25th June 2021


Rural Rap

M&S HAVE FILMED A CHERRY ADVERT FOR ITV WITH SITTINGBOURNE FARMER SARAH NEAVES AT HER DODDINGTON FARM, reports the Kent Messenger.  Sarah Neaves is about to become known as Britain’s “Queen of the Cherries.”  A 35-strong film unit took two days to show the four one-minute mini-features at Little Sharsted Farm.  They will be shown on ITV in July during This Morning and after the early evening news.  The Neaves’ cherries are graded within two hours of being picked and are on supermarket shelves within 24 to 48 hours.  In 2015 the business invested £1.5m in a new packhouse which can store up to 2,200 tonnes of fruit.

PRODUCED IN KENT HAS APPOINTED SUE NELSON AS THE NEW CHAIR OF ITS BOARD, reports Kent Online.  Enterpreneur and self-made millionaire Sue Nelson, who is also an author and broadcaster, first joined the board of the membership organisation last year.  A member of the Guild of Food Writers and author of ten books including FoodTech UK, the co-host of Sunday Brunch was awarded Kent Business Woman of the Year in 2017.  In a statement accompanying the announcement, Sue Nelson said the Kent food and drink sector contributes £2.6bn to our economy each year.

THE RURAL TASK FORCE TARGETED ILLEGAL WASTE CARRIERS AND FLY-TIPPERS IN NORTH KENT LAST WEEK, reports Kent Police.  Five vans were seized as part of the operation, including four in Dartford and one in Gravesend, for various offences including being untaxed and uninsured, as well as carrying unlicensed waste.

THE GOVERNMENT HAS ISSUED A NEW PLEDGE TO TACKLE ILLEGAL HARE COURSING, reports Farming UK and other farming press.  Industry groups have been lobbying intensely on the issue.  Campaigners have criticised the current centuries old legislation – dating back to the Game Act of 1831 – as outdated and archaic.  New proposals would give police and courts greater power to tackle offenders in the field, remove the tools of their trade and impose stiffer penalties at conviction.  A new criminal offence has been mooted of “going equipped” for hare coursing.  The Countryside Alliance and the CLA have both welcomed the pledge.

THE UK & US HAVE REACHED AN AGREEMENT FOR THE TEMPORARY SUSPENSION OF TARIFFS ON AGRICULTURAL GOODS, reports Farming UK.  Higher rate tariffs were imposed on a range of products from October 2019 at a rate of 25% on the value of the product.  This was due to the Airbus-Boeing dispute between the US and the EU.  Under the new agreement, both sides will remove tariffs on £8.2bn of goods, including wine, cheese, clothes and tractors, for five years.  The US is a key market for the UK, accounting for around a sixth of the UK’s total trade – more than 10x as much as with Australia.

FARMERS ARE PREPARING SMALLER EVENTS FOR THIS WEEK’S OPEN FARM SUNDAY, reports Farming UK.  The event is going ahead as planned, despite the full lifting of lockdown restrictions being delayed.  The annual open day, this Sunday, gives farmers full autonomy on how to run their event – such as what kind of event they offer, how long it lasts and for how many people.  To find an open farm locally to you, visit: https://farmsunday.org/visit-a-farm

FARMERS AND BREWERS ARE UNDERTAKING A THREE YEAR TRIAL TO IDENTIFY DISEASE RESISTANT HOP VARIETIES TO FEED UK DEMAND FOR LOW-IMPACT BEER, reports Farming UK.  Brewers and hop merchants say demand for environmentally friendly beer and locally sourced ingredients has accelerated since the pandemic. However, there is a lack of UK grown organic hops, with currently only three such growers supplying the whole market.  Hops are notoriously vulnerable to disease and pests in the UK’s temperate climate, leaving conventional growers heavily reliant on a dwindling number of agro-chemicals, and organic growers facing two-in-five crop failures.  To tackle this issue, the field lab is bringing hop growers together with the Organic Research Centre to co-design practical on-farm research.

AF BIOMASS HAS BEEN PUT INTO ADMINISTRATION, reports Farming UK.  The straw merchang, which is a wholly owned subsidiary of the farmer-owned co-op AF Group, sources straw for the energy, food and farming sectors and operates across the whole of England.  A statement released to members said it had “no realistic prospect” of being able to meet its contractual obligations to supply straw to the power stations.  It added that the market had changed “dramatically” since the company’s inception in 2013.  It confirmed that all AF members who supplied straw have been paid, but an inter-company debt of £1m owed by AF Biomass to AF Group will not be fully recovered.


Farmers in the Darent Valley are seeking a FARMER CLUSTER OFFICER to help steer them through a changing agricultural and environmental landscape. The new position will convene meetings, coordinate action across multiple farms and help develop local priorities in line with the needs of the farmers and for a thriving Darent river. This is an exciting opportunity to work at the forefront of a new chapter in agriculture and conservation.

The post is hosted jointly by the Kent Wildlife Trust and the Kent Downs AONB unit, to ensure an integrated approach.  For further information, and to apply: kentwildlifetrust.org.uk/jobs/farmer-cluster-officer-darent-valley

Closing date: Friday 25th June


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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