MPs HAVE VOTED AGAINST PUTTING A LEGAL DUTY ON WATER FIRMS TO STOP POURING RAW SEWAGE INTO RIVERS AND SEAS, reports the Kent Messenger. While this has proved controversial with campaigners, resulting in protests in Whitstable and Margate, ministers have defended the move. Under the current rules, sewage can be pumped into rivers and seas through overflows – this is to prevent sewage backing up into homes and buildings following heavy rainfall. However, last year raw sewage was discharged into coastal waters around England over 400,000 times and critics believe that water firms such as Southern Water are using it as a cost-saving measure. Southern Water was slapped with a record £90m fine in July but the issue has persisted. However, the government pointed to the astronomical cost of reforming the nation’s waste water system as one of the key reasons behind the vote – it would cost between £150bn and £660bn to update the country’s Victorian sewage system.
PLANS TO HELP LEVEL UP THE COUNTRYSIDE HAVE BEEN IGNORED IN THE BUDGET, argues the CLA. There was a lack of detail on how the government aims to unleash the potential of the rural economy – a missed opportunity for the countryside, claims the rural group. The CLA said that “the budget shows government has now plan to create prosperity in rural areas…the rural economy is 18% less productive than the national average, largely due to poor infrastructure, poor skills provision and an outdated planning regime.”
THE AUTUMN BUDGET OFFERED FEW SPECIFIC MEASURES TO HELP THE FARMING INDUSTRY THROUGH THE TOUGHEST CHALLENGES IT HAS FACED FOR DECADES, reports Farming UK. Despite facing huge pressures as the BPS is phased out, agriculture missed out on specific measures. That said, there were some announcements that may help out certain sectors: the extension to the Annual Investment Allowance; 50% business rate discount for retail, hospitality and leisure may help farm diversification; the Green Investment Relief; and the reduction / removal of duty on some beer and sparkling wine.
THE RPA HAS PUBLISHED THE BPS ENTITLEMENT RATES FOR 2021, reports Farming UK. The 2021 payment rates are: Non-SA £233.30/ha; SDA £231.60/ha; Moorland £64.00/ha. However, as 2021 is the first year in which the phased reductions in BPS take effect, farmers will receive less than the published rate.
A NEW £17.5M FUND TO SUPPORT FARMERS TO EMBRACE INNOVATION AND AGRI-TECH HAS BEEN LAUNCHED, reports Farming UK. The Farming Innovation Programme will support on-farm projects to boost productivity and environmental sustainability whilst driving the sector towards net zero. For the initial round, in which £17.5m is available, farmers can bid for funding to develop new technologies and practices, such as artificial intelligence, low-emission machineries and climate-resilient crops.
THE SECOND HIGHEST EVER RATE OF INFLATION FOR THE FARMING INDUSTRY HAS BEEN RECORDED, reports Farming UK. The cost of farming inputs has increased by an eye-watering 21.86% during the 12 months to end of September. Five out of nine input classes saw double digit inflation with fuel and fertiliser seeing unprecedented increases at 79.9% and 51.2% respectively. Meanwhile the total food RPI has experienced deflation of -0.7% over the same period, highlighting the ongoing margin squeeze for farmers.
Applications are now open for the Farming in Protected Landscapes programme (link)
The three year scheme aims to fund outcomes for People, Place, Climate and Nature in the Kent Downs. It is possible to apply for more than one year. Applications can range from £250k, to no miminum. Funding can be up to 100%, but value for money is part of the assessment criteria.
Applicants will be supported to carry out projects that:
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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