AgriChatUK - "What future for Upland farms?" discussion 21/03/13

The aim of AgriChatUK is to give everyone involved in agriculture a place to share ideas, discuss pressing rural issues, debate hot topics and connect with people in the industry who may not otherwisebe easily accessible.

It is a weekly 2 hour Q&A discussion session held every Thursday evening between 8-10pm on Twitter.

The discussion held on Thursday 21st March 2013 looked at the topic of “What future for Upland farms?” and generated a total of 737 tweets on the topic from 106 participants. These included farmers, agri-food businesses, rural advisors, land agents, lawyers, journalists, academics and NFU officeholders, as well as members of the general public.

The questions discussed included:

Q1 What makes farming in the uplands different? Does upland farming need its
own separate ‘policy’ from UK governments?

Q2 What might improving food security mean for our hills?

Q3a How vital is it to keep livestock on the hills? What are the downsides of lower
livestock numbers?

Q3b Will hardy native cattle e.g. Galloway, or original Angus, replace continental
breeds in the hills? And re: sheep?

Q4 What do you think is the single biggest difficulty faced by hill farms in your
area at the moment? Is there a solution?

Q5a What options for diversification are there in hill farms? Tell us what you’re

Q5b How attractive is organic farming as an option for upland farmers?

Q5c What are the ‘ecosystem services’ opportunities for hill farms e.g. as carbon
stores - how would this deliver £?

Q6 How dependent is lowland farming on the uplands?

Q7a: Is it time to address the difference in £ per hectare CAP payments between
lowland & upland farms, esp. those in SDAs?

Q7b: Is there an argument for re-coupling subsidies in the hills? Is Scotland
leading the way here?

Q7c: How can subsidies/support be better targeted when it comes to the uplands
(e.g. LFASS in Scotland/Glastir in Wales/UELS)?

Q8 What more can be done to help older upland farmers retire from tenanted
farms to allow new entrants in?

Q9 Do you think there is a prosperous future ahead for upland farms? What does
it depend on?

Q10 Complete the following: “The best thing about farming in the hills is …”

For a short version of the discussion click on the link

A full in-depth read through of the discussion can be found here, on the archives page of the AgriChatUK website: