29th January 2021


Rural Rap

PLANS TO OPEN A 26-MILE COASTAL PATH BETWEEN WHITSTABLE AND IWADE HAVE BEEN GIVEN THE GO-AHEAD, reports the Kent Messenger.  The continuous, “easy to follow” route forms part of Natural England’s aim to improve access along the country’s shoreline.  Work is now underway to prepare the stretch for public use, which will run through Whitstable, Nagden, Hollowshore, Little Murston and Ridham Docks.  The owners and occupiers of the affected land will be contacted and new access rights will come into force once preparations are complete.

THE LION’S SHARE OF A £14M INVESTMENT IN NEW PORT HEALTH ROLES WILL GO TO ASHFORD BOROUGH COUNCIL, reports Farming UK. Over 500 new port health roles are being created to enable checks on imports of animal products from the EU.  Funding worth £14m has been issued to local authorities to play their part in maintaining the UK’s high standards on imported animal products.  The new checks will be introduced in a phased way, with documentary checks on animal products for human consumption beginning in April.  The new checks aim to safeguard public, animal and plant health.  Ashford Borough Council is receiving £8.8m, the largest share of the investment, and will carry out an estimated 124,000 checks on imports a year at Sevington Inland Border Facility.

FOOD AND FARMING BUSINESSES WITH OVER 50 EMPLOYEES CAN NOW RECEIVE RAPID ASYMPTOMATIC WORKPLACE TESTING, reports Farming UK.  Dera has announced that the government-funded lateral flow tests for asymptomatic workers will be available from 31 March.  The free tests allow weekly testing of workers who are unable to work from home.  The NFU has welcomed the news.  Food and farming businesses with over 50 employees who would like more information, should contact: p-and-psector@dhsc.gov.uk.

FARM ANIMALS WORTH £2.3M WERE STOLEN FROM UK FARMS LAST YEAR, reports Farming UK.  Overall, livestock rustling remains on the of the most costly crimes for British farmers after vehicle and machinery theft.  Although the pandemic saw the cost of rustling decrease by a quarter, farmers are still urged to remain vigilant.  The decrease is partly attributed to the lockdown restrictions which would have made such a crime easier to detect, but is also a sign that tougher police enforcement is starting to take effect.

MPs ARE TO SCRUTINISE THE POTENTIAL LIVE EXPORT BAN, reports Farming UK.  MPs have launched an inquiry seeking to understand how a potential ban on exporting live animals for fattening and slaughter would impact farmers.  Plans to ban exports of live animals for slaughter were unveiled by Defra last month despite longstanding concerns by the livestock sector.  George Eustice said the controversial ban could be in force by the end of the year.  EFRA has launched an inquiry to assess its potential impact on farmers, as well as considering potential improvements for animal health and welfare.  The movement of horses, ponies and donkeys for breeding and racing will also be considered.


RSPB GREAT GARDEN BIRDWATCH: 29-31st January.  To take part, spend one hour counting the birds you see in your garden.

BIG FARMLAND BIRD COUNT: 5-14TH February.  To take part, spend 30 minutes recording the species and number of birds seen on one particular area of your farm.  Somewhere with a good view of around 2ha is ideal.


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.


Michael Bax, chair of the Kent Police Rural Crime Advisory Group, received a number of enquiries after lockdown seeking clarification as to how shoots could manage the unsustainable residual number of birds on the ground following the loss of much of the 2020/21 shooting season.  There are a number of considerations:

1. a massive welfare issue
2. disease potential
3. crop damage as birds forage beyond their normal range

Kent Police engaged immediately and are still consulting.  Below is his summary of the advice to date:

– Lockdown guidance indicates that people can leave home and meet in groups for work purposes.  That only applies for paid employment.  Accordingly, culling, pest control or other land management operations appear to be permissable as long as participants follow the “Working Safely During Covid” guidance.

– In summary therefore, the need to control the bird population is understood, but this should be done by paid employment.  It is stressed that it would be against the spirit of the guidance to allow groups to gather to shoot on a voluntary basis, as that could and would be perceived as shooting parties via the backdoor.

– Accordingly, it is for shoots to organise keepers and other paid employees to conduct the necessary management

Beyond that, we all have a legal and moral obligation to stay at home, undertake no unnecessary travel, and control this dreadful disease.


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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