12th March 2021


Rural Rap

THANET EARTH HAS REPORTED POOR FIGURES FOR 2019-20, BUT SIGNALS THAT THIS YEAR WILL BE “MORE POSITIVE,” reports the Grocer.  The firm, which is owned by Fresca, endured a pre-tax loss of £1.48m in the year to 24 April 2020, up 84% on the previous year.  Sales also fell back 7% after what it described as a “short term issue with specific contracts” during the accounting period.  The MD said that one of its glasshouses had suffered from the tomato brown rugose fruit virus, an uninsurable problem which resulted in a one-off loss of its own production, alongside the extensive clean up costs.  However, the business is now seeing a continued demand uplift alongside strong prices and limited availability of imported crops.

KENT DOWNS AONB IS SEEKING TO SECURE UNESCO DESIGNATION, reports Kent Downs.  The project aims to develop, research and understand the benefits of UNESCO status for the Kent Downs AONB, including Kent’s Heritage Coast from Dover to Folkestone.  It will develop new sustainable tourism initiatives, including a Landscape Festival in 2022.  UNESCO World Heritage Sites are designated by UNESCO for having cultural and natural heritage considered to be of outstanding value to humanity.  There are already 32 in the UK, including Canterbury Cathedral, Stonehenge and the Lake District.

THE KENT COUNTRYSIDE ACCESS FORUM HAS ISSUED GUIDANCE ON HOW TO WALK DOGS SAFELY IN THE COUNTRYSIDE.  It reminds dog owners to keep dogs on leads near fields with livestock, unless near cows with calves.  In the latter instance, keep the dog off the lead, under control, and walk calmly to safety.  Always clear up dog poo on farmland to prevent the passing of worms and parasites on to sheep.  Owners are reminded that dogs must wear a collar with ID tag, as well as be microchipped.  Respect other users of public rights of way, and take care on bridleways and byways, keeping dogs on leads near horses.  Walkers are also encouraged to use a map to help keep to footpaths, to follow footpath markers and other sides, and to follow the countryside code.

DOZENS OF FERRETS HAVE BEEN STOLEN FROM AN ANIMAL RESCUE CENTRE, reports the BBC.  About 30 animals were taken from the centre in Harrietsham on Wednesday between 6pm and midnight.  The police believe that those responsible would have used “several cages and a vehicle” to transport the ferrets from the scene.  Anyone with dashcam or CCTV footage is urged to contact the police.

A £1.2BN LENDING FUND FOR FARMING BUSINESSES HAS BEEN LAUNCHED BY HSBC UK AS PART OF ITS WIDER SME FUND, reports Farming UK.  The specialist farming sector fund aims to help agriculture businesses grow as the UK looks to rebound from the Covid-19 pandemic.  The bank says it expects there to be an increased level of investment in farming enterprises during 2021 in anticipation of industry changes – notably the loss of EU subsidies and the impact of climate change.  HSBC, the first bank to have its own agriculture team, will also provide specialist support with its network of 90 Agriculture Managers.

FOOD AND AGRITECH COMPANIES ARE STARTING TO SEEK PUBLIC CAPITAL, reports the Financial Times.  Companies listed recently on the NYSE include a high-tech greenhouse venturethat grows tomatoes with 90% less water, a plant-based creamer company founded by a big-wave surfer, and a company that makes sustainable plastic using a form of rapeseed.  The co-founder of Agronomics, an agri and food tech investment company listed in London, categorises the fate of such start-ups as “fold, sold or bold.”  Some early stage companies will fail, while others will be sold to established players.  Some “bold” success stories may achieve global reach and offer investors the best returns.

FARMERS ARE BEING ENCOURAGED TO APPLY TO TAKE PART IN THE SUSTAINABLE FARMING INCENTIVE, reports Farming UK.  Pilot agreements are expected to be rolled out from October. Details of the new scheme have now been published, and expressions of interest for the pilot will open from this coming Monday, 15th March.  The SFI will support approaches to farming that deliver for the environment, such as actions to improve soil health, hedgerows and integrated pest management.


RABI has launched the largest ever research project in England and Wales relating to the wellbeing of farming people.  This wide-ranging survey will consider for the first time the relationship between physical health, mental wellbeing and the health of farm businesses.

Who can take part: farmers, farm workers, their spouses and adult-aged children
When: 11th January to 31st March 2021
Content: the survey will take about 15 minutes to complete and will cover three aspects: your mental health, your physical health, and the health of your farming business.
Availablity Online: rabi.org.uk/BigFarmingSurvey
Available in print: hard copies will be circulated in various farming magazines and via postal farming lists.  Alternatively, email FarmSurvey@exeter.ac.uk

The aim is to get 26,000 questionnaires completed, to give a better understanding of the overall health of our industry, and to help target the available support to where it is most needed.


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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