20th March 2020

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Rural Rap

PLEASE SEE LIST OF CANCELLED EVENTS AT THE BOTTOM OF THIS POST: If we have NOT heard that an event is cancelled, it is still listed in the calendar as going ahead. It may however be advisable to check with the organisers whether the event is still taking place.

SHEPHERD NEAME’S VISITOR CENTRE HAS THE BEST WELCOME IN THE SOUTH EAST, reports Produced in Kent.  Visit England, the national tourism organisation, made the award to the Faversham-based visitor centre in recognition of “high standards” achieved, which it was felt were “truly deserving of recognition.”  The centre is set in a beautifully-restored medieval hall house in the historic brewery site.  From there, visitors are taken on an 80-minute guided tour where they learn the ancient art of brewing and the history of Britain’s oldest brewer.  As part of the tour, visitors can see a Victorian malt kiln and two rare surviving steam engines.  read more…

ASHFORD LIVESTOCK MARKET WILL REMAIN OPEN AND AUCTIONS WILL TAKE PLACE AS USUAL, reports Hobbs Parker.  Following the government’s recent announcements, the mart has updated its policies:  attendance at the auction is being restricted to as few people as possible.  This means that only individuals selling or buying should attend – please do not attend in family groups.  Onlookers and the public are not to attend, nor should children or pregnant women.  In line with broader government advice, please wash your hands regularly, respect personal distance, and any person who is unwell, showing symptoms of the virus, or has an underlying health issue should not attend.  read more…
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THE KENT WILDLIFE TRUST IS KEEPING ITS NATURE RESERVES OPEN FOR VISITORS, reports the KWT.  The organisation has reiterated its commitment to restoring, saving and enhancing our natural heritage and has come to a number of conclusions on that basis.  Volunteer groups and corporate task days have been suspended for the time being, and volunteers in the visitor centres are also asked not to attend.  There are other guidelines in place for specific individual volunteers.  The government has recommended, as part of its social distancing guidelines, regular exercise in large open spaces.  The KWT emphasises that its beautiful reserves provide the perfect setting for such exercise.  To find a local reserve, please visit the website.  read more…

KENT’S NATIONAL TRUST IS SET TO OPEN ITS PARKS AND OPEN SPACES FOR FREE SO THAT PEOPLE CAN STILL GET OUT AND ENJOY SOME EXERCISE, reports the Kent Messenger.  The news comes as the charity, which marks its 125th anniversary this year, will close its pay-for-entry sites including houses, cafes and shops tomorrow.  The Trust was founded “for the benefit of the entire nation…we want to honour our mission and enable people and nature to thrive.”  The Trust’s Kent sites include: Chartwell, Smallhythe Place, Scotney Castle, White Cliffs of Dover, Sissinghurst, and Emmetts Garden.  South Foreland Lighthouse at Dover, Stoneacre near Maidstone, and Quebec House near Westerham will all be closed.   read more…

FRUIT GROWERS ARE WARNING THAT THE CURRENT CRISIS COULD HAVE A DEVASTATING IMPACT ON ITS WORKFORCE, reports the Kent Messenger.  The fruit industry in Kent, and further afield, relies heavily on the availability of seasonal, often migrant, labour to bring in the soft fruit harvest in the spring and early summer, but with borders closing across the continent there could be difficulty in sourcing the necessary workers.  The Chairman of the trade body, British Summer Fruits, has issued a broad appeal for British workers to come forward and fill gaps in the labour force ahead of the picking season.  There are calls for the government to classify food supply chain staff as key workers in a bid to avert the feared crunch.  Without these workers, fresh fruit and vegetables will simply not be able to get from the field to the shops.
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CORONAVIRUS IS ESTIMATED TO HAVE CUT CHINESE CO2 EMISSIONS BY A QUARTER, reports the Week.  The three week decline equals about 150m metric tons of CO2 – roughly the amount that New York produces in a year.  Photographs from NASA show the remarkable effect that the suspension of industry in China over a short period had on its pollution levels.  Air travel, which contributes over 2% of global CO2 emissions, has also been virtually wiped out.  People are staying at home rather than getting in their cars and going shopping.  Cruises have taken a massive swipe – another win for the environment, given that a seven day cruise produces the same carbon footprint per passengers as 18 days on the land.  The signs of benefits to the environment are showing themselves already: Venice is enjoying crystal clear waters in its canals, with fish and swans returning.
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MORRISONS HAS ANNOUNCED IT WILL PAY FARMERS EARLIER THAN USUAL AS THE RETAILER DEALS WITH CORONAVIRUS, reports Farming UK.  Farmers, local foodmakers and small businesses will be paid early to support them amid the spread of the disease.  Morrisons said faster payments will assist with cashflow.  The supermarket has also temporarily reclassified small suppliers as those with £100,000 of business-a-year to those with £1m, meaning an additional 1,000 food businesses will qualify for the terms.  Around 1,750 farmers will benefit.   read more…

A PARLIAMENTARY COMMITTEE WILL HEAR EVIDENCE FROM A RANGE OF EXPERTS ON FOOD SUPPLY, reports Farming UK.  The EFRA Committee will also question George Eustice, Secretary of State.  Likely topics include measures taken to minimise and discourage panic-buying and the provision of food to households in self-isolation.  They will also look at how those currently relying on food banks will be supported during the pandemic.  Witnesses will also include representatives from the British Retail Consortium, UK Hospitality?, and the Trussell Trust.  The hearing will take place on Tuesday afternoon.  The Committee will then question Mr Eustice, considering food supply in the ongoing crisis, as well as other issues such as flooding.  read more…

THE CHANCELLOR DECLARED CORONAVIRUS AN ECONOMIC EMERGENCY AND LAID OUT A NUMBER OF RESCUE MEASURES THIS WEEK, reports the Countryside Alliance.  To support businesses across the UK, £330bn of guarantees was made available as an initial starting point.  He also promised that, if this package was not enough, the Government was committed to going further.  The measures will support lending to SMEs, a complete moratorium on business rates for those in the retail, leisure and hospitality sectors; and an Employment Support Package to help mitigate employment costs.  The Countryside Alliance welcomed the direct support for small businesses.  read more…

FARMERS ARE BEING GIVEN NEW ADVIC ON HOW TO MEASURE FOOD SURPLUS AND WASTE TO IDENTIFY THE CAUSES AND HELP INFORM WHERE ACTION IS NEEDED, reports Farming UK.  It is estimated that 3.6m tonnes of food either goes to waste on UK farmers each year, or is surplus to requirements.  According to WRAP, that’s a potential £1.2bn loss to the sector – equivalent to 7% of the total food harvest.  Almost 19% of lettuces went unharvested in 2015, with 38,000 tonnes lost across the sector – worth £7m. read more…

TENANT FARMERS ARE SET TO BENEFIT FROM GREATER FLEXIBILITY IN TENANCY LAW UNDER NEW PLANS TO MODERNISE LEGISLATION AND BOOST PRODUCTIVITY, reports South East Farmer.  The government published its response to its consultation on agricultural tenancy law in England and confirmed that it will amended the AHA to make it fit for modern purpose.  This will enable tenant farmers to be more productive and have greater freedom in their business planning.  Tenants will also find it easier to apply for the future Environmental Land Management Scheme.   read more…

NEW PROJECTS TO HELP FARMERS AND LAND MANAGERS PREPARE FOR LIFE OUTSIDE CAP HAVE BEEN GIVEN THE GREEN LIGHT, reports South East Farmer.  Nine organisations have been awarded a share of the government’s £1m Future Farming Resilience Fund, which will support farmers as they prepare for the transition.  The seven-year transition will start in 2021 and see the current subsidy of direct payments phased out and replaced with a new system, designed to reward farmers for the “public goods” they provide, such as better air quality, improved access to the countryside and measures to reduce flooding.   read more…

 

We have been informed that the following events have been cancelled, or postponed:

Marden Fruit Show Society AGM (31st March)
RABI St George’s Day Beef Dinner (23rd April)
Canterbury Farmers Club General Meeting (26 April)
Open Farm Sunday (postponed until September)
In addition:
All GWCT events are postponed until further notice

ARE YOU WORRIED ABOUT CORONAVIRUS?

Do you need someone to talk to?
The Farming Community Network
Helpline: 03000 111 999
7am – 11pm, every day of the year
Available to anyone in the farming community
fcn.org.uk

DATES FOR YOUR DIARY:

20th March: Understanding Soil Health & Regenerative Agriculture
Farmers and landowners in the Stour River catchment are invited to attend this free event with guest speaker Niels Corfield.  As well as being an adviser, soil researcher and technician, Niels also carries out soil monitoring for PFLA across the UK.  The workshop will look at improving soil health, improving soil drainage and water holding, reducing reliance on external inputs, identifying opportunities for outwintering livestock, applying soil health principles to grow healthier crops and consistent yields, and getting feedback on farm. 

Kindly hosted by: Pent Farm, Postling, Kent CT21 4EY

9.30am to 3.30pm; lunch will be provided
For further information, please contact debbie.reynolds@kent.gov.uk / 03000 410 900
To register (booking is essential): https://regenerativeagricultureinthestourcatchment.eventbrite.co.uk

5th April: Romney Marsh Wools Open Day
There will be opportunity to meet the lambs, as well as to find out more and about the sheep and life on the farm.  There will be Kentish crafts, food and drink available on the day from specially selected producers, plus activities for children of all ages, including the chance to have your photo taken in a tractor.  There will be a cookery demo from Julie Friend, Master Chef 2009.  The sponsored charity will, once again, be RABI.

FREE Entry
11.00am to 3.00pm
Rushfield, Giggers Green Road, Aldington, Kent TN25 7BT
www.romneymarshwools.co.uk

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