4th September 2020


Rural Rap

AN ONLINE PLOUGHING MATCH HAS BEEN SET UP FOLLOWING THE CANCELLATION OF MANY UK MATCHES, reports Farming UK.  VPlough will provide a virtual contest which will enable ploughing enthusiasts to demonstrate their skills. Competitors will plough a piece of land near where they live and submit film or photograph of their work for judging.  VPlough is the brainchild of Karen Wheeler, the Secretary of the Weald of Kent Ploughing Match for 23 years.  The event will raise funds for air ambulance charities.  The website is now live and accepting entries, which will be judged and made available for public viewing on 26th September.   farminguk.com/news/virtual-ploughing-contest-to-go-ahead-amid-cancellations_56441.html

THE GOVERNMENT HAS THANKED FARMERS FOR FEEDING THE UK DURING THE PANDEMIC, reports Farming UK.  The video was posted on the UK Prime Minister Twitter and Facebook accounts at the weekend.  “Across the UK our farmers have united to feed and support all four nations…thank you to all our farmers and growers,” said the post.  The video went on to highlight how farmers and growers had to adapt to help the nation get through the pandemic.  “Together they have picked for Britain, replenished supermarket shelves, and together they have fed all four nations.”  The post has been watched by tens of thousands of people, with some urging others to buy British.  Back British Farming Day is on the 9th September.    farminguk.com/news/government-thanks-farmers-for-feeding-all-four-nations-_56432.html

TURKEY SUPPLIERS ARE PREDICTING A BUMPER CHRISTMAS AS CORONAVIRUS PREVENTS BRITS TRAVELLING ABROAD, reports the Grocer.  Last year 5m holidaymakers were abroad over Christmas and new year, but that number is expected to be a lot lower in 2020.  This could be good news for turkey producers, with in-home consumption of the meat expected to boom.  More “eating occasions” are forecast for this year, with more turkeys purchased for smaller occasions as people socially distance.  One turkey producer has already seen a 13% uptick in Christmas orders from independent butchers.   thegrocer.co.uk/eggs-and-poultry/turkey-suppliers-get-set-for-a-bumper-christmas-season/647831.article

WHILE THE POTATO CROP IS GOOD, PRICES ARE VERY LOW, reports the Farmers Guardian.  Many potatoes are in pretty good shape given the growing season that they have had, but growers will be less than impressed with the prices they are getting as Covid continues to dominate the market.  Most crops were planted in the wettest February ever, and then endured one of the driest springs on record.  That was followed by a heatwave and, finally, some summer rain to rescue them.  This has resulted in average yields, fears of blight and the prospect of a catchy harvest.  This is not being helped by prices, driven by major concern over demand.  Bagged chipping types are fetching less than half what they were a year ago.  While fresh potato demand remained well-sustained during lockdown, processed potato demand were down dramatically.   fginsight.com/news/potato-prices-weak-as-covid-19-fears-remain-111750

GROWERS ARE COUNTING THE COST OF THE BAD HARVEST, reports Farmers Guardian.  With the wet weather continuing, large areas of cereals remain to be harvested, providing a headache for farmers as they watch quality fall away, face heavy drying bills and contemplate the prospect of not being able to get following crops drilled in a timely manner.  It is estimated that just 50% of crops have been cut in the Yorkshire area, with 70% remaining in Durham/Northumberland.  Oilseed rape has performed poorly, but spring wheat has done remarkably well.  fginsight.com/news/harvest-2020-misery-continues-as-growers-count-the-cost-111732

ONE IN FOUR VICTIMS OF RURAL CRIME DID NOT BOTHER TO REPORT, reveals the Countryside Alliance.  The group’s 2020 Rural Crime Survey made for stark reading and has been described as a “wake-up call” for those who police and live in rural communities.  47% of those surveyed thought the police did not take rural crime seriously.  57% thought that rural policing has not improved since the introduction of Police and Crime Commissioners in 2012.  38% of those surveyed had fallen victim to crime in the previous 12 months – most commonly fly-tipping, machinery theft, trespass, wildlife crime and animal rights activism.  countryside-alliance.org/news/2020/9/one-in-four-not-reporting-crime-they-were-a-vi-1

MOST SHEEP FARMS ARE UNPROFITABLE WITHOUT SUBSIDIES BUT COULD MAKE A PROFIT IF THEY USE LAND FOR TREE PLANTING, reports the Telegraph.  Sheep farmers’ land will be more profitable as forest sold for carbon offsetting, than if used for wool or meat, a new study has found.  Most sheep farmers are losing an estimated £4,400 to £6,000 per ha in a 25 year period when labour costs are considered.  This is currently topped up by CAP, but researchers have found that if farmers left their land to allow native trees to return and then sold carbon offsets to businesses and individuals, they could actually turn a profit.  The government’s advisers have called for tree cover in the UK to increase from 13% to 17% to help sequester carbon emissions. The researchers were keen to stress that the findings didn’t suggest that sheep farming should be abandoned, but that they could inform decision-making about where reforestation occurs.  telegraph.co.uk/news/2020/09/02/let-sheep-farmers-grow-trees-sell-carbonoffsets-businesses-urge/


Do you farm near Bethersden and Pluckley?

The Upper Beult Farmer Cluster, a group of farmers who live and farm along the River Beult, is looking for new members.

It is free to join, and farmers can benefit from capital grants and money off ferric phosphate with Southern Water sponsorship.

Email mike.sims@cla.org.uk to get in touch.


KCC is seeking your views on spending priorities and the approach we should take to help us amend the 2020-21 budget.  The council is amending the budget due to additional spending and loss of income as a result of the pandemic. 
Responses will be considered by councillors at the full County Council meeting in September 2020. 
To contribute, please visit www.kent.gov.uk/budget 


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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