13th August 2021


Rural Rap

THE BLACKCURRANT HARVEST IS WELL UNDERWAY WITH THE BERRIES SEEMINGLY UNAFFECTED BY UNSEASONAL WEATHER PATTERNS, reports Farming UK and the Kent Messenger.  Growers are expecting to crop nearly 10,000 tonnes of the fruit from the field.  The resilience to unseasonal weather is in part due to the pioneering work of the Ribena manufacturers, who have developed new varieties of climate-resilient blackcurrants.  Nick Overy, a Kent grower, said the unpredictable weather had made it a tough year but “thankfully, the blackcurrant breeding programme helps to mitigate the worst impacts of the weather…despite the late harvest, I’m confident that our yield will be as big as ever.”

POLICE ARE APPEALING FOR INFORMATION AFTER TWO SHEEP WERE FOUND BUTCHERED IN A FIELD NEAR SITTINGBOURNE, reports the Kent Messenger, Farming UK and Kent Police.  The animals’ mutilated bodies were discovered next to a public footpath in Sharsted Wood, a popular beauty spot in Doddington.  The sheep are believed to have been killed over the weekend.  The police said that “the two sheep had been butchered by a person, or persons, with expertise in removing meat from a carcass.”  Farmer Stewart Wood, who runs Teynham Court Farm and owned the sheep, said that this doesn’t only affect farmers, it also affects staff and the community.”

THE RED BILLED CHOUGH HAS RETURNED TO THE WHITE CLIFFS OF DOVER FOR THE FIRST IN CENTURIES, reports the Kent Messenger and Kent Wildlife Trust.  The rare birds are now living in a specially built aviary which was unveiled at Dover Castle on Friday.  The launch is part of a ground-breaking conservation project by Wildwood Trust and KWT which aims to release the species into the wild in Kent next year.  The red-billed chough is a rare member of the crow family and is identified by its glossy black plumage, red legs and distinctive red beak.  There are 330 breeding pairs in the UK.

SHEPHERD NEAME HAVE WON DOUBLE GOLD AT A NATIONAL AWARDS, reports the Kent Messenger.  The Faversham brewery picked up the achievements at the 2021 British Bottlers’ Institute competition which recognises the best in the bottling and packaging industry.  Its Bear Island East Coast Pale Ale won gold in the ales category, while its Bear Island Triple Hopped Lager collected gold in the lager category.  Whistable Bay Blonde received a diploma of excellence in the same category.

KENT’S FOOD GROWERS ARE LAUNCHING THE FIRST “RURAL YOUTH IDEAS FESTIVAL,” reports the Kent Messenger, the Rural Youth Project and Beanstalk Global.  Producers across Kent say they’ve seen a huge downturn in the number of younger people joining the sector which gave the county its status as the Garden of England.  This festival is part of a new scheme to encourage new blood into the county’s food growing industry.  Organisers are calling on young people to drive the festival and encourage those aged 18-28 from Kent and Medway to breathe new life into the industry as it battles the post-Brexit and post-Covid challenges.  Fresh produce businesses and local authorities from across the county will attend the festival and demonstrate the wide variety of skills required and jobs available to maintain the Garden of England.  The event, which will be run by the Rural Youth Project, is an “exciting and powerful way to inspire the younger generation.”
The festival will run from August 30th to September 1st at Bore Place in Chiddingstone, near Edenbridge. 

JOHN DEERE HAS ACQUIRED BEAR FLAG ROBOTICS FOR £180M IN A BID TO CREATE “SMARTER MACHINES WITH ADVANCED TECHNOLOGY,” reports Farming UK.  The US machinery giant said the acquisition of the Silicon-Valley based start up would “accelerate the development and delivery of automation and autonomy on the farm.”  Bear Flag Robotics develops autonomous driving technology compatible with existing machines.

A LACK OF ULTRAFAST FULL-FIBRE BROADBAND IS HOLDING BACK RURAL BUSINESSES, reports the Countryside Alliance.  New research shows that 80% of rural businesses believe that ultrafast fibre connectivity would be the single business positive impact on their business recovery post Covid.  85% of rural businesses report their current internet as being either poor but manageable (47%) or unmanageably poor (38%).  20% of the 650 rural business owners surveyed said they had had to resort to working from a café or public space to get the internet they need to operate.


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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