Upland Farms

sheepOur small, rural farms are vanishing. Two-thirds of our farming families have gone in the last few decades. As they disappear, the basic structure of rural life is broken: farm-houses become expensive homes in empty valleys, our small, village schools are forced to close, and services are increasingly centralised in our nearby towns. Without support, the character, culture, and history of our rural areas will be lost forever. This is why I have put so much energy into working with our farming communities who are under extraordinary pressure from a dozen directions; be it new environmental regulations, high fuel costs, or the vast, powerful forces of our supermarkets. Living rural communities need to be seen as part of what makes for everyone’s British identity – farms are not only mechanisms to maximise profit, but bearers of culture; a legacy of more than a thousand years of cultivation.

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Rory, Secretary of the APPG on Hill-Farming, has welcomed the announcement from DEFRA that all 1,600 Higher Level Stewardship (HLS) schemes will be renewed, citing this “a real triumph and a relief for our uplands farmers”. He has also requested that DEFRA produce an overall strategy statement on the future of the uplands. Speaking after […]


Rory raised the exceptional and devastating circumstances facing Cumbrian sheep farmers in a debate in parliament on Tuesday, 23 April. He drew attention not just to the ccccrecent heavy snowfall, but the many months of terrible weather conditions that preceded this. He particularly drew attention to the problems in the Bailey and Bewcastle valleys in the North […]

Eden Valley and the North Pennines


It is August 1805, two friends have risen early, on a cold Cumbrian morning, to climb Striding edge to Helvellyn. The previous night, they are recognised in the inn, but they have fun pretending not to be who they are. They are well-educated, have travelled abroad, and have lived in great capital cities. But their […]

22-10-2013 10-44-00

Rory Speaks on Rural Communities

Transcript There is the possibility that those on the Front Bench will have a weary cynicism about this debate—a feeling that statistics are being thrown around, that special pleading is going on, names of councils being showered down on them, and figures of 50% or 2% and different definitions and so on being mentioned, but […]


Rory Teams up with Tim Farron MP to Address Understocking of Fellsides

This morning, Cumbrian MPs Rory and Tim, as representatives of the Hill Farming APPG, met with Chair of Natural England, Poul Christensen, to discuss Natural England’s work within the uplands and the future of support for hill farmers. At the meeting Rory and Tim congratulated Natural England for its recent change in attitude towards the […]


Rory welcomes RPA’s improved benefits payment system to farmers

Rory Stewart has applauded the work of the government in improving the efficiency and rate of payments to farmers through the Rural Payments Agency (RPA). “The RPA delivers over 2 billion pounds in direct Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) payments to farmers annually,” Rory Stewart said today.  “Over the last few years delivery of these payments was […]


uplands advisory group

Rory has established and held an inaugural meeting of an ‘uplands advisory group’ to ensure the concerns of Cumbrian hill farmers are heard in Westminster. The group will serve as a sounding board and policy guide to the local MP, who has already established Young Farmers’ and Dairy advisory groups. The meeting, chaired by Mervyn […]


keep sheep on the fells

  Penrith and the Border – the constituency in England with the largest percentage of uplands land – is pressing the governments to increase limits on sheep numbers on the fells. Rory believes that recent environmental measures – designed to protect hillsides from damage by sheep – have become “excessive” and is campaigning to relax […]


national trust policy on hill farms

Rory has met with the National Trust’s Regional Director for the NW, John Darlington, at Temple Sowerby’s Acorn Bank to discuss the Trust’s policy on uplands hill-farming, its hopes to increase its community and youth focus, and other local initatives such as the creation of local rangers and improved access to local walking routes. Rory said: “As owners of […]


eu reaction to sheep tagging

Rory has expressed his dismay that the European Commission has responded negatively to a request for tolerance on EID tagging. DEFRA has dent a formal request to the EU to ask for more tolerance, particularly in relation to hill farmers. Rory said: “It is simply out of the question to expect our farmers to be […]