TOM TUGENDHAT MP IS PETITIONING THE GOVERNMENT TO SUPPORT FARMERS DURING THE PANDEMIC, reports the Kent Messenger and Farming UK. 1000s of litres of milk are being thrown away as the bottom falls out of the restaurant and hospitality market. The UK liquid milk market is split equally between the retail and food service markets. The first two weeks of March saw retail demand for milk increase by 15-20%, but the food service market saw a 70% drop, meaning the increased demand on the one hand is not sufficient to offset the fall in demand on the other. The award-winning dairy farm, Winterdale Shaw, in Wrotham, near Sevenoaks, has had to pour 3,000l of milk down the drain, in a situation the owner describes as “heartbreaking.” Tugendhat has described the treatment of farmers as “appalling” and is now petitioning Defra to provide urgent support for dairy farmers.
THE PIG HOTEL IN CANTERBURY IS DELIVERING ITS PRODUCE TO NHS WORKERS, THE HIGH RISK AND THE VULNERABLE, reports the Countryside Alliance. The hotel’s kitchen gardens are doing drop offs to local elderly, vulnerable and NHS households. They are also delivering surplus produce to the Gorilla sanctuary at Howletts Wild Animal Park, which is currently shut to visitors. The 29 Western Lowland Gorillas, which the Aspinall Foundation intends to re-introduce to Central Africa, are now enjoying “gone over” parsnips, chard, celeriac and spring onions.
THE FOUNDER OF THE BAPCHILD FRUIT STALL HAS DIED OF CORONAVIRUS, reports the Kent Messenger. George Beaney, who set up the famous stall near Sittingbourne, died on Monday after spending a month at Medway Hospital. He set up the food store about 20 years ago.
THE EKC GROUP HAS TAKEN OVER HADLOW COLLEGE’S CANTERBURY CAMPUS, reports Kent Online. It follows a troubled period for Hadlow Group which went into educational administration last year and led to the departures of key management staff. But now the satellite campus has the support and security of the EKC Group, which already runs FE sites in Canterbury, Broadstairs, Dover, Folkestone, Ashford and Sheppey. The Hadlow site accommodates around 100 students and offers courses in agriculture, animal management, equestrian studies, horticulture and floristry.
THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE HAVE APPLIED TO PICK CROPS ON FARMS TO PLUG THE LABOUR SHORTAGES, reports the Daily Mail. More than 26,000 have answered a call to arms to “help feed the nation” by ensuring there are enough workers to pick fruit and veg before they go rotten. They were sought by three labour firms: Fruitful Jobs, HOPs and Concordia – who joined forces to drum up a sufficient workforce. The providers have been overwhelmed by the massive response. The British Growers Association says that 70,000 seasonal staff are needed each year. Furloughed staff have the right to seek work elsewhere during the shutdown as long as they have the permission of their main employer, are able to complete any training required of them while stood down, and can return to their normal job at any time. Consumers are also encouraged to visit the recently-launched On Your Doorstep website, which aims to put local businesses including bakeries and butchers in direct contact with consumers.
THERE IS A “RECORD DEMAND” FOR AGRICULTURAL JOBS IN THE UK, reports Farming UK and Farmers Weekly. The Times also records a story of a Bristol barman retraining as a farmworker. One recruitment site – TotalJobs – has witnessed an 83% spike in applications. The farming industry has been struggling to recruit the 80,000 seasonal workers it needs during harvest, but it could be set to benefit from new interest among UK workers. Candidates across all demographics are actively searching for farming jobs, including “fruit picker” and “farm worker.” A “Feed the National” labour campaign has already successfully signed up 10,000 British people to help pick fruit and veg on farms across the UK.
NATURAL ENGLAND HAVE ISSUED NEW GUIDANCE FOR FARMERS REGARDING FOOTPATHS DURING THE PANDEMIC, reports Farming UK. While the government agency says the risk of coronavirus being passed on to others from people using footpaths is “very low,” farmers have raised concerns. This follows a plea from a sheep farmer who said “every gate you touch, every stile you touch, if you have the virus you are giving it to a farmer.” The agency is encouraging the public to avoid using footpaths that run through farms or rural businesses “if possible,” but also added that farmers and landowners do not have the legal right to block or obstruct public rights of way. However, in “very limited circumstances” where large numbers are using such routes, landowners may consider: tying gates open; displaying temporary polite notices; offer alternative routes around gardens and farmyards.
THE GOVERNMENT HAS ISSUED SPECIFIC ADVICE FOR FARM BUSINESSES ON HOW TO OPERATE SAFELY DURING THE PANDEMIC, report Farming UK. Tailored advice has been released for different scenarios as an example of how social distancing and other measures may be implemented by employers. Where it is not possible to follow the guidelines, farms have been urged to consider whether that activity needs to continue for the business to operate. If a 2m distance cannot be maintained, staff should work side by side, or facing away from each other, rather than face to face. Vehicle windows should be kept open for ventilation, if the cab must be shared.
MASS TREE PLANTING IN THE UK COULD HARM THE ENVIRONMENT IF NOT PLANNED PROPERLY, reports the BBC. Badly-planned trees would actually increase greenhouse gas emissions – if they were planted into peat bogs for instance. Peat locks up vast quantities of carbon – but trees dry out the peat, which can release more greenhouse gases than the trees absorb. Instead of just planting trees, the mantra should be “the right tree in the right place.” There has been huge publicity for plans to plant 11m trees, but the report warns that conserving carbon in soils is equally, or perhaps even more important.
AS THE COUNTRY GOES UNDER LOCKDOWN, NATURE IS RECLAIMING THE HUMAN REALM, writes the Telegraph. Goats are marching through Llandudno, a herd of deer have pitched up in Romford, and threatened ground-nesting birds are breeding on empty beaches. The lack of traffic may well lead to the highest number of spawning toads in years. Moles have appeared on the campus of the University of East Anglia. The lack of human noise makes us more aware of birdsong. The lockdown has come at an ideal time for birds – in breeding season. But it is hard to quantify the boon to birds as conservationists are not allowed out to count the new nests. Botanists are also hoping that the lack of people, empty roads, and overzealous council grass-mowers might lead to an explosion in wild flowers, which might – in turn – help insects such as bees and butterflies. Astronomers have reported fantastically clear night skies recently as the combination of a high pressure weather system meats with a lack of aeroplanes and a reduction in light pollution.
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
Thousands of temporary workers are needed on British farms to help feed the nation during the coronavirus pandemic.
Jobs are available on fruit farms, arable farms, livestock farms and in pack houses – with workers also needed to fill other vacancies.
Follow @Kentslandarmy on Facebook for specific opportunities, or visit:
To apply, please visit: Hops Labour Solutions: https://hopslaboursolutions.com/
Concordia: www.concordiavolunteers.org.uk / 01273 422 218
Pro-Force Recruitment: https://pro-force.co.uk/ / 0333 335 6262
CDS Labour: http://cdslabour.co.uk/
British Summer Fruits: www.britishsummerfruits.co.uk/jobs / 020 7575 7654
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