NPR - MANAGING PROGRESS THROUGH FARMER NETWORKS: EXMOOR HILL FARMING NETWORK, UK
The nature and development of Farming Networks is briefly reviewed giving consideration to their pros and cons. Their role in enabling farmers to deliver wider Ecosystem Security on a landscape scale for public benefit and due reward is proposed. Ecosystem Security includes food, water, energy, carbon capture, landscape maintenance, farm livelihoods, and ultimately the stability of Society. The paper indicates substantial advantages through Farming Networks for improving farm management on each participant holding. The case of the Exmoor Hill Farming Network (EHFN) is considered from its history through its precursor organisation, The Exmoor Hill Farm Project (EHFP), and its subsequent range of activities. These have included significant formation of various Farmer Groups within EHFN. Farmer perceptions of the value of EHFN are reported together with recommendations for future activities. The possible Constitution and practice of EHFN is given brief consideration. The use of Farming Networks in strategic management is advocated for international implementation. It is stressed that such Farming Networks must be voluntarily embraced and run by farmers themselves, rather than imposed by other agencies for their convenience or in any way to erode farmer sovereignty in the management of farming.
Keywords: Farmers, Networks, Groups, Uplands, Management, Information