Issues Facing Cumbria's Upland Farmers

Save the Upland Farmers: Our Livelihoods, Not Rewilding, Must Come First

The Issue:

Being closely acquainted with the agricultural sector, I am acutely aware of the struggles our farmers endure on a daily basis. The frustration is palpable, not only amongst the farmers themselves but also within the wider community who recognise the critical role these individuals play in sustaining our rural way of life. We should be bolstering their efforts and facilitating their success, not stifling them with an overabundance of environmental ‘green’ tape. Alarmingly, a considerable proportion of the meat sold in our supermarkets is still sourced from overseas, with imports accounting for one-third of lamb and 35% of beef. This number is set to rise with the new deal made with Australian meat imports. The necessity for British farmers and British meat to be prominently featured in all supermarkets and local shops cannot be overstated. It is imperative that we support our domestic agriculture and ensure that British produce is not just an option, but a mainstay on supermarket and shop shelves across the country, especially now, with global conflicts and many other factors that come with these conflicts that constantly threaten our food supply.These hardworking individuals are a cornerstone of our rural heritage, yet they’re facing extinction due to ill-conceived environmental policies.

The Challenge:

The shift towards rewilding, bolstered by generous grants, is threatening the very fabric of upland farming. The push to return vast swathes of farmland to their ‘natural’ state is not just impractical; it’s an affront to the families who’ve stewarded this land for centuries. The current disregard for the livelihoods of these farmers is unacceptable, and the long-term damage to our rural communities and economy could be irreversible.

We must act now to:

Prioritize Farmers: Challenge the current narrative that rewilding is the only path to environmental stewardship. Upland farmers are the true custodians of our landscape, and their survival must be a priority.

Sustainable Solutions: Advocate for environmental solutions that include and benefit upland farmers, rather than exclude and penalize them. Conservation must work hand-in-hand with agriculture, not against it.

Rethink Funding: Reassess how environmental grants are allocated and fight for a fair distribution that supports, rather than undermines, the continuation of traditional farming.

I refuse to stand by while our upland farmers are sacrificed on the altar of rewilding. It’s time to put an end to the excessive expenditure on rewilding projects that fail to account for the human cost. Join me in defending the rights and livelihoods of our upland farmers – the very stewards of the Lake District’s beauty and biodiversity.



  • Community Support: Build a strong sense of community around upland farming, encouraging local people to support their farmers through community-supported agriculture schemes or local purchasing initiatives.
  • Tailored Financial Support: Review and adjust financial subsidies and stewardship payments to ensure they reflect the true costs and income lost from reduced livestock numbers and other environmental constraints. Ensure that any environmental schemes provide a fair and stable income that reflects the value of upland farming to both the economy and the environment.
  • Flexible Environmental Schemes: Develop environmental schemes that are flexible and take into account the unique challenges of upland farming, allowing for variances in stocking levels based on local conditions and the expertise of the farmers.
  • Market Access and Promotion: Help upland farmers access new markets and promote their products, emphasising the quality and heritage of upland farm goods like Herdwick lamb.