Exmoor Farmers Present Post-Brexit Ambitions to Michael Gove


The Rt Hon Michael Gove MP, Secretary of State for Defra, visited Exmoor today to meet with farmers backing a transformative proposal for post-Brexit farming on Exmoor.

Known as ‘Exmoor’s Ambition’, the proposal is a progressive new concept for sustaining and enhancing Exmoor’s farmed landscape and communities after Brexit.

During the visit, the Secretary of State toured two farms championing the proposal, where he met representatives from the Exmoor Hill Farming Network and Exmoor National Park Authority, who have been instrumental in developing the new concept.

Robin Milton, Chair of Exmoor National Park Authority, said: “We have a once-in-a-generation chance to develop a better home-grown policy for world-class landscapes like Exmoor after Brexit. But we need to act now, which is why we’re asking the Secretary of State for the opportunity to trial our scheme and show the UK a different way of farming centred on the many public benefits provided by the countryside. If we get the green light soon, the lessons learned could be applied to other upland areas before Brexit bites.”

The Initiative is Welcomed by Michael Gove

Environment Secretary Michael Gove, said: “I was delighted to meet farmers in Exmoor who share our ambitious and positive outlook on the future for farming.

“The Exmoor Ambition Programme is an excellent example of the appetite for farming differently outside the EU. It also shows how planning ahead for local agri-environment schemes can bring real benefits for the farming community.

“The contributions of Exmoor Ambition and other groups are hugely valuable as we plan new environmental land management schemes to be piloted when we leave the EU.”

Sixth Generation Farmer Creating a Farming Future for Exmoor

The Secretary of State’s programme included a visit to Cloggs Farm, where sixth generation farmer, David Bawden, showed Mr Gove how the new concept could benefit farmers as well as nature, through a system that rewards those using land-management practices that are proven to help conserve and enhance the countryside. It is hoped this will mean more wildflowers, more wildlife, more scenic beauty and even more delicious produce.

David Bawden is just one of the thirty Exmoor farmers who want to trial the new “Good Farming Measures” and “Enhanced Benefits” that the proposal provides, including detailed costings.

Unique Partnership Between Farmers and the Local Community

Dave Knight, Chair of the Exmoor Hill Farming Network, will introduce the Secretary of State to a number of other Exmoor hill farmers who are primed to start work on the trial. He commented: “Normally, farmers are hesitant to make the sort of changes that Exmoor’s Ambition is proposing.  But because this has been a farmer-based approach, backed by the National Park Authority and the local community, we have got a groundswell of local farming support for this initiative.  We cannot wait to get going”.

Turning Exmoor into a Brand and not just a Place

Exmoor’s Ambition has called in a volunteer marketing expert, local resident Robin Wight, President of Engine, a leading communications group. “Exmoor is an amazingly evocative word.  Our plan is to work with Defra to make ‘Exmoor’ the first post Brexit food designation.  This will help achieve, for Exmoor Lamb, Exmoor Beef and other Exmoor foods, premium in the marketplace, doing justice to their outstanding quality.”


Published: 8 June 2018

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