17th January 2020


Rural Rap

FLOORTJE HOETTE HAS BEEN APPOINTED THE NEW MANAGER OF PRODUCED IN KENT, reports the Kent Messenger, among others.  Hoette is the former external relations officer for the Kent Business School at the University of Kent.  She is the permanent replacement for Stephanie Durling who retired in October.  She started the new role this week, hot on the heels of last week’s Kent Business Summit, which she helped to organised.  Annually, the food and drink sector in Kent contributes £2.6bn to the UK’s food and drink industry each year.

BROGDALE IS TO RECEIVE A TREE FROM THE PIP OF ISAAC NEWTON’S APPLE TREE THAT VISITED SPACE WITH TIM PEAKE, reports Brogdale.  The National Fruit Collection, or perhaps now the Inter-Galactic Fruit Collection, is to be one of the recipients of eight young trees from the pips of Isaac Newton’s apple tree that were blasted into space in 2015.  The pips spent six months floating in micro gravity as part of the “pips in space” project.  On their return from space, the pips spent time at the Millennium Seed Bank.  Seedlings began to emerge in May 2017.  The hope is that the trees will continue to mature in their new homes around the country, whilst engaging visitors with their history of Newton, space travel and plant science.

AC GOATHAM IS TO SUPPORT TWO GREAT CYCLE RIDES IN A BID TO GET PEOPLE FITTER AND HEALTHER IN 2020, reports Kent Online.  The Medway-based fruit grower is to sponsor Cycle 4 Heroes, a one-day ride for both serious and recreational cyclists, as well as The Goatham’s Great Kent Cycle Ride, a three day ride covering 200 miles of the beautiful Kent countryside.  Neither, it is emphasised, a races.  The Cycle 4 Heroes ride will take place on 27th June and starts and finishes in Medway.  The Great Kent Cycle Ride is from July 3rd to 5th and starts and finishes at Goatham’s HQ in Hoo.

A DUO ARE ON TRIAL FOR TRYING TO RAKE IN ALMOST £3M IN AN ELABORATE COUNTRYSIDE SCAM, reports the Kent Messenger.  Andrew Wills from Speldhurst, and Robin Turney from Warwickshire, tried to fleece the government for over a year.  The pair allegedly launched numerous fraudulent bids to swindle grant money designed to boost rural economies.  Prosecutor James Thacker argued the gang tried cheating £2.7m of Countryside Productivity Scheme grant money between 2015 and 2017.  The trial in Canterbury continues.

LOCALS, VISITORS AND SAILORS WILL BE ABLE TO DRINK AGAIN FROM THE ARTESIAN WELL AT OARE MARSHES, reports the Kent Wildlife Trust.  The well stopped flowing a year ago and months of investigative work followed to identify the problem and find a solution.  Thanks to KWT and a £10k grant from Swale Borough Council, the natural spring – which reaches 250ft into the earth – the well will be relined.  It was first tapped in the early 1900s by the local Mining Machinery and Improvement Company.  Local sailors are said to drink from the well, and the surrounding marshland and wildlife rely on the spring’s flowing water.

KENT SUPPORTERS OF RABI RAISED £2,481 AT A FARMHOUSE BREAKFAST, reports R.A.B.I.  Organised by Sheila Adams, the event at the Poacher & Partridge in Tudeley welcomed 61 guests.  Martial Chaussy and the team served breakfast while trustee Sue Lister gave a talk about the charity’s work in 2019.  The Kent committee has many more breakfasts lined up for the coming months and would welcome any newcomers to join them.  Guests are a real mix, including retired farmers and industry professionals.  The next breakfast will be at Greenfields Shooting Ground in Sturry on 22nd January.

THE GOVERNMENT HAS INTRODUCED THE LONG-AWAITED AGRICULTURE BILL, reports Farming UK and the Telegraph, among others.  The landmark legislation, seen as the most important reform of British farming in decades, was introduced yesterday and looks at how the industry can improve productivity and reward farmers for environmental improvements post-Brexit.  Farmers will have seven years to adjust to the new system.  The Bill lays out how farmers will be rewarded with public money for “public goods” – such as better air, soil and water quality, higher welfare standards, improved access to the countryside or measures to reduce flooding.  The current direct payment subsidy system will be replaced.  The government plans to improve transparency and fairness in the supply chain through R&D investment and agritech, while also strengthening farmers’ negotiating position at the farm gate.  There is also provision for a legal requirement on any future UK government to report to Parliament regularly on food security.  The NFU said that many of the farming industry’s concerns have been acted upon; the CLA has called for clarity on the transition period; the CPRE has applauded the bill for highlighting the importance of soil; and the CLA’s views were echoed by the Soil Association.

FARMERS COULD BE PAID FOR INCREASING THE NUMBER OF WORMS IN THEIR SOIL, reports the Telegraph and the BBC.  The new Agriculture Bill will see famers paid for making positive contributions to the environment in a scheme that replaces the £3bn of subsidies under the EU’s CAP.  The original legislation was dropped last year when the general election was called, and the new version specifically highlights the importance of soil, which is central to improving crop quality and can act as a carbon sink.  Farmers will receive money for protecting or improving soil quality, which could be evidenced by the presence of earthworms.

THE RPA AND DEFRA HAVE LAUNCHED THE EAFRD GROWTH PROGRMME NATIONAL RESERVE FUND TO RUN A NEW ROUND OF NATIONAL CALLS FOR EXPRESSIONS OF INTEREST, reports South East LEP.  The new calls will be in three themes of Business Development, Food Processing and Rural Tourism Infrastructure.  This is a £35m fund to boost rural productivity and create local jobs.  The minimum grant threshold is £20,00, enabling more micro-business to participate.  The deadline for all Expressions of Interest is Sunday 16th February 2020.

THE SMALL ROBOT COMPANY HAS LAUNCHED A NEW EQUITY CROWDFUNDING CAMPAIGN, reports Farming UK.  The UK agri-tech firm is seeking £700k to finance its non-chemical weed zapping robot to field trials, and the manufacture of a fleet of monitoring robots for its commercial weed mapping service.  The company has already secured over £2.5m, including £1.2m from its previous raise and more than £1m in Innovate UK grants.  Almost a third of the funds raised previously came from farmers, demonstrating serious industry support.

THE NATIONAL TRUST HAS UNVEILED ONE OF THE UK’S BIGGEST WOODLAND EXPANSION AND TREE PLANTING PROJECTS, reports Farming UK.  Locking up carbon by maintaining peat bogs, investing in renewable energy and reducing the carbon footprint are among measures announced last week.  Of noteworthy importance is the charity’s plan to plant 20m trees within ten years.  More than 18,000ha of woodland, an area equivalent to 1.5x the size of Manchester, will be planted.  This will lock up 300,000 tonnes of carbon, equivalent to the electricity output of 370,000 homes a year.  The National Trust owns 225,000ha of land in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

WATER ABSTRACTION: New Authorisations Announcement

Extension to application period from 31 Dec 2019 to 30 June 2020

If you are currently abstracting for a previously exempt activity then this applies to you. 

A helpful six month extension has just been announced to the application window for previously exempt abstractions.  This will benefit trickle irrigators, wetland operators and other previously exempt abstracting business.  The New Authorisation regulations came into force on 1 January 2018, meaning that those previously exempt abstractions now require a licence. 

This is the LAST OPPORTUNITY to secure these protected rights for your abstraction and cannot be retrospectively applied after 30 June 2020. 

Apply now at: www.gov.uk/guidance/water-management-abstract-or-impound-water


4th March: Farm Expo
Farm Expo, organised by the Kent Agricultural Society, showcases machinery, supplies and services for the agricultural industry with trade stands, seminars and networking opportunities.  Kent’s standout agricultural event will host major national and international providers of farm machinery and services and will host seminars on the industry’s trending topics.
Trade stands can be booked until 31st January by contacting Meghan Rice-Wilson on meghan@kentshowgroumd.co.uk / 01622 633 057
The Kent Showground, Detling
To register your attendance: http://bit.ly/2LdY4l1

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