10th January 2020


Rural Rap

THE BOSS OF THE CURIOUS BREWERY HAS QUIT, reports the Kent Messenger.  Gareth Bath has been MD of the Curious brand for the last two years – the beer and cider arm of the Chapel Down empire.  During his time at the helm he oversaw the build of the new brewery in Ashford and a major rebranding.  He is leaving the company to pursue “other interests.”  Frazer Thompson, Chief Exec of Chapel Down, will take the helm for the time being. Kentonline.co.uk/kent-business/county-news/brewery-boss-quits-top-job-219572/

THE KENT COUNTY AGRICULTURAL SOCIETY WILL FACILITATE THE CONTINUED RUNNING OF BIDDENDEN TRACTORFEST, reports the Kent Showground, among others.  Last year’s event triggered fears that it had reached such a scale that it could no longer be run by volunteers alone and therefore would not be held in 2020.  However, KCAS’ intervention means that it will continue at the original Woolpack Corner site on the weekend of 15th & 16th August 2020.  The existing volunteers will still form much of the organising committee.  KCAS already runs found agriculture events throughout the year including the County Show and the Heritage Transport Show.  Stand applications for Tractorfest are already open.

THE GOVERNMENT HAS CONFIRMED THAT £2.85BN OF FUNDING WILL BE AVAILABLE TO SUPPORT FARMERS THIS YEAR, reports most of the farming press.  The CLA welcomed the announcement that the funding, which will maintain the level of funding for Direct Payments, will be available to support farmers post-Brexit.  The EU’s CAP scheme will be replaced by a new system based on public money for public goods.  The government has already guaranteed the current annual budget to farmers in every year of the parliament.  Farminguk.com/news/farmers-3-billion-support-confirmed-in-time-for-2020; fginsight.com/news/chancellors-3bn-commitment-to-farming—full-details-announced–100105; cla.org.uk/node/14264

THE DEFRA SECRETARY HAS PROMISED TO BOOST PRODUCTIVITY FOR FARMERS WHILE PROTECTING THE ENVIRONMENT, reports the CLA.  Speaking at the Oxford Farming Conference, Theresa Villiers said that throughout this year there will be radical changes to agricultural policy, which includes introducing the Agriculture Bill to Parliament later this month.  She said that “we want our new scheme to deliver value for money as well as boosting sustainable productivity to support farmers in their work of feeding the nation.”  The CLA welcomed the Secretary of State’s words, particularly her focus on rural productivity.  The CLA noted that the rural economy is “at least 16% less productive than the national average, but closing that productivity gap could add £43bn to the national economy.” cla.org.uk/cla-welcomes-environment-secretary%E2%80%99s-comments-oxford-farming-conference

ZAC GOLDSMITH HAS BEEN REAPPOINTED TO HIS ROLE AS A DEFRA MINISTER DESPITE LOSING HIS SEAT IN LAST MONTH’S GENERAL ELECTION, reports Farmers Weekly.  Since the election, Mr Goldsmith has been made a life peer and will continue in his role as minister of state at Defra and DfID.  It has been confirmed that he will be an unpaid minister.  The move has triggered some controversy.  He was first appointed a minister of state at the department on 10 September 2019, and had previously served as a parliamentary undersecretary of state at Defra.  His responsibilities at Defra include all animal welfare, live exports and religious slaughter, food chain policy and forestry.  fwi.co.uk/news/farm-policy/zac-goldsmith-reappointed-as-defra-minister

ENVIRONMENTAL ACTIVIST GEORGE MONBIOT HAS CLAIMED CONVENTIONAL FARMING WILL END IN FIFTY YEARS AS THE WORLD MOVES AWAY FROM “AGRICULTURE AS WE KNOW IT,” reports Farming UK, Farmers Weekly and the Farmers Guardian.  In a controversial Channel 4 documentary called “Apocalypse Cow,” he claimed that the human diet will rely on synthetic food made in laboratories, rather than produced across the thousands of farms that dot the UK.  He visited Finnish researchers who unveiled their process for food production.  He claims that “farm-free” foods could end modern farming, yet “still feed 10bn people to bring the world back from the point of collapse.”  Meat would still be “meat” but would be produced on “collagen scaffolds in factories, rather than in the body of an animal.”  He admitted that this would lead to the losses of millions of jobs, but urged the government to stop subsidising a “dying industry” and instead use the money to help farmers transition out of the sector.  farminguk.com/news/farming-as-we-know-it-will-end-in-50-years-monbiot-claims_54713.html

FARMERS HAVE HIT BACK AT THE CHANNEL 4 DOCUMENTARY (DETAILED ABOVE), DESCRIBING THE PROGRAMME AS IMBALANCED AND INACCURATE, AND UNFAIR VILIFICATION, reports Farmers Weekly and the Farmers Guardian.  Monbiot claims that farming is “no longer essential to human survival,” but farm and sustainable farming organisations have rejected this claim, while accepting that some change is necessary.  The NFU said that “in Britain we have some of the world’s highest standards of environmental protection, which we know is valued and trusted by the public.  What’s more, British farming has an ambition to become net zero by 2040 and is demonstrating that this can be done alongside invaluable food production.”  Farmers have also taken to social media to express their disappointment.  One farmer wrote “Could not be any more disappointed in your run of anti-farming programmes.  Biased, inaccurate, thoughtless and incredibly damaging to an industry which feeds people and cares passionately for the environment, not to mention the mental health of farmers.  #ShameOnYou”. fwi.co.uk/news/environment/farmers-reject-monbiot-claims-that-livestock-are-killing-the-planet; fginsight.com/news/farm-groups-slam-anti-meat-documentary-apocalypse-cow-for-unfair-vilification–100544

FILMMAKERS HAVE DEFENDED A FORTHCOMING TV DOCUMENTARY CALLED “HOW TO STEAL PIGS AND INFLUENCE PEOPLE,” reports Farmers Weekly.  The documentary will reveal how vegan activists steal pigs and harass farmers, and has prompted strong criticism from the National Pig Association.  Channel 4 says the documentary, which will air on Tuesday, follows a “unique community of vegan and ex-vegan influencers.  Some embark on farmyard heists; others are devoted to back-bedroom chicken sanctuaries.”  A letter from the NPA to Channel 4 claimed that the programme appeared to “condone and glamorise the theft of pigs.”  It also raises concerns about the biosecurity risks of moving pigs without a necessary licence and the condoning of activists travelling from country to country to trespass on pig farms.”  fwi.co.uk/livestock/pigs/channel-4-defends-how-to-steal-pigs-programme

CHANNEL 4 AND THE BBC HAVE COME UNDER FIRE FROM FARM GROUPS OVER THE ESCALATED MEDIA AGGRESSION TOWARDS MEAT CONSUMPTION THROUGH UNBALANCED REPORTING, reports the Farmers Guardian.  With farmers still smarting from the BBC Documentary: Meat: A Threat to our Planet?, the NFU has blasted the BBC for its Veganville documentary.  The three part documentary series features a group of five vegan activists.  The BBC has also been slammed for publishing an online piece “confessions of a slaughterhouse worker,” which along with a “wholly inaccurate picture” of UK abattoirs, also included “gratuitous and inaccurate” artist impressions.  Channel 4 has agreed a seven figure equity deal with a Yorkshire based company, Meatless Farm Co, in a move which has raised eyebrows.  fginsight.com/news/farm-groups-blast-broadcasters-for-bad-press-on-meat-consumption-100462

CONCERN IS BEING VOICED OVER SKY LANTERNS FOLLOWING THE DEVASTATING FIRE AT A GERMAN ZOO, reports the Countryside Alliance.  Drifting for miles, they can be a menace for farmers and landowners, claims the CA, who frequently report sheep, cattle and horses being injured or even dying from eating the wire metal frames of the lanterns, or being spooked by them, on top of the fire hazard they pose.  German authorities are investigating a family after they launched lanterns, which investigators believe may have caused a substantial fire at Krefeld Zoo that killed over 30 highly endangered animals.  farminguk.com/news/sky-lanterns-pose-very-real-threat-to-uk-farmers_54683.html

AUSTRALIA’S WILDFIRE CRISIS WILL HIT GLOBAL DAIRY AND SHEEP MEAT MARKETS, reports Farmers Weekly.  With the scale and tragedy of the crisis still unfolding, the MLA has made an initial assessment of likely losses in the worst-hit areas.  However a spokesperson did urge caution with any forecast because the extent of the full impact to livestock was “unknown and would take time to understand.”  It is believed though that 9% of the national cattle herd live in regions that have been significantly impacted and a further 11% in regions partially impacted.  13% of sheep are in the former category, with 17% in the latter.  AHDB forecasts that areas with significant fires could have supported more than 10m cattle and sheep.  For the UK, any drop in Australian sheep meat production would affect an already tight global meat market which could result in a pinch in supply in the UK. fwi.co.uk/business/markets-and-trends/meat-prices/australian-bushfires-could-hit-global-meat-and-sheep-market

WATER ABSTRACTION: New Authorisations Announcement

Extension to application period from 31 Dec 2019 to 30 June 2020

If you are currently abstracting for a previously exempt activity then this applies to you. 

A helpful six month extension has just been announced to the application window for previously exempt abstractions.  This will benefit trickle irrigators, wetland operators and other previously exempt abstracting business.  The New Authorisation regulations came into force on 1 January 2018, meaning that those previously exempt abstractions now require a licence. 

This is the LAST OPPORTUNITY to secure these protected rights for your abstraction and cannot be retrospectively applied after 30 June 2020. 

Apply now at: www.gov.uk/guidance/water-management-abstract-or-impound-water


4th March: Farm Expo
Farm Expo, organised by the Kent Agricultural Society, showcases machinery, supplies and services for the agricultural industry with trade stands, seminars and networking opportunities.  Kent’s standout agricultural event will host major national and international providers of farm machinery and services and will host seminars on the industry’s trending topics.
Trade stands can be booked until 31st January by contacting Meghan Rice-Wilson on meghan@kentshowgroumd.co.uk / 01622 633 057
The Kent Showground, Detling
To register your attendance: http://bit.ly/2LdY4l1

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