from EU Common Agricultural policies.

Adam Day, Managing Director of the Farmer Network says “The huge array of new rules and schemes is mind-boggling. Imagine doing a full day on the farm then having to sit down to read and digest a 165-page explanatory document on the new Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI).That’s where we are able to help”.

One example among many is the partnership between the Farmer Network and the Fellfoot Forward Landscape Partnership programme on the East Fellside of Cumbria with support from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

At a recent farmer meeting topics included Farm Renewables, Conservation Grants, Farming in Protected Landscapes, Facilitation Group support and an SFI update. “Local farmers were able to talk to representatives from Energy Northwest, Cumbria Action for Sustainability, and the North Pennines AONB team. Their Farming in Protected Landscapes team is encouraging applications from farmers right now, while Eden Rivers Trust promoted the Fellside Facilitation Fund group, encouraging farmers to get involved in meetings on all things Stewardship,” said Adam.

Louise Maguire from DEFRA gave an update on the options available under the SFI and took questions and feedback, especially from the farmers who are already in Higher Level Scheme rollovers who can’t take up most of the SFI options.

The Farmer Network's Kate Gascoyne will continue working with farmers in the Fellfoot area who are completing their Fellfoot Forward (Wild Connections) Conservation Grant planting this winter. She is also working with the Partnership, farm advisors, and The Federation of Cumbria Commoners on a research project looking at farmer’s opportunities and barriers to providing habitat and management for nature in the Natural England East of Eden Nature Recovery project area.

Kate says “It is clear that these government funded opportunities are heavily focussed on conservation and the natural environment and this needs to be balanced and in tune with the farm production business. That is why we are keen to support the farming community to understand the funding, apply for it and use to compliment the farm business”.