20th December 2019


Rural Rap
A FARM NEAR SEVENOAKS IS BEING INVESTIGATED OVER CONCERNS OF COW WELFARE, reports Kent Online.  Questions over the treatment of the animals, who – it is alleged – have been fed inedible hay and denied clean water – were raised last week by Christine Bates and Faye Smith.  The farm owner has denied the allegations made about his treatment of livestock, saying that the cows are fed between two and three-and-a-half tonnes of vegetable feed every day and explained there is a three gallon water tank at the top of the field.  He went on to say that the animals do not require shelter as they live outside all year and their bodies are suited to being outside.  So far, while he has been contacted by Trading Standards, he has not been visited by any other organisation overseeing animal welfare, though the RSPCA says that DEFRA is looking into it.
https://www.kentonline.co.uk/maidstone/news/welfare-probe-after-two-cows-die-218744/A KENT FARMER MAY GO TO JAIL FOR KEEPING ANIMALS IN “APPALLING CONDITIONS,” reports the Kent Messenger.  Tracy Missenden, who farmed near Ashford, admitted more than a dozen charges.  Carcasses of sheep, lambs and cattle were found during an RSPCA inspection, and one sheep found in a state of collapse had to be put down.  Margate magistrates heard they found a lack of animal husbandry so serious it amounted to cruelty.  Kent Trading Standards carried out a series of visits from 2018 to 2019.  Judge Justice Barron said: “the standard of farming here is best described as appalling.”  Sentencing was adjourned to 23 January.

A KENT GROWER SAW A YIELD JUMP OF 1T/HA FROM HIS WINTER WHEAT BY USING A NEW FUNGICIDE, reports Farmers Weekly.  Richard Budd, who farms near Hawkhurst, used the new azole fungicide in the farm-scale trial.  The fungicide kept his wheat greener for longer through July and so out-yielded his farm standard fungicide programme. The new product, Revysol, from BASF, cleaned up spetoria disease that had come through the winter when applied in April.  A further treatment was also applied and the Lili crop gave a yield of almost 15t/ha on his heavy land farm.

NOMINATIONS REMAIN OPEN FOR THE KENT FOOD AWARDS UNTIL 6TH JANUARY, reports Taste of Kent.  If the business is farming, growing, food production or rural business and it cares for Kent’s countryside and its environment, it can be nominated.  The aim of the award is to recognise the hard work that goes into caring for Kent’s countryside and its environment by those working on or caring for the land.  Please note that businesses who have won the award in the last three years are not eligible to reapply, though previous applicants may. For further information, p[lease contact: mail@kentdowns.org.uk  or visit https://www.tasteofkentawards.co.uk/

THE KENT WILDLIFE TRUST ANALYSES THE IMPLICATIONS OF THE CONSERVATIVE GENERAL ELECTION WIN.  In their manifesto, the Conservatives committed to reaching Net Zero by 2050 with investment in clean energy solutions and green infrastructure to reduce carbon emissions and pollution.  They also pledged to plant trees, restore peatland, revamp agricultural subsidies and set legally binding targets for the restoration of nature and biodiversity.  The Trust has written to all Kent MPs, offering support as they get to grips with the environmental challenges that they face.  The Trust demands clear, strong laws to protect, restore and join up wild spaces, to revive our seas and support farmers to contribute to nature’s recovery.

THE COUNTRYSIDE ALLIANCE SEES THE CONSERVATIVE RESULT AS EVIDENCE THAT THE RURAL VOTE COUNTS.  The Alliance believes that the election result will have a profound and lasting impact on the countryside as Britain will now leave the EU and implement post-Brexit agricultural and environmental policy.  In England, the countryside is now completely blue.  This is an indication that Labour’s determination to “treat rural policy as a playground for metropolitan fads and fashions” has turned the countryside against it.  The Alliance now has a huge job ahead in engaging with so many new MPs.

FARM LEADERS AND RURAL ECONOMISTS HAVE WELCOMED THE CLARITY A LANDSLIDE CONSERVATIVE ELECTION VICTORY HAS BROUGHT, reports Farmers Weekly.  The resounding Tory election win has given the government a powerful mandate to implement Brexit at the end of January.  Boris Johnson has insisted that the UK will be able to negotiate a trade deal with the EU by this time next year.  Markets rose strongly in the aftermath of the election result, resulting in a strengthening pound.  This is a double-edged sword for farmers as it has implications for imports and exports.  The NFU notes that the result makes a no deal Brexit “unlikely.”  GSC Grays farm consultants expects the Agriculture Bill to be resurrected, and Knight Frank believes farmers will have to take a more proactive approach to environmental land management.

THE RURAL SECTOR HAS BACKED THE ANNOUNCEMENT IN THE QUEEN’S SPEECH TO SUPPORT SMALL FIRMS BY CUTTING BUSINESS RATES FROM APRIL 2020, reports Farmers Weekly and the Countryside Alliance.  The proposal to increase business rate relief from 33% to 50% will benefit half a million independent businesses, many of whom are located in the countryside.


FCN is a voluntary organisation supporting farmers and their families through difficult times.  With over 400 volunteers across the country, its confidential helpline is open every day from 7am to 11pm. 

The charity is strengthening its local volunteer groups in response to a growing need for support as a result of ever-increasing challenges facing those who work in the sector. 

If you have an understanding of the farming industry, a genuine interest in the wellbeing of those who work in it, and are seeking a rewarding voluntary role, please get in touch. 

FCN KENT is seeking a Group Co-Ornator, a Group Chairperson, and other volunteers.

For further information, please contact:

Mark Thomas, Regional Director (South), at mark@fcn.org.uk or on 07815 082 326

CONSERVATION GRANTS of up to £10,000 now available

The Old Chalk New Downs project is offering grants for capital work proposals that contribute to securing habitat connectivity and improving access across the project area, through the enhancement and management of chalk grassland, hedges and ponds. 

If you have a project idea, please contact William Moreno at: william.moreno@kent.gov.uk, call 03000 410 348, or visit www.oldchalknewdowns.org.uk.


10th January : Kent Business Summit
The Kent Business Summit is the County’s only cross-sector event, bringing together business, local government and academics to discuss sustainable economic growth for Kent.  Hosted by the University of Kent, over 400 delegates are expected to attend.  Speakers are coming from a broad range of institutions including the Bank of England, the National Institute of Economic and Social Research and Generation Share. 
The Sibson Building, Kent Business School, Canterbury
9am to 3.30pm, including lunch and networking drinks
To book, please visit https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/kent-business-summit-2020-tickets-76438263905

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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