22nd January 2021


Rural Rap

VOTING HAS OPENED FOR THE ANNUAL TASTE OF KENT AWARDS, reports The Kent Messenger.  The awards, organised by Produced in Kent, celebrate the best in food and drink that the county has to offer.  The public from across Kent can help pick the cream of the crop to be honoured in a prestigious awards ceremony.  Following the public vote, there is a judging event in March.  The ceremony is to take place in late spring or early summer, government restrictions permitting.  This year’s awards include a Pink Community Award, dedicated to initiatives undertaken in response to the pandemic.

KENT WILDLIFE TRUST IS TO EXTEND ITS CURRENT SEVENOAKS VISITOR CENTRE AND INTRODUCE GREATER CONSERVATION MEASURES, reports the Kent Wildlife Trust.  The £2m revamp will bring better biodiversity with a long term vision that will see the return of the otter and beaver.  Plans include an enlarged café with lakeside view, increased parking and improvement of access for all.  The Sevenoaks Wildlife Reserve, a former gravel pit turned designated SSI, attracts over 80,000 visitors a year and is home to over 2,000 species including bats, dragonflies, fungi and an array of spectacular birds.

SEASONAL WORKERS COMING TO ENGLAND TO WORK ON FARMS MUST NOW TAKE A COVID TEST 48-72 HOURS BEFORE DEPARTURE DATE, reports Farming UK.  Advice has been updated for seasonal agricultural workers coming to England to pick fruit and veg on farms.  The government closed all travel corridors on Monday and now all travellers, including farm workers, must show proof of a negative Covid test to be allowed entry.  Before workers travel, they should fill in a Passenger Locator Form with their journey, contact details and address at the farm where they will live and work.

CROPS ARE BEING DAMAGED NATIONWIDE BY WALKERS, reports Farming UK.  The public are being urged to wear wellies or walking boots and stick to the footpaths when crossing farmland as crops are being damaged “nationwide.”  There are 50,000 miles of public footpaths in Britain, much of which is maintained by farmers and landowners for the benefit of the public.  But many are reporting increasing damage to crops and wildlife habitats caused by walkers not keeping to footpaths and circumnavigating the mud.

THE HUGELY POPULAR TV SERIES, THIS FARMING LIFE, IS ON THE LOOKOUT FOR NEW FAMILIES, reports Farming UK.  The BBC show takes viewers on a year-round journey through the spectacle that is British farming. It looks at how farming families across the UK cope with everyday tasks and struggles.  Series four of the BAFTA-award winning programme is currently being aired.  The BBC is now seeking farming families who may fit the bill for series five.


CANTERBURY FARMERS CLUB AGM: to be held on Zoom at 19.30 on Tuesday 26th January.  Please ensure you are logged in well in advance by clicking the link below.  For further information, or to submit apologies, please contact info@canterburyfarmersclub.co.uk
Zoom link: zoom.us/j/99600636816?pwd=RVdWR0F6eHRQSS9iaHE2dVFCV2cwdz09
Meeting ID: 996 0063 6816
Passcode: 1793

RSPB GREAT GARDEN BIRDWATCH: 29-31st January.  To take part, spend one hour counting the birds you see in your garden.

BIG FARMLAND BIRD COUNT: 5-14TH 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.


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.


Michael Bax, chair of the Kent Police Rural Crime Advisory Group, received a number of enquiries after lockdown seeking clarification as to how shoots could manage the unsustainable residual number of birds on the ground following the loss of much of the 2020/21 shooting season.  There are a number of considerations:

1. a massive welfare issue
2. disease potential
3. crop damage as birds forage beyond their normal range

Kent Police engaged immediately and are still consulting.  Below is his summary of the advice to date:

– Lockdown guidance indicates that people can leave home and meet in groups for work purposes.  That only applies for paid employment.  Accordingly, culling, pest control or other land management operations appear to be permissable as long as participants follow the “Working Safely During Covid” guidance.

– In summary therefore, the need to control the bird population is understood, but this should be done by paid employment.  It is stressed that it would be against the spirit of the guidance to allow groups to gather to shoot on a voluntary basis, as that could and would be perceived as shooting parties via the backdoor.

– Accordingly, it is for shoots to organise keepers and other paid employees to conduct the necessary management

Beyond that, we all have a legal and moral obligation to stay at home, undertake no unnecessary travel, and control this dreadful disease.


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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