18th June 2021


Rural Rap

NUMBERS OF SEASONAL WORKERS ARE DOWN DRAMATICALLY, reports the Kent Messenger, Farming UK and Farmers Weekly.  Numbers of seasonal workers applying to work at one Kent-based company are down 90% in the last two years and there are fears for the future.  Stephen Taylor, MD at Winterwood Farms Ltd, said the labour market has got “tighter and tighter” over the last couple of years and blamed the trend on Brexit.  The Chairman of British Summer Fruits said the soft fruit industry faces decreasing numbers of seasonal workers but added that “despite Brexit and restrictions on he free movement of workers, the industry has generally been able to recruit a large enough workforce for the current soft fruit season…we are confident that strawberries won’t be left in fields unpicked in fields.”

REVOLUTIONARY DESIGNS FOR A “WORLD-CLASS WINERY” IN KENT HAVE BEEN UNVEILED, reports the Kent Messenger.  Vineyard Farms proposes to build a wine making and bottling facility, dubbed The Kentish Wine Vault, to the south of Upper Bush in Cuxton.  The plans have been drawn up by the award winning architect Lord Norman Foster, famed for London’s The Gherkin and the Wembley Arch.  The company behind the scheme plans to make between 1 and 5 million bottles of wine per year from the largely underground production facility.  Vineyard Farms is now launching a public consultation on the proposals, ahead of submitting its formal planning application in the coming months.

MORRISONS IS BRINGING BACK TRADITIONAL GLASS MILK BOTTLES TO ITS SEVEN KENT STORES, reports Kent Online.  The supermarket chain is reverting to the traditional packaging as part of a trial to find ways to help both supermarkets and customers to cut plastic waste.  Milk will be sourced directly from local farmers, with the aim of taking out of circulation around 40,000 plastic milk cartons each year.  The pints will cost 90p each, as opposed to just 50p in a plastic carton.  The scheme is being piloted in Sheffield and Kent, but the supermarket is hopeful it will be able to roll it out across the country in due course.

THE UK AND AUSTRALIA HAVE REACHED A TRADE AGREEMENT WHICH INCLUDE A 15-YEAR CAP ON TARIFF-FREE IMPORTS, reports Farming UK, among others.  The deal has triggered concerns from farmers over lower-standard imports.  The main elements of the free trade deal were agreed on Monday and it marks the first major trade deal negotiated by the UK since it left the EU.  A final “agreement in principle” will be published soon, enabling parliament to scrutinise it in detail.  The move will enable British products to be sold into Australia, and eliminates tariffs on Australian imports such as wine.  Numerous groups have said that any imports must be produced under the same rigorous production and animal welfare standards that UK farmers have to adhere to.

THE LORDS HAVE STRESSED THAT BRITAIN’S AGRICULTURAL STANDARDS MUST NOT BE UNDERMINED AS A RESULT OF THE UK/AUSTRALIA TRADE DEAL, reports Farming UK.  The International Agreements Committee has called on the government to provide clarity on the talks on trade in agri goods.  In a letter, the committee seeks answers to specific concerns, and also wishes to know the extent of Australian agri production methods, including animal welfare standards, and how different they are to British farmers’ standards.

FARMERS ARE ASKED TO DONATE SURPLUS FRESH PRODUCE TO CHARITY SO IT CAN BE USED BY FOOD BANKS, reports Farmers Weekly.  Amazon has teamed up with the NFU and has launched the scheme in the Midlands.  Farmers in the Midlands can call their NFU regional office to arrange for surplus eggs, fruit and vegetables to be collected by Amazon’s fleet of vans and delivered to food banks in towns and cities.  While the project is currently restricted to farmers in the East and West Midlands, if successful it could be rolled out more widely.

AN URGENT REVIEW OF ABATTOIR CAPACITY IS NEEDED IN THE LIGHT OF NEW RULES ON TRAVEL TIMES, reports Farmers Weekly and Farming UK.  Fears that livestock farmers will struggle to meet new rules on travel times are due to an absence of local slaughtering facilities.  Government policy has led to a steady decline in the network of small and medium-sized multi-species abattoirs, said the NSA.  Yet the government is now seeking to reduce livestock travel times from the current maximum of eight hours and ban live exports.  One third of small abattoirs have closed in the past 10 years alone, with jus 62 remaining.  This means livestock may have to be transported for longer distances.  For some farmers in the south east, the closest facility is in France.


Farmers in the Darent Valley are seeking a FARMER CLUSTER OFFICER to help steer them through a changing agricultural and environmental landscape. The new position will convene meetings, coordinate action across multiple farms and help develop local priorities in line with the needs of the farmers and for a thriving Darent river. This is an exciting opportunity to work at the forefront of a new chapter in agriculture and conservation.

The post is hosted jointly by the Kent Wildlife Trust and the Kent Downs AONB unit, to ensure an integrated approach.  For further information, and to apply: kentwildlifetrust.org.uk/jobs/farmer-cluster-officer-darent-valley

Closing date: Friday 25th June


RABI, Addington Fund, FCN, Forage Aid and RSABI, supported by the Prince’s Countryside Fund, have launched the Farming Help initiative.  The initiative is also being launched with the NFYFC, the NFU and the NFU Mutual Charitable Trust. 
FARMING HELP recognises that this will be an anxious time for many farmers and farming families and periods of poor health or self-isolation may result in temporary practical difficulties on farm.  For help drafting a contingency plan, for practical local help with livestock, shopping etc, or to discuss your concerns and anxieties,

Contact 03000 111 999 or visit www.farminghelp.co.uk

To receive the Rural Rap direct to your inbox please contact info@ruralplc.com