6th August 2021


Rural Rap

FAMILY BUSINESS BARDSLEY SELLS UP TO AIM-LISTED CAMELLIA, reports the Telegraph and Kent Messenger.  The Kent family business, which has grown into Britain’s second biggest apple supplier, has sold up for £15.7m after harvesting pandemic losses.  Staplehurst-based Bardsley produces around 18,000 tonnes of fruit a year, including 90m apples for major supermarkets, as well as pears, cherries, plums and grapes.  The sale will ease financial pressure on the business, which generated £22.4m in sales in the year to March, but post a pre-tax loss of £1.7m.  The company, which employs 550 staff during the peak picking season, has invested heavily in agricultural technology.

A FLOOD OF SWEET CHERRIES IS SET TO HIT SUPERMARKET SHELVES AFTER RECENT HOT WEATHER LED TO A BUMPER CROP, reports the BBC and Kent Online.  A cold and rainy spring had threatened this year’s output but growers are now celebrating a massive yield.  Tesco has taken on an extra 115 tonnes of the fruit to avoid them going to waste.  The bulk of the sudden rush has come from Kent, the UK’s main cherry-growing area.  This year’s British cherry harvest is expected to be double that of 2018, at just over 6000 tonnes.

KENT IS ONE OF THE UK’S WORST HIT AREAS FOR RURAL CRIME, reports the Kent Messenger.  Highly-organised criminals continue to plague the Kent countryside, stealing expensive equipment, trespassing on private land and regularly fly-tipping tons of rubbish.  One Gravesend farmer described it as a “sorry state of affairs” and claimed that every single farmer in his area had been impacted in the last six months.  GPS systems are a commonly stolen item as the small devices often cost tens of thousands of pounds.  NFU Mutual stressed that “it’s not just the financial impact, it’s the mental impact and it is incredibly distressing.”  However, despite this, the overall cost of rural theft in Kent fell by 25% to £1.367m last year.

CRIMESTOPPERS HAS LAUNCHED A FOUR-WEEK CAMPAIGN TO RAISE AWARENESS OF RURAL CRIME, reports Crime Stoppers and the Countryside Alliance.  Crimestoppers has worked with Mitie and Neighbourhood Watch, and is supported by a lengthy and broad coalition of rural agencies including both the Countryside Alliance and the RSPCA.  Around 75% of people in rural communities are aware of criminal activity, with 10% feeling unsafe in their own home after dark.  Rural crime cost an estimated £43.3m in 2020.  Crimestoppers has an anonymous phone number for who have information on rural crime : 0800 555 111.

DESPITE A 20% FALL IN RURAL CRIME COSTS DURING THE PANDEMIC, THIEVES RETURNED TO UK FARMYARDS WITH NEW TACTICS AND TARGETS, reports the Farmers Guardian.  The costs of agricultural vehicle thefts fell 2% to £9.1m, with criminals getting more “bang of their buck” by focusing on smaller, high-value items such as GPS amounting to £2.9m, almost twice last year’s figure.  Quad bike and ATV thefts fell 18% and livestock theft costs fell 25%.  But 2020 saw a 10.2% rise in the toll of dog attacks on farm animals.

RAIN HAS HAMPERED HARVEST PROGRESS THIS WEEK, BUT CROPS ARE STILL PERFORMING BETTER THAN EXPECTED IN MOST PLACES, reports Farmers Weekly.  Harvest in Kent is about three weeks behind normal.  John Smith, MD at the Weald Granary, is expecting a busy August, with wheat, barley, OSR and other crops all to be cut at the same time.  His store has already taken in 3,000t of winter barley, and yields are reportedly about average.  Oil contents of OSR are lower than usual, average 40-42%.  Kent’s farmers have also been cutting winter wheat and peas, as well as winter linseed, with early yields much as expected.


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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