10th December 2021


Rural Rap

15 SHEEP HAVE BEEN KILLED IN THREE SEPARATE DOG ATTACKS, reports the Kent Messenger, Kent Police and Farming UK.  In the first incident, the farmer saw a grey, scraggy haired dog, which looked similar to a lurcher, in amongst her sheep.  She chased the dog away, but six sheep died.  On Sunday a further seven sheep were found dead on a nearby farm, and then on Monday the first farm lost two more.  The cost of livestock worrying increased by over 10% to £1.3m during the pandemic, and the NSA shows a continued increase in attacks year on year.

KENT BIOSCIENTISTS HAVE SUCCESSFULLY USED GENE-EDITING TO CREATE FEMALE-ONLY AND MALE-ONLY MICE, reports Farming UK.  The breakthrough, by researchers at the Kent School of Bioscience, could have major implications for the egg industry.  Pressure has been growing on the sector for some time to end the culling of male chicks, which are culled at a day old because they are unsuitable for either egg or meat production.  The researchers say that they have been able to produce female-only or male-only offspring with a 100% success rate.

FLY TIPPING ON PUBLIC LAND INCREASED BY 16% ACROSS ENGLAND IN THE LAST YEAR, reports the CLA, the Countryside Alliance and Farming UK, among others.  Councils have dealt with 1.13 million fly-tipping incidents in the period.  65% of fly-tips involve household waste, with the most common size category begin a “small van load.” But these figures only account for waste dumped illegally on public land which has been reported to the authorities.  The CLA believes that these figures only tell half the story.  The vast majority of fly-tipping happens on private land, and one CLA member was so badly affected that they face a bill of over £100,000 to clear up one particularly shocking incident.  The number of court fines issued decreased by 51%, and the value of the fines fell 62%.

PEERS ARE BEING URGED TO BACK AMENDMENTS WHICH WOULD BETTER PROTECT FARMERS FROM ILLEGAL HARE COURSING, reports Farming UK and the CLA.  The amendments are included in the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill currently in the Lords, and would help to protect farms and rural communities from illegal and destructive hare coursing.  The proposals would enable police forces to recover the kennelling costs where dogs have been seized, enabling police to seize more dogs – which it is hoped would act as a deterrent to poachers.  Courts would also be able to ban offenders from having dogs and strengthen penalties by lifting the existing limit on fines.

THE “DISASTROUS” WAY IN WHICH PLASTIC IS USED IN FARMING IS THREATENING FOOD SAFETY AND POTENTIALLY HUMAN HEALTH, according to the UN’s FAO.  It says soils contain more microplastic pollution than the oceans and that there is “irrefutable” evidence of the need for better management of the millions of tonnes of plastics used in the food and farming system each year.  The FAO believes that most farming plastics are burned, buried or lost after use.  While the report recognises the benefits of plastic in producing and protecting food, from irrigation and silage bags to fishing gear and tree guards, it also says that the use of plastic has become pervasive and most were single-use.

TEMPORARY ON-FARM CAMPSITES HAVE GIVEN THE RURAL ECONOMY A MAJOR BOOST, reports Farming UK.  Figures suggests that the UK’s temporary campsites have generated over £25m in the last year.  Even the “poorer” rural areas such as Staffordshire, Lincolnshire and Herefordshire, which usually lose out to more popular destinations such as the Lake District and West Country, have shared in the windfall.  £9.8m was generated through pitch fees alone, with an extra £2.9m being spent with campsite owners on firewood and farm produce.  But the lion’s share of the money was spent in local rural businesses such as pubs, shops and restaurants.

FARM SHOPS ACROSS THE COUNTRY ARE SEEING HIGHER VISITOR NUMBERS, reports Farming UK.  The public say they want to support local businesses this Christmas following the pandemic, and consequently are flocking to rural retailers for their festive goods.  Starved of contact after the pandemic, 90% of shoppers say friendly service is the main reason they will use farm shops.  80% are doing so in order to support local businesses and the rural economy.  70% believe that farms offer fresher, better quality produce.  Two thirds say that the food is from a sustainable source with fewer food miles.

EVENT - Coexisting with BEAVERS: by landowners, for landowners

It is likely that more and more of us will soon be living alongside beavers.  Kent already has a small population of beavers and it seems likely that, following the national consultation, government policy will allow for more releases into enclosures and the wild.

Three short talks from landowners in Cornwall, Essex and Devon who have beavers on their land, followed by a panel Q&A.  The talks will highlight the challenges, benefits and opportunities of coexisting with beavers.

This event is suitable for landowners, land managers, land agents and others in similar roles.

The Spitfire Cricket Ground
Old Dover Road
Canterbury CT1 3NZ

Date & Time:
Monday 20 December 2021
16.30 to 20.30

Three short talks followed by Q&A
Buffet afterwards with the change for further networking and discussion

NB: A livestream via Zoom will also be available.

More info and to book the event is here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/coexisting-with-beavers-talk-and-qa-by-landowners-for-landowners-tickets-214527095317

Food Loop

…is seeking 50 businesses and organisations across Kent and Medway to become a FoodLoop Champion.

FoodLoop is a B2B app, connecting Kent food busineses that have surplus food – such as growers, secondary producers, manufacturers, wholesalers, retailers and hospitality businesses – with Kent “takers” of surplus food – such as producers, food production companies, social supermarkets, gleanng groups, food banks and other community initiatives.  It aims to reduce food waste, put more surplus fresh food on the table, and help to build Kent’s community.

It is now looking for Food Loop Champions to donate £500 to the cause. 

In exchange, donors receive a Food Loop Champion logo to use on marketing materials, a mention on all FoodLoop promoitional materials, and a ticket to the inaugural dinner of Kent FoodLoop Champions.

To enable the development of the app and to run a 12 month project to build the community, the enterprise needs £43,000.  It has already raised £19,000 through various routes including crowdfunding.

For further information, contact: floortje.hoette@producedinkent.co.uk

AONB KENT DOWNS : Grants for farmers, land managers and landowners

Applications are now open for the Farming in Protected Landscapes programme (link)

The three year scheme aims to fund outcomes for People, Place, Climate and Nature in the Kent Downs.  It is possible to apply for more than one year.  Applications can range from £250k, to no miminum.  Funding can be up to 100%, but value for money is part of the assessment criteria.

Applicants will be supported to carry out projects that:

  • Provide opportunities for people to discover, enjoy and understand the landscape and cultural heritage
  • Support nature-friendly, sustainable farm businesses
  • Mitigate the impacts of climate change
  • Support nature recovery


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

To receive the Rural Rap direct to your inbox please contact info@ruralplc.com