Big changes are under way following Brexit with the Basic Payment Scheme, and Countryside Stewardship funding which has given farmers support to protect and improve the environment, due to be replaced by a new land management scheme.

And local farmers are having their say to ensure Defra tailors the Environmental Land Management scheme (ELMs) to give them the support they need and recognise the work they do in protecting the local environment and reducing carbon emissions.

Jamie Murray is among those who are holding regular workshops to discuss ELMs and feed back their results to Defra. He met with the then secretary of state for the environment, food and rural affairs Theresa Villiers, earlier this month to discuss the implications of the new system, which is due to be fully up and running by 2027.

The Murray family, who farm Blackface sheep and native breeds like Galloway cattle on top of Hadrian’s Wall at Sewingshields, have had a presence on the hill farm since 1940 and look after 2,000 acres, which include two Sites of Special Scientific Interest, several water captures, peat bogs and footpaths such as the Hadrian’s Wall path and the Pennine Way.

Like many upland farms in the district, they have been in receipt of the Higher Level Stewardship funding which will eventually be phased out by ELMs.

“I think it is going to be quite a bit different to the current scheme where one rule fits all and every farm has to fit within the parameters of the rule book, because every farm has different challenges,” said Jamie. “It is a chance to create a scheme that is better and more adaptable.”

Jamie said the advantages Sewingshields and other farms brought to the environment very much met the aims of the model, ‘public money for public goods.’ As well as the aforementioned public benefits, the farm’s open access area is also rich in archaeology, is an area used by climbers and part of the dark sky park.

And one big issue the family want to counter are headline grabbing stories about farming and global warming, when the land management of farms like Sewingshields were helping to reduce carbon dioxide levels.

“It is getting the message out there,” said Jamie. “We all know how it is benefiting the environment. Hopefully ELMs will recognise what the upland farms do.”

As such, the Murrays are commissioning carbon audits to show scientifically how beneficial their method of farming is for the environment.

“We can market our meat as a carbon negative product which it is, but we do not have the facts and figures to back it up,” he said. “I think farming can do quite a bit more than it already does, but it should not be vilified as much as it is in the national press – demonising produced meat but then importing vegetables from all over the world does not make sense.

“Our meat is produced locally, butchered locally an supplies local food establishments, reducing food miles. Hopefully, these workshops will feed back to Defra and influence them on their policies.”