4th June 2021


Rural Rap

ONE OF THE UK’S LARGEST FRUIT GROWERS HAS BEEN VISITED BY A GOVERNMENT TRADE MINISTER AHEAD OF TALKS FOR A FREE-TRADE DEAL WITH INDIA, reports Kent Online.  Goathams, which grows a third of Britain’s apples and pears each year, hosted Ranil Jayawardena MP, the country’s minister for international trade.  He said that exporting to India would provide a huge boost for suppliers and businesses in Britain.  A 14-week consultation is underway before negotiations start.  If successful, the deal would allow companies to export goods tariff-free.

UK LAND IN CONVERSION TO ORGANIC INCREASED BY NEARLY 12% LAST YEAR, reports Farming UK.  The 2020 statistics show an increase in certified organic land in conversion.  Organic arable farming saw a 7% increase in 2020.  Organic production comes from fully converted land.  Before an area can be considered as fully organic, it is “in-conversion.”  The UK organic market is now worth £2.79bn.

FARM INCOMES IN THE UK FELL TO THEIR LOWEST LEVEL SINCE 2007, reports Farming UK.  Extreme weather and the pandemic have been blamed for a sharp drop in this year’s total agricultural income.  TIFF was estimated to be £4.1bn in 2020, a fall of £768m (-15.7%) from 2019.  The main drivers were a 10% (£1bn) fall in the value of crop output, and a 20% (£310m) fall in the value of diversified activities.

HIGHER PAYMENT RATES AND THE ASSISTANCE OF SKILLED ADVISERS WILL BE REQIRED TO MAKE THE ELM A SUCCESS, reports Farmers Weekly.  One of the national test and trials for ELMs in 2020 has now reported its findings.  The partnership of Exmoor National Park Authority and the Exmoor Hill Farming Network enabled a cross-section of different holding types, sizes and locations to be included in the trial, totalling 26 farms.  The main topics on which the group focused were natural capital and how it can be quantified, spacial prioritisation and payment levels.  88% of respondents to a survey said they expect to need the services of an adviser to help complete their ELM plan, while only 50% knew where to get this advice.

ANTIBIOTIC USE IN GAME REARING FELL 42% LAST YEAR, reports the Countryside Alliance.  The sector has reduced its overall antibiotic use by 70% since 2016, revealing the extent to which the shooting industry can evolve and embrace effective self-regulation.  While further work continues to be required, evidence of HP-CIAs fell 62% since 2019 and over 66% since 2016.  It should be noted though that there was a 25-35% fall in the number of gamebirds reared and released in 2020 due to Covid, and this may account for some of the figures.

THE TELEGRAPH’S WEATHER WATCHER REPORTS ON HOW CLIMATE CHANGE IS SENDING OUR SEASONS HAYWIRE.  Traditionally winter saw geese feeding in a stubble field while dormice hibernated; spring saw gambolling lambs and boxing hares; summer was hallmaked by screaming swifts, sunbathing adders and blooming wildflowers.  “Yet today what to look for in any one season is increasingly anyone’s guess.”  In recent years, swallows have been spotted in February, with some even over-wintering in the southern reaches of the country.


Farmers in the Darent Valley are seeking a FARMER CLUSTER OFFICER to help steer them through a changing agricultural and environmental landscape. The new position will convene meetings, coordinate action across multiple farms and help develop local priorities in line with the needs of the farmers and for a thriving Darent river. This is an exciting opportunity to work at the forefront of a new chapter in agriculture and conservation.

The post is hosted jointly by the Kent Wildlife Trust and the Kent Downs AONB unit, to ensure an integrated approach.  For further information, and to apply: kentwildlifetrust.org.uk/jobs/farmer-cluster-officer-darent-valley

Closing date: Friday 25th June

VITI-CULTURE LIVE! - 10th June 2021 - Plumpton College, East Sussex BN7 3AE

Viti-Culture provides a showcase for interested and prospective growers to speak to experts about any aspect of wine production.  Exhibitors range from vineyard consultants to land agents, specialist machinery manufacturers and dealer, winery equipment suppliers, agronomists, brand and packaging specialists, and professional service providers.  There will be a full itinerary of seminars throughout the day.  The headline seminar will be led by Richard Bampfield MW.
A preview is available here: en.calameo.com/read/006506517eace26cc4e19


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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