31st January 2020


Rural Rap

STATISTIC OF THE WEEK: Kent has over 4,400 miles of public footpaths, bridleways and byways, providing free access to the Garden of England.

Hoads Farm denies allegations of unacceptable welfare standards
Crackdown on lorries on Kent’s rural roads to be trialled
Ultrafast broadband coming to 26 towns and villages
Appeal against coastal path which tears through farm
Keeping it frâiche

‘Don’t fall foul’: EU regulations still apply after 31 January
UK farming can become “envy of the world,” industry figures say
Hundreds of farmers to attend London rally in March

Food waste falls by 7% per person in three years
Fund worth over £1m to help tackle food waste

How farmers can get involved

A LOCAL FARM HAS DENIED ALLEGATIONS OF UNACCEPTABLE WELFARE STANDARDS, reports Kent Online and Farming UK, among others.  Hoads Farm, just across the Kent border into East Sussex, was occupied by 150 animal rights campaigners from Direct Action Everywhere earlier this week.  The campaigners claim to have exposed unsanitary conditions which led the RSPCA to suspend the farm from its Assured scheme.  A spokesman has now stated though that the RSPCA has carried out a further inspection which reports the hens as being “in good health and with good feather cover.”  Furthermore, the farm invited a fully qualified poultry vet to the farm who confirmed that, apart from the consequences of the protesters’ actions, there were no concerns.  DEFRA has also inspected and identified no issues.  Hoads Farm is the fourth farm in the vicinity to be targeted by activists, leading to concerns of a targeted campaign.  While the inspections and investigations were ongoing, Tesco and Sainsbury’s pulled Hoads Farm eggs from their shelves across Kent.

A CRACKDOWN ON LORRY DRIVERS TRAVELLING ON KENT’S RURAL ROADS AND VILLAGES COULD BE ENFORCED BY KCC, reports Kent Online.  As the UK’s gateway to Europe, KCC says hundreds of foreign lorry drivers travel on “unsustainable” routes away from their prescribed journey on motorways and major roads.  Consequently, the local highways authority plans to implement a trial area to the south of Maidstone, where lorries will be restricted.  Those who disobey the rules will be fined.  Queries have been raised about the enforceability of the scheme, despite its premise being broadly welcomed.

ULTRAFAST BROADBAND IS ON ITS WAY TO 26 TOWNS AND VILLAGES ACROSS KENT, reports the Kent Mesenger.  Openreach has announced a programme to introduce the technology to “harder to reach” areas of the UK that have been dogged by slow speeds.  IT means that the full FTTP network will be available in rural areas, including Tenterden, Deal, Sandwich, Faversham, Sheerness and Sevenoaks.   An Ashford councillor, who is also a digital economy specialist, said that this is “the equivalent to being handed the keys to a Porsche after driving a third-hand car.”  Openreach estimates that this could bring an £8.7bn boost to the region’s economy and bring 65,000 people back to work by giving small businesses and entrepreneurs the tools to thrive.

A KENT FARMER HAS BRANDED A NEW COASTAL PATHWAY A “SHOCKING WASTE OF PUBLIC MONEY,” reports the Farmers Guardian.  Harry Mouland is appealing against Natural England’s decision to introduce a new coastal pathway through his farm when one already exists.  The proposed route would see public access granted to a path running through 100ha of his arable farmland in Halstow.  He points to the Saxon Shore Way, which already creates 160 miles of coastal path in Kent.  The original path opens up routes from Gravesend to Hastings, causing minimal disturbance to landowners, habitats, the environment and rare wildlife, yet 40 years down the line, this footpath is no longer “good enough.”  He also argues that for more than half of the proposed path, “you cannot see the coast, let alone the sea.”

THE FAMILY RUN DAIRY AND PROCESSING FACILITIES AT HINXDEN FARM HAVE COME ALONG WAY SINCE THE 1950s, reports South East Farmer.  In the 1950s, half a dozen Guernsey cows arrived and John, Winifred and Thomasine Manford started delivering one-pint glass bottles of untreated milk to friends and neighbours.  It was not until 1984, when milk quotas were rolled out, that the family decided to diversify.  Unable to purchase more quota, the family went into processing and producing quality gold top milk and cream, as well as silver top.  This paved the way for double, single and whipping cream sales, natural and flavoured yoghurts, crème fraiche, and cheese.

FARMERS ARE BEING REMINDED THAT EU REGULATIONS WILL CONTINUE TO APPLY FOR THE TIME BEING, reports Farming UK.  Farmers might be tempted to think that the rules and regulations will be thrown out of the window from 1st February, but this is not the case.  Believing this might bring severe complications and consequences for farmers and land managers.  The UK will still be linked to the EU as the transition period gets underway, which means little will change in practical terms and ALL rules will still apply.

A GROUP OF 60 FARMING, HEALTH AND ENVIRONMENTAL ORGANISATIONS HAVE CO-SIGNED AN OPEN NFU LETTER TO THE PRIME MINISTER, reports the CLA and NFU, among others.  The letter calls on Boris Johnson to commit to upholding British food and farming standards post-Brexit.  All the groups agree that Brexit provides an opportunity to foster a sustainable, carbon neutral model of farming in the UK, building on our reputation for high quality, safe and affordable food.  While the letter admits to differences in opinion in how to achieve that vision, it claims that “we are all agreed that without the right domestic policy, supported by a progressive and ambitious trade policy, none of us will realise this shared vision.”

HUNDREDS OF FARMERS WILL DESCEND ON LONDON IN MARCH TO URGE THE GOVERNMENT TO BACK BRITISH FARMING, reports Farming UK.  Farmers from across the country will gather in the capital to join the NFU in a rallying call to the government as post-Brexit trade negotiations begin.  The aim of the rally is to underline how any future UK trade policy should not allow imports of food produced to standards that would be illegal in the UK.  The event will take place on 25th March at the QE2 Centre in Westminster.

THE UK HAS REDUCED FOOD WASTE BY ALMOST HALF A MILLION TONNES IN JUST THREE YEARS, reports Farming UK and the NFU.  The amount, which is enough to fill the Royal Albert Hall ten times, has also saved citizens over £1bn per year compared to 2015.  The volume of food still wasted equates to 10bn meals.  This 4.5m tonnes of food that could have been eaten- worth an estimated £14bn each year – or £700 for the average family.  The new figures also show a 4% reduction in waste in the supply chain, demonstrating good overall progress from businesses.

GOVERNMENT FUNDING WORTH £1.15M HAS BEEN ANNOUNCED TO TACKLE FOOD WASTE, reports Farming UK.  Businesses will benefit from the fund to help come up with new ways to tackle food waste by changing people’s behaviour or transforming it into other materials.  Grants will be available for creative solutions.  The grants are the latest step towards reducing food waste in the UK by 20% by 2025.

THE BIG FARMLAND BIRD COUNT IS A FANTASTIC OPPORTUNITY FOR FARMERS TO UNITE AND DEMONSTRATE THE GREAT CONSERVATION WORK THEY DO, reports Farmers Weekly.  Sponsored by the NFU, and organised by the GWCT, the count will take place from 7-16 February.  Organisers say there has never been a more important time to take part.  Farmers are under fire from anti-meat groups and environmental campaigners, but the count offers the chance to highlight the positive effect agri-environment schemes are having on bird numbers.  Last year more than 1,400 farmers took part and over 30 endangered bird species were among the 140 spotted, including fieldfares, starlings, house sparrows and yellowhammers.
To participate: on any day between 7-16 February, spend 30 minutes recording the species and number of birds seen on one particular part of your farm – ideally somewhere with a good view of about 2ha and at first light.   Results can then be submitted at bfbc.org.uk/ or sent to GWCT, Burgate Manor, Fordingbridge, Hampshire SP6 1EF.

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


7-16th February: Big Farmland Bird Count
Organised by the GWCT, the BFBC is a fantastic opportunity for farmers to unite and demonstrate the great conservation work that they do.
On any day between 7 & 16 February, spend 30 minutes recording the species and number of birds seen on one particular part of your firm – ideally somewhere with a good view of about 2ha and at first light.  Results can then be submitted submitted at https://www.bfbc.org.uk/ or sent to GWCT, Burgate Manor, Fordingbridge, Hampshire SP6 1EF.
For further information, please visit: https://www.bfbc.org.uk/

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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