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National Park Addresses Farming Succession Crisis with New Farm-Based Training Scheme

northumberland national park


Hill farmers and keen farming trainees are being sought for a new farm-based training scheme starting in Northumberland National Park.

The Upland Farming Traineeship has been developed by the National Park Authority in conjunction with Newcastle College in response to local demand to keep traditional upland livestock farming skills in the countryside.

Most hill farms these days can no longer justify more than one worker – the farmer himself, so it is almost impossible to gain or pass on experience.  Even for those farmers who can provide some work and skills training, it is limited to their own farm and not as happened years ago when much work was done cooperatively between farms. The average age of upland farmers is now in the mid- to late fifties and, with many children of farming families opting for alternative careers, only one in seven farmers have a planned succession for their farm.

There is a crisis in upland farming, says Derek Proudlock, Southern Operations Manager of the National Park Authority. The impact of an aging farming population and an exodus of young people from upland agriculture on rural communities and the Northumberland countryside as we know it would be immense.

Instead of thriving communities and the wide horizons and well-maintained scenery that characterizes the National Park; we would see broken boundaries and rural dilapidation alongside dormitory villages. he said.

To address the crisis, the National Park Authority is calling for volunteer farmers and keen trainees to join the new educational scheme.

The Upland Farming Traineeship unique learning opportunity for up to eight people aged 16+, this method of practical training has had several years of trial and success on Dartmoor.  Trainees will benefit from hands-on, farm-based development backed by certified sessions to gain a formal diploma from Northumberland College, useful in any location.

A wide range of techniques including animal husbandry and livestock marketing, farm management, wildlife habitat management and landscape conservation will be learned, plus related skills such as tractor driving,  ATV, welding and safety.

Trainees will be employed by the National Park during their traineeship and paid the national minimum wage for their age group.

Farmers a chance to pass on traditional skills

For the farmer, the National Park Authority is offering the benefit of the chance to pass valuable traditional skills and experience on to another generation.  Initially trainees will need support but as they grow in confidence they will begin to make a useful contribution to the operation of the farm. Trainees will gain valuable experience by doing practical work on several farms with different farmers in rotation, sharing ideas and methods between farms.

Interested farmers and prospective trainees of 16+ from any background should contact Kevin Malone on Tel: 07766881647 or e-mail

Northumberland National Park One of Britains Breathing Spaces

Northumberland National Park cares for the landscape and cultural heritage of 405 square miles (105,000 hectares) – over a fifth of Northumberland from Hadrians Wall to the Scottish border. A regional treasure for the North East, some six million people live within an hours drive of our wide open and sparsely populated upland spaces.

Our work includes protecting the landscape from inappropriate development and maintaining the infrastructure that helps people to have access to the countryside. We conserve natural and historical features that are tourism assets to the local and regional economy; support the local community and businesses with advice, expertise and grant funding, and help to promote the area to visitors.  In all these endeavours we put the interests of the community first.

For more about us youll find a wealth of information on our website at:

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