Agriculture and food production accounts for 13% of the county’s economy, compared to 7.6% nationally. The sector is directly reliant on soils, water, pollinators, predator control and other services provided by healthy natural environmental systems.
Our agricultural sector faces huge challenges. The complex and ever changing landscape of regulations, markets, funding and policy needs to interact in a way that makes economic and environmental sense and is understandable and deliverable. Decisions need to be underpinned by the best available research and evidence.
Guidance and support
- Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group South West (FWAG)
- West Country Rivers Trust (WCRT)
- RSPB – The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds offer support and advice for farming with wildlife, including support from a local adviser.
- Devon Wildlife Trust
- SWARM Knowledge Hub – This web resource provides unbiased information on how to make management decisions based on natural resources.
- Championing the Farmed Environment – This is a partnership of agricultural, environmental and governmental bodies working together to promote good environmental management through productive farming practices. They have a range of guidance documents on their website.
- Linking Environment and Farming (LEAF)
Devon farming initiatives and networks
- Dartmoor Hill Farm Project
- The Blackdown Hills Rough Grazing Association provides a network for owners, managers and anyone interested in rough, wildlife rich grazing land.
- Ruby country net-zero beef farming forum – How can beef farming, a sector so intrinsic to the Ruby Country that it gives it its name, make the move to net-zero whilst continuing to be economically viable? If you are a beef farmer, work in the beef farming sector/supply chain, or if you are a beef farming stakeholder and if you live and/or work in the Ruby Country, you have the opportunity to join this forum and shape the answers to this question.
- Food, Farming and Countryside Commission – This charity is bringing people together to find radical & practical ways to improve our climate, nature, health and economy. They have a current enquiry in Devon which is looking at relocalising the food system and engaging more young people in farming.
- Hedge fund report – CPRE, alongside the Organic Research Centre, have recently released a hedge fund report, finding that boosting hedgerows by 40% would create 25,000 jobs. The executive summary and a press release are available to read to see how, for every £1 invested in hedgerows, as much as £3.92 is generated for the wider economy.
- Facilitation Fund / Farm clusters
- Devon Local Food Partnership
- Two Moors Butterfly Project
- Dartmoor Farming Futures is an experimental pilot project aimed at developing a new approach to the management of the public and environmental benefits associated with Dartmoor’s moorland.
North Devon Nature Improvement Area
- Championing the Farmed Environment
- North Devon Biosphere diffuse pollution / natural flood management work.
- Devon and Cornwall Soils Alliance – This project, organised by The West Country Rivers Trust looks at building capacity and capability across soils in Devon. They are now running seven feasibility studies to demonstrate a protocol for the assessment of soil health in any of the soil types in Devon and Cornwall.
- British Society of Soil Science – This organisation is committed to the study of soil and the application of findings to improve soil health. They provide videos, resources and expert advice to help you understand your soil better.
- High Nature Value Farming in Devon – Four case studies from across Devon show the features, management and obstacles to farming in areas of high nature value.
- Clinton Devon Estates has a mix of in hand, shared and tenanted farms across its land. The Estate engages with all those responsible for land management to encourage entry into agri-environment schemes. They are working to promote agriculture that supports sustainable use of resources whilst delivering ecosystem benefits.
- Pipers Farm produces meat in a more sustainable way and creates links between ethical producers and consumers. They adopt techniques such as regenerative farming, using native breeds, plastic free packaging and encouraging a reduced consumption of meat.
- Common Agricultural Policy reform: implementation in England, 2013
- Foresight, The Future of Food and Farming. Final Project Report, The Government Office for Science, London, 2011
- Sustainable Intensification Research Platform, Working paper