25th October 2019


Rural Rap

KENT BUSINESSES HAVE BEEN “COMPLACENT” IN THEIR EFFORTS TO ATTRACT TOURISTS POST-BREXIT, reports the Kent Messenger.  Deidre Wells, Chief Exec of Visit Kent, called for a strategy of being “aggressively welcoming” to help keep the county’s tourism industry afloat.  In 2017, the Kent tourism industry was worth £3.8bn, with a record 65m annual visitors.  She said “we can either hunker down and just hope the damage isn’t too bad or we can think, no, we actually need to rebuild and use these big events to go “we’re here, we’re welcoming, we’re open, we’re proud.”  Kent Online

AC GOATHAM WILL BE PLANTING AROUND 320,000 NEW FRUIT TREES IN KENT THIS AUTUMN, reports the Kent Messenger.  This will take the total planted over the last seven years to well over 1.5m.  Their 25 farms currently cover an area equal to 11 Bluewaters, including all the car parks, or 1,698 football pitches.  This, added to the miles of native trees planted as hedges, makes Goatham one of the UK’s largest tree planters.  The new commercial orchards have a lifespan of around 20 years.  Goatham’s is also bringing to life many new orchards across Kent, such as the once derelict 175 acres at Turkey Hall Farm on the Hoo Peninsular.   Kent Online

THE TASTE OF KENT AWARDS NOMINATION AND VOTING IS NOW UNDERWAY, reports The Taste of Kent Awards.  In particular there are couple of categories open to farm business to self-nominate, namely Kent Farm Diversification of the Year and the Kent Countryside Award.  It is free to enter, and you don’t need to be a Produced in Kent member.  The deadline for nomination is early January.

Taste of Kent – Farm Diversification of the Year  
Taste of Kent – Kent Countryside Award

THE MAJORITY OF BRITISH PEOPLE ADMIT TO TAKING FOOD SAFETY FOR GRANTED, reports Farming UK.  A new YouGov survey of more than 2,000 adults looked at people’s concerns about the food they buy and how their confidence in UK produced food has been restored.  Commissioned by the Red Tractor, it reveals a market difference in the levels of trust between supermarkets and restaurants when it comes to their food standards.  71% were confident that supermarket food has been produced to high standards, compared to just half who felt confident about standards and traceability in restaurant food.  The report shows that British food and farming is highly valued by the public.  17% of people in the US suffer from foodborne illnesses each year, compared to just 1.5% in the UK.   Farming UK

A THIRD OF GROWERS HAVE LEFT 100 TONS OF FRUIT UNPICKED BECAUSE OF LABOUR SHORTAGES, reports Farming UK and the Daily Mail.  The UK apple harvest, worth £400m a year, has been hardest hit by the worker shortage, in part fuelled by ongoing political uncertainty.  The 100 tons of fruit is estimated to be about 16m apples.  Growers of sprouts, cabbages and cauliflowers are also affected by the migrant drain.  The Chairman of the AHDB said that the unpicked apples are “enough to feed 44,000 children every day for a year.”  Horticulture uses just 2% of UK land but produces 19% of total agricultural output.  Fruit and vegetable production contributes around £2bn to the UK economy.
Farming UK – Labour Shortage
Daily Mail – Shortage of Pickers

THE GOVERNMENT CONFIRMED THIS WEEK THAT EU CITIZENS WILL STILL BE ABLE TO COME AND DO SEASONAL WORK ON FARMS AFTER BREXIT, reports the Countryside Alliance.  The CA welcomed the news and said that it understands the importance of workers from the EU to the food and farming industry, and to the broader rural economy.  The government also said that there will be “no change to the requirements for employing seasonal workers in 2020.  Check a job applicant’s right to work, as you do now, until 1 January 2021.”  Countryside Alliance

MCDONALD’S UK HAS OPENED APPLICATIONS FOR ITS 2020 PROGRESSIVE YOUNG FARMER SUPPLY CHAIN PROGRAMME, reports Farming UK.   The initiative enables up to nine students to spend 12 months getting to know the fast food giant’s supply chain.  Open to full-time undergraduates, it aims to provide opportunities for students to gain practical experience from farm-to-fork.  Applicants will get the opportunity to work with a number of different suppliers, farmers and stakeholders around the UK.  The one-year placement comes with a £17,000 salary and paid holiday.   Applications close at midnight on 1st December.   Farming UK

FARMLAND VALUES IN THE UK ARE STILL 10% ABOVE LEVELS ACHIEVED 5 YEARS AGO, reports Farming UK.  Despite new figures showing a decrease of 4.7% this year, Carter Jonas has revealed that, despite short-term fluctuations, farmland values are still 10% above levels achieved in 2014.  At the end of September, publicly marketed land across the UK was around 83,000 acres for the year, a 40% decrease on 2018.  Farming UK


FCN is a voluntary organisation supporting farmers and their families through difficult times.  With over 400 volunteers across the country, its confidential helpline is open every day from 7am to 11pm.

The charity is strengthening its local volunteer groups in response to a growing need for support as a result of ever-increasing challenges facing those who work in the sector.

If you have an understanding of the farming industry, a genuine interest in the wellbeing of those who work in it, and are seeking a rewarding voluntary role, please get in touch.

FCN KENT is seeking a Group Co-Ordinator, a Group Chairperson, and other volunteers.

For further information, please contact:

Mark Thomas, Regional Director (South), at mark@fcn.org.uk on 07815 082 326.



The Old Chalk New Downs project is offering grants for capital work proposals that contribute to securing habitat connectivity and improving access across the project area, through the enhancement and management of chalk grassland, hedges and ponds.

If you have a project idea, please contact William Moreno at: william.moreno@kent.gov.uk, call 03000 410 348, or visit www.oldchalknewdowns.org.uk.

Dates for your diary

16th November : Wine Garden of England Festival
Sip, share and discover the stories behind some of England’s finest wines at this exclusive festival at Rochester Cathedral, back for its second year.  The Wine Garden of England is made up of seven Kent wine producers: Biddenden, Chapel Down, Domain Evremond, Gusbourne, Hush Heath, Simpsons’ Wine Estate and Squerryes.  During the festival, you will have the chance to meet expert winemakers, sampleup to 30 premium wines from Kent and learn more about our very own wine pioneers.
Rochester Cathedral, Rochester, ME1 1SX
Multiple times available; tickets £35 each
To book a ticket, please visit: winegardenofengland.co.uk/events/

3rd December : Carols at Christmas
Raising money for R.A.B.I.  and FCN

For children and adults of all ages, in the cattle ring at Ashford market.  Music and singing, nativity play with real animals and real smells, free mulled wine and mince pies.  Raffle for a Christmas hamper, donated by Perry Court Farm Shop.  Courtesy of Hobbs Parker.
The Cattle Ring, Ashford Market, Kent TN24 0HB
Entry is completely free, dress warmly.
For further information: Richard Beaugie on 01233 732 580 or randjbeaugie@gmail.com

To receive the Rural Rap direct to your inbox please contact info@ruralplc.com