26th February 2021


Rural Rap

KENT WILDLIFE TRUST HAS COMPLETED A PROJECT AT DOVER CASTLE TO RESTORE THE HISTORIC CHALK GRASSLAND, reports the KWT.  Over the course of 2019 and 2020, KWT worked with English Heritage on their “Dover on the Defensive” project, which aimed to conserve the ancient stonework and historic fortifications in the moat around Dover Castle, as well as restoring the species-rich historic chalk grassland that surrounds the area.  Chalk grassland is rare, with 80% of the UK’s lost since WW2.  Dover accounts for 2.5% of the overall international chalk grassland area.

ROMNEY MARSH RESIDENTS ARE BEING INVITED TO MAKE A REAL DIFFERENCE TO LOCAL WILDLIFE, reports the Kent Wildlife Trust.  The Fifth Continent Landscape Conservation Scheme, led by the Trust and funded by the National Lottery, is inviting residents to get involved in surveying the wildlife of the Marsh in a necessary step to understanding its biodiversity.  Once the data is collected, the findings will be used by partner conservation organisations to develop solutions to improve biodiversity in the area. All abilities and skill levels are welcome: the only qualifying criteria is an enthusiasm for nature.

FLY-TIPPING INCIDENTS ROSE 2% LAST YEAR, BUT THE NUMBER OF ENFORCEMENT ACTIONS FELL BY 5%, reports the Countryside Alliance and Farming UK.  9766,000 incidents were reported in 2019/20, with 65% of those involving household waste.  Most commonly, fly-tipping incidents are a “small van load” (34%) and deposited on pavements and roads (43%).   3% of total incidents were “tipper lorry load” size or larger – a decrease of 8% year on year.  These large fly-tipping incidents cost local authorities £10.9m in the year.

NEXT WEEK’S BUDGET COULD INCLUDE SOME “SUNAK SURPRISES,” reports Farming UK.  The Chancellor, who is looking for ways to get the economy moving while paying the Covid bill, will deliver the Budget on 3rd March at 12.30pm.  The NFU Mutual has identified potential tax changes to watch out for: introduction of IHT on pensions; stealth taxes; aligning pensions with ISAs; CGT increases for farmers; a one-off Covid Tax (for example, a 1% tax on wealth over £500k for five years would raise £260bn).

BORIS JOHNSON HAS PROMISED THE COUNTRY’S FARMERS THAT HE WILL DEFEND BRITISH FOOD AND FARMING STANDARDS IN THE UK’S TRADE NEGOTIATIONS, reports Farming UK.  The PM made the commitment in a recorded message to the NFU’s annual conference.  “We won’t compromise on high environmental protection, animal welfare and food standards,” he said in his address.  Farm leaders have repeatedly expressed fears that the government may be prepared to allow imports produced to lower standards in order to secure trade agreements with the likes of the US and Australia.  Ministers have repeatedly insisted that they would protect UK standards, though they refused to go so far as to put such assurances into law via the agriculture bill.

SIR KEIR STARMER TOLD THE NFU CONFERENCE THAT “FARMING MATTERS TO LABOUR,” reports Farming UK.  It was the first time that Labour has participated in the conference since 2008.  He said that the party stands with farmers and rural areas.  He used the platform to encourage the government to do more to buy British food, addressed issues regarding farm payments and agricultural skills.  He said: “there can be a bright future for British farming that must support rural communities to thrive.  It must maintain our high food standards and recognise them as a great strength, not as a bargaining chip in trade deals.”

FARMING COMMUNITIES HAVE BEEN URGED TO “LOOK OUT FOR EACH OTHER” AMID MENTAL HEALTH CONCERNS, reports Kent Online.  The Farm Safety Foundation, known as Yellow Wellies, has been running its Mind Your Head campaign this week, highlighting dramatic figures surrounding mental health in farming.  133 suicide were registered in 2019 among those working in farming related trades.  88% of farmers under 40 rank poor mental health as the biggest hidden problem facing farmers today.  Farmers’ issues are often exacerbated by long periods spent alone, the cancellation of shows and other social events, and even poor wi-fi in rural areas.

THE GOVERNMENT WILL RESPECT THE OUTCOME OF THE BALLOT WHICH VOTED TO ABOLISH THE AHDB HORTICULTURE LEVY, reports Farming UK.  Speaking at the NFU Conference, Defra Secretary George Eustice said the government would be taking swift action on the matter.  Earlier this month, a majority of growers voted against the continuation of the levy.  Mr Eustice confirmed that while some individual AHDB services may be retained on a voluntary basis for those who want them, the compulsory levy would end.



FARMING IN PROTECTED LANDSCAPES WORKSHOPS:  3rd March at 5pm; 9th March at 2pm; 11h March at 5pm.  See below box for full details.
To book on go to  eventbrite.co.uk/e/farming-in-the-kent-downs-aonb-opportunities-for-the-future-tickets-1414791429



This year BPS payments will start to be phased out in the lead up to Environmental Land Management (E.L.M.). One of the best ways to keep payments coming in and ensure you’re ready for E.L.M. is to apply for the Countryside Stewardship (CS) Scheme. Also, from April 2021-2024, a new Farming in Protected Landscapes scheme will provide financial support to farmers and other land managers in Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and National Parks.

Working with colleagues in the AONB and Natural England, FWAG will be able to provide free support to you through local 1:1 advice and local (online) workshops.

If you farm or manage land in the AONB and are interested in taking part for further details, please reply to Paul Cobb – it would be helpful if you could briefly confirm your areas of interest and providing very brief details of your farm or land management.

We will be running 3 local online workshops to discuss these opportunities with you on: Weds 3rd March at 5pm; Tuesday 9th March at 2 pm and Thursday 11th March at 5pm. To book on go to  https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/farming-in-the-kent-downs-aonb-opportunities-for-the-future-tickets-14147914292


RABI has launched the largest ever research project in England and Wales relating to the wellbeing of farming people.  This wide-ranging survey will consider for the first time the relationship between physical health, mental wellbeing and the health of farm businesses.

Who can take part: farmers, farm workers, their spouses and adult-aged children
When: 11th January to 31st March 2021
Content: the survey will take about 15 minutes to complete and will cover three aspects: your mental health, your physical health, and the health of your farming business.
Availablity Online: rabi.org.uk/BigFarmingSurvey
Available in print: hard copies will be circulated in various farming magazines and via postal farming lists.  Alternatively, email FarmSurvey@exeter.ac.uk

The aim is to get 26,000 questionnaires completed, to give a better understanding of the overall health of our industry, and to help target the available support to where it is most needed.


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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