19th February 2021


Rural Rap

THE ENVIRONMENT AGENCY HAS JOINED OPPONENTS TO A MULTI-MILLION POUND FREE RANGE EGG DEVELOPMENT PLANNED BY FRIDAYS, reports the Kent Messenger and Farming UK.  Family firm Fridays wants to extend its free range egg production in Chainhurst, near Marden, but the agency is opposing the £9m scheme to build three chicken sheds for 192,000 birds.  The Environment Agency is opposing because it would have a “significant impact on the river-floodplain habitat corridor” and would hinder the restoration plan for an area of SSI.  A spokesman for the firm said it welcomed the agency’s feedback and it would provide a “very helpful roadmap for us to address the issues it has raised.”

WILL OAKES IS THE NEW KENT CHAIRMAN OF THE GWCT.  At the start of the year, Paul Kelsey stepped down as Chairman of the Kent GWCT Committee after 5 years in the role, and Will Oakes will succeed him.  Paul Kelsey will remain a “crucial part” of the committee.

THE GWCT HAS ALSO EXTENDED ITS BIG FARMLAND BIRD COUNT BY A WEEK, reports Farming UK.  The extension is due to the heavy snow and freezing conditions which have hampered farmers’ efforts to participate.  The event was due to run from 5-14 February, but participants can now carry out the count until Sunday 21 February.

HORTICULTURE AHDB LEVY PAYERS HAVE VOTED AGAINST THE LEVY, reports Farmers Weekly and the Farmers Guardian.  A ballot was triggered last October when over 5% of the AHDB’s 1,400 horticulture levy payers made a request for one.  More than two-thirds of those eligible cast a vote and, of those, 61% rejected the continuation of the levy.  The results have been sent to Defra and the devolved administrations to consider, though they are not bound by the ballot’s findings.  The results have triggered a mixed reaction from farmers, with many claiming that the result shows levy payers’ lack of faith in the AHDB’s ability to deliver, but others hope that views can be changed and tweaks made to appease those who voted against.


EXTENDED: BIG FARMLAND BIRD COUNT: 5-21st February.  To take part, spend 30 minutes recording the species and number of birds seen on one particular area of your farm.  Somewhere with a good view of around 2ha is ideal.  bfbc.org.uk/take-part/how-to-take-part/


FARMING IN PROTECTED LANDSCAPES WORKSHOPS:  3rd March at 5pm; 9th March at 2pm; 11h March at 5pm.  See below box for full details.
To book on go to  eventbrite.co.uk/e/farming-in-the-kent-downs-aonb-opportunities-for-the-future-tickets-1414791429


This year BPS payments will start to be phased out in the lead up to Environmental Land Management (E.L.M.). One of the best ways to keep payments coming in and ensure you’re ready for E.L.M. is to apply for the Countryside Stewardship (CS) Scheme. Also, from April 2021-2024, a new Farming in Protected Landscapes scheme will provide financial support to farmers and other land managers in Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and National Parks.

Working with colleagues in the AONB and Natural England, FWAG will be able to provide free support to you through local 1:1 advice and local (online) workshops.

If you farm or manage land in the AONB and are interested in taking part for further details, please reply to Paul Cobb – it would be helpful if you could briefly confirm your areas of interest and providing very brief details of your farm or land management.

We will be running 3 local online workshops to discuss these opportunities with you on: Weds 3rd March at 5pm; Tuesday 9th March at 2 pm and Thursday 11th March at 5pm. To book on go to  https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/farming-in-the-kent-downs-aonb-opportunities-for-the-future-tickets-14147914292


RABI has launched the largest ever research project in England and Wales relating to the wellbeing of farming people.  This wide-ranging survey will consider for the first time the relationship between physical health, mental wellbeing and the health of farm businesses.

Who can take part: farmers, farm workers, their spouses and adult-aged children
When: 11th January to 31st March 2021
Content: the survey will take about 15 minutes to complete and will cover three aspects: your mental health, your physical health, and the health of your farming business.
Availablity Online: rabi.org.uk/BigFarmingSurvey
Available in print: hard copies will be circulated in various farming magazines and via postal farming lists.  Alternatively, email FarmSurvey@exeter.ac.uk

The aim is to get 26,000 questionnaires completed, to give a better understanding of the overall health of our industry, and to help target the available support to where it is most needed.


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

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