Pennine Prospects Annual Conference Report

Posted: 9.10.09

Pennine Prospects Annual Conference 2010

The third Pennine Prospects Annual Conference, entitled ‘Food and farming in the South Pennines’, took place on 29 September in Uppermill Civic Hall, Saddleworth.

100 delegates from across the South Pennines came to hear thought provoking presentations from a range of high calibre speakers and engage in discussions about the importance of the food agenda for the country.

“Our urban communities need re-connecting to the countryside through initiatives such as Care farming, which has huge social benefits”

The keynote speaker, Sir Donald Curry CBE, FRAgS, Government Advisor on Food and Farming Policy spoke about the key issues of global population growth, the impact of growing affluence on demand for food and climate change. On food production, he expressed the view that sustainability is more complex than simply reducing ‘food miles’ and reducing livestock numbers on the uplands, we would need scientific solutions as well. Public sector procurement (school meals, prisons etc) had an important role to play. Our urban communities need re-connecting to the countryside through initiatives such as Care farming, which has huge social benefits. Looking to the future, the next round of CAP reforms in 2013 will be critical to upland farming. The 2003 reforms further disadvantaged the uplands and we now face the risk of ‘undergrazing’. Payment mechanisms (including environmental stewardship) need simplifying further with better targeting. New energy markets eg. Biofuel, need to be developed and barriers removed between government departments and agencies. Above all, we need a ‘can do’ attitude and better leadership.

Rob Maklin, Head of Agriculture for the National Trust, described the work that the Trust are doing to promote the use of local food from their own estate of 200,000 ha of farmland, securing higher incomes for their 1500 tenants and supplying their own 150 shops and tearooms. The Trust have operated their Fine Food Award Scheme since 2005 and have been awarded £500 from Defra with work focussed on 30 properties.

Peter Allen, Northwest Regional Development Agency rural ‘lead’ Board member and Natural England Board member, spoke about the role of agriculture and the food sector in the rural economy, which remain small in terms of gross added value. Neither food nor tourism are the real economic drivers as rural economies have diversified and do not look very different to those of their more urban counterparts (services, manufacturing etc). He said that we need to find ways of creating ‘sticky money’ that remains in the local economy and that the South Pennines are ideally suited to deliver the Rural Development Programme for England through the Leader approach, working across administrative boundaries.

The following speaker, Kelly Armitage, a young farmer from the Holme Valley, spoke about the work of the Young Farmers and the issues facing them in carrying on the tradition of farming in the uplands.

“The South Pennines need more local food programmes like IET – it will inspire other market towns to reinvest in our future and it can help create jobs through tourism and supply chain development”

The final speaker, Pam Warhurst, chair of Pennine Prospects, talked about the importance of local food initiatives as a way of re-connecting people and communities with their immediate landscape. The Incredible Edible Todmorden project, which she helped establish, shows what people can achieve in a short period of time. The South Pennines need more local food programmes like IET – it will inspire other market towns to reinvest in our future and it can help create jobs through tourism and supply chain development.

Afternoon workshops gave delegates the chance to discuss issues in more depth.
Key points

Local food Supply Chains

  • Definition of ‘local’ – 30 mile radius average, but need to be pragmnatic
  • What resources are needed eg organisational support ?
  • Develop networks/co-ops eg. Fair Exchange in Yorkshire
  • Don’t stop at ‘local’ markets, also focus on supplying supermarkets etc
  • Develop a website where producers can sell their produce

Food and Tourism

  • The Pennine Lancashire Festival of Food and Culture provides a model that can be transferred elsewhere.
  • We need to break down administrative barriers and political rivalry !
  • We need to map the key assets that can create/contribute to food/culture clusters

Local food and Community Engagement

  • Share good practice eg.Calderdale Council model for licensing sites
  • Planning process should include a presumption in favour of local food production
  • All markets not just farmers markets) should include local food
  • Keep developing skills/knowledge

Our Upland Futures

  • We need to build a legacy for the future
  • Champion distinctiveness, based upon evidence/monitoring
  • Reinforce importance of landscape and get better at valuing it

The conference ended with a presentation from Ruth Hair, Programme Manager for the Leader Programme, setting out the progress achieved to date and encouraging people to bring forward innovative projects which would leave a legacy for the South Pennines. For further information see the LEADER section on our website.

Yorkshire Water United Utilities Rochdale Metropolitan Borough Council Oldham Metropolitan Borough Council National Farmers Union
South Pennines Association Lancashire County Council Pennine Heritage Kirklees Council Calderdale Council
Bradford District Council Northern Rail Natural England Environment Agency The National Trust