It was standing room only when over 70 farmers and prospective young farmers gathered at the Fairfield Restaurant at Mitchell’s last week (Thurs 27th February) to hear about the National Trust’s Future Farming Programme, supporting farming in the Lake District.
At the open meeting, which the Trust says will be an annual event, people listened to presentations from the charity’s Lakes Future Farming Programme Manager, Jez Westgarth and Farming Advisor Will Cleasby.
The National Trust has ambitious plans for its 90 working farms, managed in conjunction with its tenants, to deliver a broad range of conservation objectives as well as supporting young people at the beginning of their farming careers. The evening was also the first opportunity for people to hear about Trust farms that are coming to the letting market in 2020.
Will Cleasby, Farming Advisor for the National Trust said: “We have been working with young people for 18 months now and they have been clear about how we can help them. They have stated that they would like earlier notice of farms coming to the market and the opportunity to learn more about how future agricultural support will affect them. This type of evening, with an open question and answer session, put to a panel of experts, is a great opportunity to air concerns and to learn from each other.”
Those attending the meeting were encouraged to sign up for the Trust’s 2020 training programme, after being given an update on 2019 activities to support young people in developing business plans for farm tenancy applications.
The evening finished with a lively questions and answer session with a panel of local experts ably fielding questions about common grazing practices and scrub management, letting dates for farms, sheep grazing numbers in agri-environment schemes, the Trust’s tree planting schemes, and what may or may not constitute ‘public goods’ in future farm support payments.
“Given the popularity of the event, this will be a regular fixture at the start of each year“ said Future Farming Programme Manager Jez Westgarth.
“Having open and constructive conversations with our tenants, future tenants and the wider farming sector is critical for us all. Farmers must be part of the debate about the future of farming in the Lake District and Cumbria and this type of forum allows us all to have open discussions and share experience and knowledge to help us make better decisions,” added Jez.
Anyone who wants to be kept update on National Trust farming events and activities, is asked to email their contact details to [email protected]