THE future of farming on the hills of North Devon and Exmoor is the focus of a new initiative to show the Government what is needed to help the industry.
It comes from an alliance of hill farm supporters which is asking farmers, landowners and managers to answer confidentially a survey about their enterprises to use as evidence in talks with ministers.
The initiative is led by the South West Uplands Federation, backed by Exmoor National Park and the Exmoor Hill Farm Project.
John Waldon, from the federation, said: "The results will be analysed and a report provided, by the end of the year, in time to influence the Government. Without this information our efforts will lack the evidence we need.
"In 2007, the federation produced a report on hill farming that played a critical role in demonstrating the importance of hill farming in protecting our landscapes, and an update is vital.
"A high response rate will demonstrate to the Government and its agencies that hill farmers do care about their future and seek a better deal.
"If you receive a copy of the survey please take a few moments to complete it."
The head of conservation and access at Exmoor National Park, Sarah Bryan, said: "The last survey showed a continuing decline in livestock grazing on Exmoor. We are concerned about the low numbers grazing on our moorlands and hope that this survey will help to provide more detailed evidence about this trend."
The federation is a farmer-led alliance of hill farmers and representatives from statutory bodies to provide a voice for hill farmers from Bodmin Moor, Dartmoor and Exmoor.
It has previously surveyed hill farmers and commissioned research into the economics of upland farming, submitted comments on the future of the Hill Farm Allowance and engaged with Defra/Natural England during the development of Uplands Entry Level Stewardship.