4th March 2022


Rural Rap

THE KENT COUNTY AGRICULTURAL SOCIETY HAS WELCOMED JULIAN BARNES AS ITS NEW CHAIRMAN.  The Society elected Julian at the recent AGM and gave thanks to James Forknall for his dedicated three year service in the position, through such a difficult period.  Julian runs Biddenden Vineyards alongside his wife, Sally, and third generation sons, Tom, Sam and Will.  They are past winners of the English Wine of the Year competition and Camra Cider of the Year.  He is former Chairman of English Wine Producers and Ashford and Tenterden Tourist Association.  He has also been on the Board of Produced in Kent and was voted Kent Food and Drink Hero 2016 by Kent Life.  Jan Loraine will be the Society’s new Vice-Chair.

FARMERS HAVE SEEN A SURGE IN THEFT OF QUAD BIKES AS CRIMINALS CASH IN ON HIGH DEMAND, reports Farming UK and Farmers Guardian.  Kent was the second most targeted county in the UK for quad theft last year and, theft claims data suggests that criminal gangs are ramping up their efforts.  Global supply chain problems, shipping delays and the impact of Covid and Brexit have contributed to waiting lsits for new quads and increased demand for second-hand kit.

FARMS HAVE BEEN SETTING UP DONATION SITES IN RESPONSE TO DEEP CONCERN FOR THE PEOPLE OF UKRAINE, reports Farming UK.  Farms and estates across the UK have been turning their conference rooms and other buildings over to become hubs where people can donate supplies, such as blankets, coats and other warm clothes, nappies, canned food, and sleeping bags.

GOVERNMENT FOCUS ON FOOD SECURITY SHOULD BE OF “CRITICAL IMPORTANCE” IN TIMES OF WAR, reports Farming UK.  Copa and Cogeca, the EU’s farming organisation, expressed its solidarity with the Ukrainian people.  In times of war, the group said, the focus on food security becomes critical, and it is “essential” to take steps to ensure that food supplies continue reaching those most affected, in the Ukraine and globally.  It also noted that “agriculture is a central pillar of our strategic autonomy.  EU decision makers must act decisively and swiftly to preserve it.”

AGRICULTURE BUDGETS FOR THE YEAR AHEAD HAVE BEEN THROWN INTO TURMOIL BY THE TRAGIC EVENTS UNFOLDING IN UKRAINE, reports Farmers Weekly and the Farmers Guardian.  Grain prices have surged again this week, with London May 2022 wheat futures hitting a record £285/t on Wednesday – cf. £220/t mid-February.  Globally, wheat stocks are already dangerously low, and news that the 19m tonnes of wheat and 17m tonnes of maize that were due to be shipped from Russia and Ukraine cannot now be traded is adding to the upward pressure.  But input values have also soared, squeezing potential margin gains.  Fertiliser has been driven up as Russia and Ukraine are key providers of ammonia.  Fuel prices are also climbing rapidly, with brent crude hitting 9-year highs.

NEWS THAT CASH SET ASIDE FOR THE FARM EQUIPMENT AND TECHNOLOGY FUND IS TO BE TREBLED HAS BEEN WELCOMED, reports Farmers Guardian.  The FETF will be boosted from £17m to £48.5m after the scheme was deluged with interest in January.  5,624 eligible applications were received, worth a total overall value of over £53.5m, triple the initial budget allocation.  Defra is now in a position to award 4,376 FETF agreements.  The FETF offers grants of between £2k and £25k for projects such as precision cameras, slurry management and a range of robotic equipment.

FARMERS AND GROWERS CAN APPLY FOR UP TO £7,725 A YEAR TO HELP EDUCATE CHILDREN, reports Farming UK.  The Countryside Stewardship provides financial incentives for farmers to look after and improve the environment.  In the past, only “higher tier” applicants could access funding for educational visits, but this was opened up to mid-tier applicants too.  Farmers can access £309 per farm visit, hosting up to 25 visits a year.

RABI IS PROVIDING EMERGENCY GRANTS FOR FARMERS SEVERELY AFFECTED BY THE RECENT STORMS, reports RABI and Farming UK.  Emergency grants of £1,000 are available to provide financial support. Grants can be accessed across the farming community by making an initial call to RABI’s 24/7 helpline on 0800 188 4444.  Applications will be fast-tracked using a simple application process to ensure monies are available fast.

UK’s FARM SHOPS GENERATE £1.4BN IN SALES AND EMPLOY 25,000 WORKERS, reports Farming UK.  The first substantial survey of the sector was published this week.  There are an estimated 1,581 farm retailers nationally, employing 25,000 people, with sales of £1.4bn.  64% of farm shops expect sales to increase further this year, and a third of those businesses have opened in the last decade.  The greatest challenge facing farm retailers is attracting talent or skilled staff.

AONB KENT DOWNS : Grants for farmers, land managers and landowners

Applications are now open for the Farming in Protected Landscapes programme (link)

The three year scheme aims to fund outcomes for People, Place, Climate and Nature in the Kent Downs.  It is possible to apply for more than one year.  Applications can range from £250k, to no miminum.  Funding can be up to 100%, but value for money is part of the assessment criteria.

Applicants will be supported to carry out projects that:

  • Provide opportunities for people to discover, enjoy and understand the landscape and cultural heritage
  • Support nature-friendly, sustainable farm businesses
  • Mitigate the impacts of climate change
  • Support nature recovery


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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