5th March 2021


Rural Rap

TWO KENT COMPANIES HAVE SCOOPED TOP NATIONAL AWARDS IN A COMPETITION DESIGNED TO CELEBRATE BUSINESSES IN RURAL AREAS, reports the Kent Messenger.  The Rural Business Awards highlight entrepreneurial spirit in the countryside, with this year’s event held in partnership with Amazon.  Oak Barn, Frame Farm in Benenden was named Best Sustainability and Environmental Impact Business.  It provides a setting for weddings, parties and events, and transformed redundant Grade II listed farm buildings into an energy efficient destination.  Romney Marsh Wools in Aldington was named Best Rural Creative or Artisan Business.  It uses its flock of sheep to produce wool for throws, cushions, hats, scarves and gifts.

24 INCIDENTS OF LIVESTOCK WORRYING WERE REPORTED IN THE LAST 3 MONTHS, reports Kent Police.  Officers from Kent Police’s Rural Task Force are urging dog walkers to keep their pets on a lead around livestock after more than 20 attacks were reported in four months.  Between 1 December 2020 and 2 March 2021, a total of 24 incidents were recorded where dogs have attacked sheep, cattle and other livestock.  The most recent incident was on 1st March in Loose, Maidstone.

THE BUDGET WILL BOTH HELP AND HIT FARMING OPERATIONS, reports Farmers Weekly.  Higher capital allowances for some, more Covid support, higher corporation tax, and the ability to carry back more losses are just some of the measures likely to impact rural businesses.  For companies only, the so-called “super deduction” tax relief offers the ability to offset 130% of investment in new plant and equipment in the year the spending occurs for the two years from 1st April.  Trading losses will now be able to be carried back for three years.  New recovery loans are being made available, backed by an 80% government guarantee.  There will be more self-employment grants and no immediate changes to IHT.  Furlough has been extended.  Among the various schemes to help diversified businesses, the business rates holiday for hospitality and tourism is extended to the end of June.

TAX ON ALCOHOLIC DRINKS WILL BE FROZEN FOR ONLY THE THIRD TIME IN 20 YEARS, report the Financial Times.  The move is designed to help the hospitality industry, and means that planned increases in duties for spirits, wine, cider and beer will all be cancelled.  The British Beer and Pub Association welcomed the decision.

THE REACTION TO THE BUDGET WAS, ON THE WHOLE, FAVOURABLE.  The NFU said that farm businesses can play a key role in the investment-led recovery that was set out in the Chancellor’s budget, noting that “the support offered to businesses by the government throughout the pandemic has been incredibly important in keeping many viable over the past year.”  The CLA said “the extension of the 5% VAT rate is a lifeline for many small tourism and hospitality businesses who have faced crippling consequences as a result of the pandemic…but the extension is a short term crisis response.”


FARMING BUSINESSES IMPACTED BY WASTE CRIME ARE BEING URGED TO AIR THEIR VIEWS VIA A NEW SURVEY, reports Farming UK.  The Environment Agency’s survey will assess how farmers and landowners are impacted by waste crime and how regulation can be used more effectively to combat it.  In particular, the agency wants to hear from farming businesses that have experienced significant inconvenience or financial implications.  In 2019/20, the agency prosecuted nearly 100 individuals and companies for waste crime offences, with fines exceeding £900k, 28 custodial sentences and £1m of confiscation orders.

FARMERS ARE BEING URGED TO SHARE EVIDENCE CONFIDENTIALLY OF THE REAL PREVALENCE OF HARE COURSING, reports Farming UK.  This comes amid fears the crime is significantly underreported.  The YAS has launched the survey in collaboration with the National Rural Crime Network, NFU and the CLA.  The ‘barbaric’ act of hare coursing continues to plague rural communities across the country.  In some cases, online betting is believed to fund these criminals who are linked with other serious organised crime in both rural and urban areas.  Anecdotal evidence suggests that some farmers do not report hare coursing due to a lack of confidence in police and the criminal justice system, while others hold back over fears for their family’s safety in case of reprisals.


This year BPS payments will start to be phased out in the lead up to Environmental Land Management (E.L.M.). One of the best ways to keep payments coming in and ensure you’re ready for E.L.M. is to apply for the Countryside Stewardship (CS) Scheme. Also, from April 2021-2024, a new Farming in Protected Landscapes scheme will provide financial support to farmers and other land managers in Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and National Parks.

Working with colleagues in the AONB and Natural England, FWAG will be able to provide free support to you through local 1:1 advice and local (online) workshops.

If you farm or manage land in the AONB and are interested in taking part for further details, please reply to Paul Cobb – it would be helpful if you could briefly confirm your areas of interest and providing very brief details of your farm or land management.

We will be running 3 local online workshops to discuss these opportunities with you on: Weds 3rd March at 5pm; Tuesday 9th March at 2 pm and Thursday 11th March at 5pm. To book on go to  https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/farming-in-the-kent-downs-aonb-opportunities-for-the-future-tickets-14147914292


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.


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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