6th December 2019


Rural Rap

IT HAS BECOME ALMOST IMPOSSIBLE TO GET TUNBRIDGE WELLS COUNCIL TO CLEAR FLY-TIPPED RUBBISH, reports Kent Online.  Mr Gosbee, a sheep farmer in Frittenden, says he has reported two separate incidents to the council multiple times over the past month.  The council has replied saying that they will not “pick up rubbish from private property and these piles are on private land and not in the highway.”  His claims are supported by Farmers and Mercantile Insurance Brokers who say that farmers are “silently suffering the scourge of fly tipping.”  There were 554 reported incidents of fly tipping on agricultural land in the South East last year, but the true figure is much higher as many farmers do not bother to report it.

IN ANTICIPATION OF NEXT THURSDAY’S GENERAL ELECTION, FARMERS WEEKLY HAVE RUN A PARTY-BY-PARTY ANALYSIS OF FARMING PLEDGES.  In brief summary: The Conservative manifesto contains few surprises, though its most eye-catching promise is to maintain current funding levels until 2025.  Labour’s ideas smack of continued intervention which, should the overall economy suffer as a result, could still be good for farming if it triggers a further weakening of sterling.  While the Lib Dems are the only party to seek a substantial increase in agricultural funding, it also favours taking more support from larger farmers to fund agri-environment projects.  The Greens want to encourage more tree planting and recycle more food waste, both of which are commendable, but the article claims that most of its other policies would “undermine the viability of British farming.”  The Brexit Party’s lack of policies relating to agriculture is seen as a indication of its complacency towards rural areas.

RURAL BUSINESS OWNERS COULD RECOVER THOUSANDS OF POUNDS IN OVER-PAID COUNCIL TAX, reports Farmers Weekly.  Council tax bands, particularly on houses associated with mixed use developments, can often be overvalued. According to Fisher German, the occupiers have no idea they are overpaying their tax and can claim it back.  Due to the fact that council tax is based on property values in 1991, widely inaccurate valuations are actually quite common.  A few simple questions can enable advisers to check properties to see if they are in an unfairly high band.  On one occasion a farmer received a backdated refund worth around £20,000.

THE NUMBER OF FARMERS WHO SAY MARKET UNCERTAINTY HAS PREVENTED THEM FROM INVESTING HAS INCREASED SHARPLY IN THE PAST SIX MONTHS, reports Farmers Weekly.  Survey figures show that almost a third of businesses blamed the questionable outlook as the biggest reason for a lack of investment.  This compares with just 19% citing the same reason back in May.  78% of farmers felt that external factors beyond their control hampered the development of their businesses.

THE BRITISH CARROT HARVEST COULD BE “WIPED OUT” IF BAD WEATHER PERSISTS, reports Farming UK.  Growers have highlighted that the recent adverse weather conditions have made field operation extremely difficult.  More than half of the UK’s carrot growing areas have been hit by flooding.  The harvesting of carrots has continued, but flooded land has prevented growers from using the machinery and equipment necessary to spread straw.

SCIENTISTS HAVE WARNED THAT A PLANT-BASED DIET IS “COMPLETELY UNNECESSARY” AND THAT MEAT HAS “MASSIVE SOCIAL BENEFITS” TO SOCIETIES AROUND THE WORLD, reports Farming UK.  Several experts have argued against the current fashion of going vegan.  They argued that meat gives people essential nutrients; that if everybody went vegan it would be devastating for the UK environment and biodiversity; that it would not – as sometimes claim – minimise land use; and that meat has massive social benefits.  The study follows the news in September that eating a plant-based diet may increase the risk of stroke.

THE MAKERS OF THE GREAT BRITISH BAKE OFF ARE ENCOURAGING FARMING FAMILY MEMBERS TO APPLY FOR THE SHOW’S NEXT SERIES, reports Farmers Weekly.  Would-be star bakers have until 5th January to submit their applications.  The producers have contacted Farmers Weekly because they are very keen to hear from the farming community.  The last season typically drew more than 9m viewers an episode.  Last season featured a Somerset vet, who has also urged anyone in farming to give it a go, and believes that appearing on the show would be a great opportunity to fly the flag for agriculture and the countryside.  To submit your application, go online here.


FCN is a voluntary organisation supporting farmers and their families through difficult times.  With over 400 volunteers across the country, its confidential helpline is open every day from 7am to 11pm. 

The charity is strengthening its local volunteer groups in response to a growing need for support as a result of ever-increasing challenges facing those who work in the sector. 

If you have an understanding of the farming industry, a genuine interest in the wellbeing of those who work in it, and are seeking a rewarding voluntary role, please get in touch. 

FCN KENT is seeking a Group Co-Ordinator, a Group Chairperson, and other volunteers.

For further information, please contact:

Mark Thomas, Regional Director (South), at mark@fcn.org.uk or on 07815 082 326

CONSERVATION GRANTS of up to £10,000 now available

The Old Chalk New Downs project is offering grants for capital work proposals that contribute to securing habitat connectivity and improving access across the project area, through the enhancement and management of chalk grassland, hedges and ponds. 

If you have a project idea, please contact William Moreno at: william.moreno@kent.gov.uk, call 03000 410 348, or visit www.oldchalknewdowns.org.uk.


10th December : Kirkland Machinery Open Day
Join us for our annual open day to celebrate another year!  We will be showcasing a range of our specialist equipment, holding exclusive machinery deals plus free food & drink!
Kirkland UK, Griffins Farm, Pleasure House Lane, ME17 3NW
10am to 4pm

12th December : GENERAL ELECTION

4th March: Farm Expo
Farm Expo, organised by the Kent Agricultural Society, showcases machinery, supplies and services for the agricultural industry with trade stands, seminars and networking opportunities.  Kent’s standout agricultural event will host major national and international providers of farm machinery and services and will host seminars on the industry’s trending topics.
Trade stands can be booked until 31st January by contacting Meghan Rice-Wilson on meghan@kentshowgroumd.co.uk / 01622 633 057
The Kent Showground, Detling
To register your attendance: http://bit.ly/2LdY4l1

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