9th October 2020


Rural Rap

THIS YEAR IS THE FIRST FULL HARVEST FOR MEREWORTH WINES, reports the Kent Messenger.  The vineyards were planted in 2016 by Will Boscawen who left behind a career in finance in Hong Kong to do so.  As he began loading his first batches of pinot noir grapes to be pressed into wine he was feeling confident.  He described it as “like having a baby…you think at the time this is the dumbest thing I’ve ever done, and then a year later you think ‘let’s do it again.’” This year the vines will produce some 30,000 bottles of wine.   kentonline.co.uk/whats-on/news/winemakers-mark-first-full-harvest-235165/

SHEPHERD NEAME IS BRACED FOR A “CHALLENING WINTER” AS A RESULT OF INCREASED RESTRICTIONS ON THE HOSPITALITY INDUSTRY, warns the Kent Messenger.  The Faversham firm said the Rule of Six, the 10pm curfew and wobbling public confidence was likely to trigger a tricky few months.  It has already warned that job losses across its estate are inevitable.  While nearly all of its pubs have reopened since lockdown, its London pubs have only recently done so.  It said that in the 13 weeks since 4 July when pubs were allowed to reopen, the business has been profitable and cash generative.  kentonline.co.uk/kent-business/county-news/brewery-braced-for-challenging-winter-months-235158/

GREAT CRESTED NEWT ARE MAKING A COMEBACK IN KENT, reports the Kentish Stour Countryside Partnership.  The KSCP has been helping one of our most threatened amphibians since 2018 and, in doing so, has been restoring and creating large ponds.  The project, which is 100% funded by Natural England, started water sampling this summer at 76 ponds across the county.  The very promising lab test results showed that 38% were positive for GCN – against a cautious forecast that 16% would be colonised.  The pond work is vital as approximately 50% of ponds in the UK were lost last century, with 80% of those remaining being in a poor state.   For further details: kentishstour.org.uk

THE GOVERNMENT FACES A REBELLION FOR REFUSING TO ALLOW INDEPENDENT EXPERTS TO SCRUTINISE THE IMPACT ON FOOD STANDARDS OF FUTURE TRADE DEALS, reports the Times.  Members of the government’s trade & ag commission are preparing to call for a new permanent body to be set up to assess the environmental and health impacts of agreements before they can be ratified.  Liz Truss has repeatedly opposed the establishment of such a body and the government is planning to whip Tory MPs to oppose the move.  The body would provide evidence to Parliament on the effects of such deals on the farming sector and whether they would open the door to imports that did not meet current UK standards in areas such as antibiotic or animal welfare.  thetimes.co.uk/edition/news/trade-deals-must-not-damage-food-standards-experts-warn-8nvq2rr2r

THERE IS NO PUBLIC APPETITE FOR LOWER FOOD SAFETY OR ANIMAL WELFARE STANDARDS, argues the Times.  The return of the Ag Bill to the Commons next week is shaping up to be a crucial moment for the future of Britain’s post-Brexit trade policy.  Last month the Lords inserted two amendments into the Bill that will make it harder for foreign farmers to access British markets – notably the need for food imports to match British animal welfare and environmental standards, and to give grater powers to a new trade and agriculture commission.  If the government’s trade policy is to command public support it is essential that changes to standards are made transparently.  Its current stance risks undermining the government’s negotiating hand by making it harder to resist concessions.  thetimes.co.uk/edition/comment/the-times-view-on-brexit-trade-policy-food-fight-skphnpkqf

FARMERS ARE BEING INVITED TO APPLY FOR GRANTS WORTH £25M TO BOOST ON-FARM PRODUCTIVITY, reports Farming UK.  The third and final round of the Government’s CPSG scheme is now open for applications.  Farmers can apply for grants of between £3k and £12k to buy equipment such as livestock monitoring cameras and precision farming technology.  To date, £35m has been allocated to farmers in the scheme’s first two funding rounds, with the final round bringing the total funding available to £60m.  Farmers have until 4 November to make an application to the RPA.  farminguk.com/news/third-and-final-round-of-small-grants-scheme-opens_56698.html

THE UK’S FIRST LARGE-SCALE FARM BREEDING INSECTS FOR ANIMAL FEED HAS MOVED A STEP CLOSER, reports the Guardian.  The new facility, while breeds insects for animal feed and pet food, has received government backing with a £10m funding package.  It will be built by Entocycle, which will use it to raise black soldier flies fed on food waste to create sustainable insect protein.  The company currently feeds local food waste – traditionally surplus fruit and veg – to the insects.   theguardian.com/environment/2020/oct/06/insect-farm-supply-sustainable-animal-feed-wins-10m-london


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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