56% OF ORCHARD COVER HAS BEEN LOST SINCE 1900, reports the BBC. Orchards are vanishing from the landscape, with an area the size of the Isle of Wight lost since 1900. The disappearance is having an impact on flora and fauna, with orchards torn down to make way for houses and farming. Traditional orchards can support wildlife such as flies, bees, bats and birds. Kent now has the highest total orchard cover of any UK county, and is one of only three counties that has more orchards now than 100 years ago.
AS FREE-RANGE EGGS DISAPPEAR FROM SHELVES, KENT’S EGG FARMERS HAVE BEEN QUICK TO ALLAY CONCERNS, reports the Kent Messenger. Farmers have had to keep all poultry inside since November due to Avian Flu. After a 16-week period they must be labelled “barn eggs” as opposed to “free-range,” as they have not had access to outdoor runs. Farmers were quick to reassure consumers, noting that the 16 week cut-off is an arbitrary length of time, and eggs on shelves haven’t actually been free-range since November. Eggs in shops will now be sold as “barn eggs.” So far no outbreaks of bird flu have been reported in Kent and the closest, which is now under control, has been in Suffolk.
WHILE THE BUDGET’S TAX CUTS WERE WELCOMED, IT WAS CRITICISED FOR NOT GOING FAR ENOUGH FOR FARMERS, reports Farming UK and Farmers Weekly. While inflation is expected to average 7.4% this year, farmers are continuing to struggle with rising prices in fuel, energy, fertiliser and other materials they need to keep their businesses running. The spring statement announced a 5p cut in fuel duty and a slight reduction (about 1p) in red diesel duty. However, the red diesel price is roughly double what it was a year ago, impacting food production at a crucial time for farming. While the increased NI threshold will be welcome to all workers, it was seen as disappointing that the impending NI hike was not delayed altogether.
THE HOME OFFICE HAS CONFIRMED A MINIMUM WAGE RATE OF £10.10/HR FOR SEASONAL WORKERS, reports Farmers Weekly. The wage increases apply to seasonal workers recruited within this year’s Seasonal Worker Scheme for horticultural growers. The government extended the Seasonal Worker Scheme in December to make 30,000-40,000 six-month visas available for the horticulture sector. But it also warned that the sector would need to improve pay and conditions as part of post-Brexit plans to reduce the reliance on migrant workers.
FARM MANAGERS ARE NOW EARNING AN AVERAGE OF £53,306, reports Farmers Weekly. In addition to a gross salary of £50,224 and £3,082 in profit shares and bonuses, managers also receive non-cash benefits including accommodation worth £10,766. However, the 7.6% increase in salary package over the last two years is actually only a 1.35% increase after inflation. 4% now earn over £100,000 in cash terms. At nearly double a decade ago, 46% of people in managerial positions are under 40, contradicting the received wisdom that farmers are getting older. Women account for 5% of farm managers – up from just 2% 2 years ago.
£10,000 of Capital Grant Scheme funding available to Kent farmers and landowners.
Farmers and landowners in West Kent and surrounding areas are invited to a meeting to learn how to apply for £10k of Capital Grant Scheme funding from South East Water.
The grants, of up to £10k each, are for on-farm improvements such as pesticide handling areas, and other initiatives that help rover and groundwater quality.
While this event is primarily for farmers in the Teise, Pembury or Hartlake catchments, there is support available to farmers across Kent and all are welcome to attend.
Wednesday 30th March 2022
9.30am (breakfast included)
Marden Cricket & Hockey Club, 319 Maidstone Rd, Marden TN12 9AG
To register: eventbrite.co.uk/e/293663674957
BASIS and NRoS0 points available
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