25th February 2022


Rural Rap

A VERTICAL FARMING OPERATOR HAS SECURED £100M OF FUNDING TO BUILD A NEW FACILITY IN SANDWICH, reports the Grocer.  GrowUP, which describes itself as a “pioneer in controlled environment farming,” used to supply salads to wholesale, Foodservice and the likes of Wholefoods and Farmdrop.  The £100m investment, secured from US green investment firm Generate Capital, will help deliver the low-emission Kent farm, bringing “fresher, longer-lasting leafy salads to supermarket shelves year-round.”  The facility is said to use 95% less water than conventional growing methods, while salads grown on the farm could save up to three million lorry miles a year.  The first harvest is expected by the end of the year and will be grown without pesticides or chlorine washing, and energy requirements are provided by renewable energy sources.
GrowUp Farms secures £100m in funding for vertical farm in Kent | News | The Grocer

DOZENS OF KENT HOMES ARE STILL WITHOUT POWER AFTER LAST WEEK’S STORM DAMAGE, reports the Kent Messenger and the BBC.  Three storms have battered the nation in the past week, leaving 1.4m households without electricity last Friday.  Around 4100 households in the south east still have faults, including 250 in east and mid Kent, and 3,000 in East Sussex and west Kent.  Anyone affected by Storm Eunice will be eligible to receive £50 after 24 hours without electricity, an additional £70 after 48 hours, and an additional £70 thereafter for every 12 hours without power.

A GROUP OF ENTREPENEURS ARE HOPING TO OPEN A BREWERY AND TAP ROOM ON AN AWARD-WINNING FARM, reports the Kent Messenger.  Moot Brew Co wants to launch a new venture at Court Farm in Upper Halling, which is already home to a butchery and farm shop.  The six friends all live in the area already and are looking to join the thriving business community in Pilgrims Road.  Plans are to convert an old barn to brew their own craft beers where visitors can see them at work and sample the ale.  They hope to supply pubs, bars, restaurants and off-licences too.  The farm, which has been owned by the Lingham family for three generations, has won county-wide awards.

THE FAVERSHAM HOP FESTIVAL MAY BE AXED IF ORGANISERS CANNOT RAISE £10K BY THE END OF FEBRUARY, reports Kent Online.  The festival is one of Kent’s most popular events and has grown in popularity since its first hosting 32 years ago.  It draws in 20,000 punters and is a big boost for the town’s economy.  But the boozy September celebration, which has been on a two year hiatus due to the pandemic, is at risk.  While always run on a shoestring, this year is proving trickier than ever and is facing a £10k shortfall from its £80k budget.  While September is a long way off, the decision needs to be made now as to whether or not organisation should progress.  As it is a free event for the public, organisers rely on sponsorship to keep it afloat, and securing sponsorship from small businesses this year is understandably difficult.

GRAIN, OIL AND FERTILISER MARKETS SHOT UP YESTERDAY MORNING IN REACTION TO RUSSIA’S INVASION OF UKRAINE, reports Farmers Weekly, among many others.  The London May 2022 feed wheat futures contract open £20/t up on last night’s close.  Oil passed $100/barrel in early trading and the military action put over 5ppl on red diesel on Thursday morning.  Aside from the potential disruption to trade for two of the world’s largest wheat exporters, there are fears for the 2022 harvest in Ukraine that might result from the action.  Ex-farm spot values were £250/t by late morning in a minute-by-minute market.  In each of the past five years, Russia and Ukraine combined have exported between 50m and 60m tonnes of wheat – accounting for over 35% of world wheat trade.  Ukraine is also a big maize producer and is forecast to account for about 17% of global corn exports.
Dramatic commodity market reaction to Russia moves on Ukraine – Farmers Weekly (fwi.co.uk)

WHEAT, MAIZE AND SUNFLOWER OIL EXPORTS FROM RUSSIA AND UKRAINE FACE DISRUPTION FOLLOWING THE FORMER’S INVASION OF THE LATTER, reports the Farmers Guardian.  It is reported that commercial ship movements are already disrupted, and there are likely to be disruptions to volumes available.  Russia and Ukraine were expected to account for 78% of global supply of sunflower oil this year, and disruption to that will trigger greater demand for other vegetable oils, as well as rapeseed oil – this will have its effect on rapeseed prices.  The escalation will also have an impact on fuel and fertiliser prices.  Natural gas prices have also shot up, which could impact nitrogen fertiliser prices.  No sanctions have yet targeted fertiliser, but this situation could change and disruptions could push prices yet higher.

THE UK’S VET CRISIS IS DEEPENING, reports Farming UK.  EU registrant numbers have dropped by two-thirds since 2019.  Data revealed by the RCVS shows that the annual number of registrants coming to work in the UK fell by 68% from 2019 to 2021.  The BVA warns that this drop, due to the end of free movement and also the pandemic, could result in wide-ranging direct and knock-on impacts across the sector.  The UK’s vet force is highly reliant on EU registrants, with 29% of the total existing workforce graduating in the EU.

FARMERS WILL RECEIVE FULLY-FUNDED ANNUAL VET VISITS AND GRANTS TO IMPROVE LIVESTOCK CONDITIONS, reports Farming UK.  George Eustice, speaking at the NFU Conference on Tuesday, outlined his vision for the future of the UK’s livestock sectors.  He announced measures to reduce mastitis and lameness in dairy cattle, to improve biosecurity to control pig diseases and improving the feather cover of laying hens.  To help the sector make these improvements, the government will launch Animal Health and Welfare Grants within the next year.

AGRICULTURE SHOWS AND PLOUGHING MATCHES WILL BE ALLOWED TO CONTINUE USING RED DIESEL AFTER CHANGES TO THE LAW IN APRIL, reports The Farmers Guardian.  Following months of negotiations, the reclassification of agricultural shows has been achieved, saving the sector costs in excess of £500k.  The Treasury said that it had “decided to add the running of, and participation in, an agricultural show as an accepted purposes relating to agriculture.”

The Big Farming Quiz - Friday 4th March 2022

Weald Kent Young Farmers Club

Friday 4th March
7.30pm for 8pm start

Benenden Village Hall, TN17 4DE

Teams of 6-8, £8/person, raffle
Bring your own food and drink

To enter a team, email wealdofkentyfc@gmail.com

RABI RACEDAY & LUNCH - Monday 28th February 2022

RABI request the pleasure of your company at the race day and lunch, kindly sponsored by Betty Chantler. 

Gates open at 11.20am, with lunch served at 12.15pm in the track side marquee. 

Tickets £70 each (tables of 8, 10 or 12) to include entrance, welcome glass of English sparkling wine, lunch, afternoon tea, car parking and race card

NB This year’s bookings are being taken directly by the racecourse.  To book, visit plumptonracecourse.co.uk and select “Buy Tickets.”  From the fistures section, select Monday 28 February – RABI Raceday.  Scroll down to the “Add a Voucher Code” and enter RABI2022.  This will bring up the option to purchase tickets for £70.  Any questions should be directed to Molly Taylor or Rebecca Warnett at Plumpton on 01273 890 383 or at racing@plumptonracecourse.co.uk

AONB KENT DOWNS : Grants for farmers, land managers and landowners

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:

  • Provide opportunities for people to discover, enjoy and understand the landscape and cultural heritage
  • Support nature-friendly, sustainable farm businesses
  • Mitigate the impacts of climate change
  • Support nature recovery


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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