Look to the Hills
by Markus Aranko
How the initiative functions
The Peak District Land Management Initiative proposes to try something very radical: scrapping most of the existing financial support. What the participating farmers get from this fresh start is then a single, understandable system, based on what they see as being worth rewarding: maintaining their traditional way of life. Instead of having to struggle with numerous policies, often conflicting with their needs and encouraging unsustainable methods, they receive a few very simple, practically minded payments.
Most of that is in the form of a guaranteed annual payment based on the state of their farm, with each feature having a value depending on its quality. Things like stone walls, outbuildings and meadows give a continuous income that can then feed into maintenance or business. There is also a separate grant scheme for specific cases of extensive restoration work, and another for developing new business initiatives. Thus the only public money that goes to the farmers is what can be reasonably justified as a public good: maintaining the rural landscape and way of life.
Considering the public's negative attitude towards current farming subsidies, this would serve to make farming a valid and applauded profession once again. Younger generations might even be attracted back to a profession that has that integrity restored to it.