23rd April 2020


Rural Rap

A KENT FARMER HAS BEEN LEFT DEVASTATED AFTER 6,000 PHEASANTS PERISHED IN A FIRE CAUSED BY A GAS HEATER EXPLOSION, reports Farmers Weekly and Farming UK.  The fire began on the farm at Knowle Hill, Ulcombe, on Tuesday.  The blaze was so ferocious that it incinerated two mobile sheds in which the pheasants were housed, leaving nothing but steel frames.  The farm has lost all of its over-winter breeding stock for 2021.  A nearby resident reported hearing three explosions and seeing a fireball hundreds of feet high.  Kent Fire and Rescue confirmed that gas cylinders had exploded early in the fire.

THE GOVERNMENT HAS LAUNCHED A NEW “PICK FOR BRITAIN” CAMPAIGN TO ENTICE THE UK PUBLIC TO WORK ON FARMS OVER THE BUSY HARVEST PERIOD, reports Farming UK.  The website, launched by Defra, seeks to bring workers and employers together as the impact of Covid-19 leaves a diminished agricultural workforce.  From pickers to packers, to plant husbandry and tractor or forklift drivers, there are a wide range of roles available.  It lists recruiters such as individual fruit and veg farms to national recruitment agencies.   farminguk.com/news/defra-launches-pick-for-britain-campaign-amid-labour-shortfall_55477.html

MILLIONS OF BRITS ARE BUYING DIRECT FROM FARMS AS A RESULT OF THE PANDEMIC, reports Farming UK and Farmers Weekly.  The outbreak appears to have changed how the public value food as an essential.  38% say they are now cooking more from scratch, and 33% are throwing away less food.  6% have tried a veg box scheme or ordered food from a farm for the first time.  10% have shared food or shopping with a neighbour for the first time.   The survey also found that 85% want to see some of the personal or social changes they have experienced continue after the pandemic, with just 9% wanting everything back as it was.

MORRISONS HAS ANNOUNCED A SERIES OF MEASURES TO SAY THANK YOU TO BRITISH FARMERS FOR HELPING TO #FEEDTHENATION DURING THE PANDEMIC, reports Farmers Weekly.  The supermarket chain is offering a 5% discount to its 2,700 farmer suppliers when they buy their own groceries.  The initiative aims to support its hardworking farmers and their families and will run until at least mid-July, when it will be reviewed.  The retailer is also to open a summer “BBQ and Steak Bar” in its stores from the end of the month, providing another fillip to farmers and promoting a wider selection of steaks, joints and seafood.  Morrisons has 494 stores serving 12m customers each week.

RED TRACTOR IS TURNING TO LIVE STREAMED AUDITS AS PHYSICAL ASSESSMENTS WERE HALTED LAST MONTH, reports Farmers Weekly.  The food assurance scheme is rolling out the remote regime to enable new applicants to be assessed and current members to retain their assurance status.  An online portal will enable farms to upload their documents and records, and Red Tractor has run a series of pilots using different live-streaming technologies.   https://www.farminguk.com/news/red-tractor-assessors-to-have-virtual-eyes-on-the-farm_55453.html

FARMERS WITH DIVERSIFICATIONS SHOULD CHECK THAT THEY OR THEIR TENANTS ARE RECEIVING BUSINESS RATES RELIEF UNDER GOVERNMENT SUPPORT MEASURES, reports Farmers Weekly.  Farm businesses which were paying rates for retail, leisure and hospitality enterprises should have had their bills zeroed.  The government’s expanded retail discount scheme now encompasses leisure and hospitality venues, and the relief from rate payments has been increased to 100% rather than just a proportional discount.   fwi.co.uk/business/payments-schemes/grants/coronavirus-check-eligibility-for-grants-and-rates-relief

FARMERS HAVE UNTIL MAY TO APPLY FOR GRANTS TO HELP PAY FOR THE RESTORATION OF HEDGES AND STONE WALLS, reports Farming UK.  Farmers – both owner occupiers and tenants – have been recommended to consider making an application to the 2020 Hedgerows and Boundary Grant Scheme.  Hedges and walls are a valuable part of the UK’s heritage, landscape and biodiversity, as well as being important from a management perspective.  The scheme enables the restoration of boundaries with the payments available representing a significant proportion of the actual costs.   farminguk.com/news/hedgerows-and-boundary-grant-scheme-strongly-recommended-_55485.html

RURAL FLY-TIPPING INCIDENTS HAVE SOARED FOLLOWING THE CLOSURE OF COUNCIL TIPS, reports Farmers Weekly.  The Countryside Alliance said incidents have surged by 300% in some areas – with an unacceptable impact on rural communities and the countryside.  Fly tipping is not a victimless crime – it costs private landowners upwards of £47m a year to clear up waste.  Much of it is reported to include household rubbish and DIY materials from people redecorating their homes during the lockdown.  Government ministers are aware of the issue and have recommended that waste and recycling centres remain open.  The NFU is urging all local authorities to take notice of the recommendation.   fwi.co.uk/news/crime/fly-tipping/coronavirus-300-surge-in-rural-fly-tipping-incidents

Pick for Britain!

A Government website aiming to link prospective farm workers with prospective employers.  Growers can now register their vacancies for this year’s harvest.  Please visit: https://pickforbritain.org.uk/ to register your requirements.

Offer of Assistance

A Tenterden-based contact has volunteered his services to any farmer who is short of staff due to the Covid-19 situation.  He has past experience (3-4 seasons) of lambing with Romney ewes having worked on a mixed farm that included 500 head of sheep for 4 years.  He is based near Tenterden but is happy to travel as required, and permitted by ongoing restrictions. 

For contact details, please contact info@ruralplc.com or sophiedproudfoot@gmail.com to be put in touch.


A huge number of military veterans are on the hunt for casual farm labour over the coming months. 

To discuss the possibilities further, please email info@ruralplc.com or sophiedproudfoot@gmail.com in the first instance and we will put you in direct contact with those leading the project.


A NEW APP HAS BEEN LAUNCHED WHICH ENABLES USERS TO REPORT A FULL RANGE OF INFORMATION RELATING TO RURAL CRIME IN KENT.  The Country Eye App was prompted through a project initiated by Peter Rolington and Mike Bax and developed by Ether Creative in Maidstone. The App can be downloaded onto mobile phones free of charge. It enables users to report a full range of information related to rural crime, including fly tipping and has now passed the impressive milestone of 5000 users. Information is reported every day from all over Kent and relayed by Country Eye to Kent Police or other relevant authority. Linked to the report is a facility to photograph the location of an incident or event, which goes through to Country Eye with a GPS location enabling easy identification of the site. If you haven’t done so already, go to the App Store and download Country Eye.  https://countryeye.co.uk/ 


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


Thousands of temporary workers are needed on British farms to help feed the nation during the coronavirus pandemic. 
Jobs are available on fruit farms, arable farms, livestock farms and in pack houses – with workers also needed to fill other vacancies. 
Follow @Kentslandarmy on Facebook for specific opportunities, or visit:
To apply, please visit: Hops Labour Solutions: https://hopslaboursolutions.com/
Concordia: www.concordiavolunteers.org.uk / 01273 422 218
Pro-Force Recruitment: https://pro-force.co.uk/ / 0333 335 6262
CDS Labour: http://cdslabour.co.uk/
British Summer Fruits: www.britishsummerfruits.co.uk/jobs / 020 7575 7654



Do you need someone to talk to?
The Farming Community Network
Helpline: 03000 111 999
7am – 11pm, every day of the year
Available to anyone in the farming community

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