Study to help hill farmers

A study to research sustainable options that could help secure the future of Britain's hill farmers has won a coveted Nuffield Farming Scholarship for a South Yorkshire land restoration expert.

A study to research sustainable options which could help secure the future of Britain's hill farmers has won a coveted Nuffield Farming Scholarship for a South Yorkshire land restoration expert.

Nuffield Farming Scholarships are prestigious awards recognised around the globe. They promote leadership and the implementation of innovative agricultural practices through worldwide study.

The scholarship awarded to Chloe Palmer, Northern & West Midlands regional director for the Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group, is sponsored by the Yorkshire Agricultural Society. The Society, best known as the organiser of the Great Yorkshire Show, works year-round to promote and sustain the agricultural community in the North of England.

The study will see Palmer, who is based in the Hope Valley, near Sheffield and the Peak District, travelling to Bulgaria, France and Switzerland over the next 18 months as part of her studies. She will also undertake a number of visits around the UK and Ireland before presenting a report to the Trust's annual conference in November 2009.

Nigel Pulling, the Society's chief executive, said Palmer was a worthy recipient. "The challenges faced by the farming industry seem to grow constantly. Chloe's research will prove extremely valuable in identifying potential solutions to the problems our farmers have to deal with, and the Society is delighted to support her."

"Hill farming in the UK is under greater pressure than ever before," said Palmer. "I'm very concerned about the future of upland farming - so many factors work against it, such as the low prices paid for animals and increasing environmental regulations.

"I decided I would like to know more about how other countries address these issues, whether what they do could work for us. It will also be nice to get back to why I came into the job in the first place - I don't get the chance to be really 'hands-on' these days."

She added: "I'm really grateful to the Yorkshire Agricultural Society for sponsoring me - without this support, it wouldn't have happened. It is a fantastic opportunity, and I'm very much looking forward to it."

Palmer's work begins with researching the support currently available to hill farmers in the UK. She will visit Ireland in June, and plans to travel to Bulgaria in the autumn. Visits to France and Switzerland are scheduled for next summer.

"Bulgaria will be a very interesting case study, given the market changes and farming developments they have seen there. I'm very much looking forward to it all."

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