Farmed for thousands of years Exmoor’s hills are studded with the farms that create the landscape’s characteristic mosaic of small fields and hedgerows. As the EU subsidies end the relationship between agriculture and the environment will inevitably alter and the Exmoor Society is at the heart of the debate as to what direction it will take in the National Park. The government’s 25-year plan set some broad parameters that link future farming subsidy to the quality of the environment and our 2018 report, Towards a Register of Exmoor’s Natural Capital, has gone some of the way towards showing how this quality can be valued and then measured by environmental economists. The report shows how Natural Capital – the things nature gives us for free such as soil, water, wildlife, beauty and heritage – can be identified, protected and enhanced.
The Society also worked alongside the Exmoor Hill Farming Network, Exmoor National Park Authority and other groups to produce Exmoor’s Ambition, a template for the structure of future farming subsidies. It suggests that farmers should be offered financial incentives to produce “public goods” – to protect and develop the Natural and also Cultural Capital that have shaped the landscape.