Hexham MP Guy Opperman recently visited High Studdon Farm at Sinderhope, to meet with farmers Nick Howard and Robert Phillipson, and RSPB representative Janet Fairclough to talk about the work they are doing to encourage birdlife on their farms whilst producing high quality food, and to talk about the future of agriculture policy. Nick and Robert are both traditional hill farmers, in Higher Level Environmental Stewardship schemes, and both are passionate about the wildlife on their farms, particularly lapwings and curlews. Both are also members of the Northern Hill Farming Panel - a farmer-led group which aims to promote high nature value farming in the uplands of Northern England.
The RSPB works closely with Nick and Robert - and many farmers like them - helping them to give nature a home on the land that they manage and to access the support they need to look after the environment. Guy spent time talking about how the Agriculture Bill can support farmers like Nick and Robert to produce food and care for the environment.
Guy said: “I was delighted to be invited to visit High Studdon Farm and to see first-hand the results of the excellent co-operation between upland farmers and the RSPB in the Allen Valleys. Relationships like this between farmers and environmental organisations prove the point that food production and conservation can go hand in hand in the upland areas of Northumberland”.
Janet Fairclough said: “This Bill was the biggest test to date of the Government’s willingness to meet its environmental rhetoric with clear and determined action and it appears to have delivered on its promises."
Robert Phillipson said: “The Agriculture Bill is important in safeguarding the future of farming by paying farmers for the benefits they provide to the general public resulting from their farming practices. This is particularly important for hill farming which relies heavily on public financial support to continue to keep their businesses viable. Without the hill farmer’s management of this land, creating & safeguarding the habitat vital to endangered species such as lapwing & curlew together with the protection of wild flower meadows in the uplands their future would be even more threatened”.