8th October 2021


Rural Rap

MANSFIELDS WANTS TO INSTALL ROWS OF POLYTUNNELS ACROSS ITS FIELDS AT TWO BASES IN CANTERBURY, reports the Kent Messenger. Kent’s biggest fruit producer says climate change is resulting in the destruction of its cherries as more frequent and heavier rainstorms hit the county.  It claims that protecting the crops through the installation of polytunnels could increase yields by about 35% and would enable the company to invest in premium varieties to respond to market demands.  The plan has attracted a handful of local objections concerned about the “blots on the landscape,” but Mansfields says that the tunnels are an “essential feature of soft and top fruit growing in modern farming practice.”

A WORK VISA SCHEME SHOULD BE EXTENDED TO ADDRESS AN EMERGING JOB CRISIS IN KENT’S FARMING INDUSTRY, reports the Kent Messenger.  The NFU South East and Kent fruit growers have jointly called on the UK government for a major recruitment drive within the industry to alleviate employment pressures.  NFU SE says some farmers are facing 15-20% labour shortages for harvesting fruit and veg.  Almost half of the UK’s soft fruit is grown in the south east, and around 13,500 people are employed by Kent’s farming industry.  Kent’s farmers and growers look after 62% of the county’s total land area.  In all, the Kent farming sector generates £281m for the economy every year.

MORE THAN HALF OF ENGLAND’S BIG RIVERS ARE POLLUTED WITH SEWAGE PUMPED OUT BY WATER COMPANIES, reports the Times.  None of the country’s waterways are in good health and many have poor chemical status.  About 53% of rivers are failing to meet standards, at least in part due to the practices of the water sector.  Water UK conceded that investments had failed to increase the number of waterways achieving a “good” ecological status since 2009.  This is partly because water companies are allowed to discharge raw and partially untreated sewage into rivers and seas in “combined sewer overflow” – a legacy of the Victorian drainage system.

TESCO WILL IMPLEMENT THE LEAF MARQUE ENVIRONMENTAL ASSURANCE SCHEME ACROSS ITS ENTIRE GLOBAL PRODUCE SUPPLY CHAIN, reports Farming UK.  The move to strengthen the retailer’s environmental standards will see its 14,000 fresh produce growers adopt new climate-friendly measures.  LEAF said the announcement was a “hugely significant and transformative moment” in its 30-year history.  All of Tesco’s UK growers will be certified by the end of 2022, with measures including the increased implementation of regenerative practices, improved soil management, enriched wildlife diversity goals and reduced carbon footprints.

BRITAIN WILL ALWAYS NEED FOREIGN FRUIT PICKERS, reports the Telegraph.  George Eustice said the UK will always need some form of seasonal workers scheme but that the Government did not want a system which undermines the jobs market for Britons.  The UK is undertaking a pilot seasonal workers’ scheme which allows up to 30,000 workers to come and work in edible horticulture for up to 6 months.  The NFU welcomed the indication that such a scheme might be here to stay, but is seeking urgent clarity so that businesses can plan ahead and remove the annual uncertainty.  The British Growers Association has called for a higher cap on the number of workers eligible.

KENT’S POLICE & CRIME COMMISSIONER IS SEEKING INPUT TO DECIDING THE PRIORITIES FOR THE KENT POLICE FORCE.  Respondents to the survey will be asked what type of crimes matter most to you; about victim support, violent crime, road safety and antisocial behaviour.  It will also be asking about your own experiences of crime as well as personal counter measures taken.

COINCIDENTALLY, THE COUNTRYSIDE ALLIANCE HAS ALSO LAUNCHED ITS ANNUAL RURAL CRIME SURVEY.  The survey is seeking views on rural policing, experiences of crimes and the reactions of the police force. Views are sought from those who live, work or regularly visit rural areas across England, Scotland and Wales.  The survey is expected to take 10 minutes and responses are anonymous.

NATURAL ENGLAND IS CONDUCTING A SURVEY AIMED AT LAND MANAGERS AND LANDOWNERS.  As part of the ongoing work on the Countryside Code, the aim of the survey is to collect baseline information before the new Land Manager Guidance is published in late October.  It seeks information on how land managers and landowners welcome the public into those parts of the countryside and coast for which they are responsible.


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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