14th February 2020


Rural Rap

STATISTIC OF THE WEEK: It is feared that the county's insect population has declined by 50% in just 15 years

AN INNOVATIVE CITIZEN SCIENCE PROJECT HAS FOUND 50% FEWER INSECTS IN KENT SINCE 2004, reports the Kent Wildlife Trust.  The “splatometer test” supports other research which suggests a significant decline in the population of insects and invertebrates on a global level.  The KWT’s Bugs Matter Survey points to similar results with 50% fewer insects recorded in the county.  The “splatometer test” asked members of the public to record the number of insects squashed on their car registration plate.   The “splat density” has decreased from an average of 0.2 splats per mile to 0.1 splats per mile.  The Trust is now seeking volunteers to participate in the 2020 survey.  Read more…

A KENT SHEEP FARM IS BEING INVESTIGATED OVER ANIMAL WELFARE CONCERNS, reports the BBC.  Trading Standards are investigating a farm where animal rights campaigners claim sheep and lambs were regularly “left to rot” in the fields.  The RSPCA said the situation at the farm near Ashford was “deeply distressing.”  Government inspectors have previously warned the farm about its standards after dead sheep were found two years ago.  The farmer has denied the accusation, confirming that “they’ve got food, they’ve got water, they’re checked every day.”  Defra does not comment on individual cases.  Read more…

TWO MEN ARE BEING INVESTIGATED AFTER A TRACTOR AND OTHER EQUIPMENT WAS STOLEN FROM A FARM NEAR  FOLKESTONE, reports Kent Police.  A tractor, a ride-on mower and diesel were reportedly stolen during burglaries at the farm in Hawkinge between 24 and 31 January.  The tractor has since been returned and two men have been arrested by Kent Police’s Rural Task Force and Folkestone Community Policing teams.  Anyone with further information is urged to call the police on 01843 222 289 quoting reference 46/19958/20.  Read more…

A KENT SHEPHERD IS REPRESENTING THE UK AT THE EUROPEAN YOUNG SHEPHERD COMPETITION THIS WEEKEND, reports Farming UK.  Seven young shepherds from across the country will travel to the “Ovinpiades” Young Shepherd Competition in Paris.  The competitors will be required to demonstrate sheep husbandry and industry knowledge through a range of quizzes and practical tests, including the use of EID, sheep movements and finished lamb assessments.  Among the British representatives is Samuel Hewett, 23, from Kent.  Read more…

M&S HAS LAUNCHED A HEART-SHAPED CUCUMBER, GROWN AT A KENT FARM, FOR VALENTINE’S DAY, reports the Kent Messenger.   Suitably named a “love cue,” the fruit is being sold at 95 stores across the country, including four in Kent: Hempsted Valley, Bluewater, Bromley and Tunbridge Wells.  The healthy snack, which was grown at M&S Select Farms in Kent, will cost £1 and follows on from last year’s heart-shaped sausage.  Read more…

GEORGE EUSTICE HAS BEEN PROMOTED TO SECRETARY OF STATE FOR DEFRA, reports Farmers Weekly among other publications.  He has replaced Theresa Villiers who, having held the role for just 235 days, is the shortest-serving Defra secretary since the post was created in 2001.  Eustice grew up on a fruit farm and spent nine years working on the farm before entering Parliament.  He was previously the Farming Secretary and has been with the department since 2013, apart from five months last year when he resigned from Theresa May’s government.  The immediate reaction to the appointment is that this is Good News for British farming; the social media consensus appears to be that it is “about time” he was promoted into the role, and that it is a relief to have someone at the top who “knows his brief.”   Read more…  Read more… Read more…

DEFRA HAS PUBLISHED A 15 min PODCAST DESIGNED TO EXPLAIN FARMING FUNDING FOR 2020 AND BEYOND, records Farmers Weekly.  The Government has pledged to provide the same cash total in funds for farm support until the end of this Parliament.  There will be continuity for farmers this year, with little changing in practice.  As we leave the EU we leave CAP, so funding for 2020 – which will be maintained at the same level (using 2019 exchange rate) – will be paid by the UK rather than by the EU.  Funding for future years will be determined by Parliament, but this government has committed to maintaining it for the duration of this Parliament.  Defra wants to delink payments to enable farmers to diversify their land and make future planning easier.  All projects where funding is agreed by the end of this year, will continue to receive funding for the duration of the programme.  Read more…

ALMOST HALF OF BRITISH FARMERS ARE LOOKING TO DIVERSIFY THEIR BUSINESSES AHED OF THE BIGGEST SHAKE-UP OF FARM FUNDING FOR DECADES, reports Farmers Weekly.  With Brexit now underway, farmers in the UK are looking at a 2020 “diversification drive” to help further support their businesses.  48% of farmers are planning to set up or expand diversification businesses, moving into new areas such as tourism, hospitality, retail and renewable energy.  This figure has doubled since 2018. Read more…

DEFRA WILL REISSUE THE SIX CURRENT GENERAL LICENCES, reports the CLA.  The licences, which had been due to end on 29 February, will be reissued from 1 March to 31 July.  These licences include GL26, GL28, GL31, GL34, GL35 and GL36.  No action is required by licence users.  The licences are being issued on a temporary basis, as Defra is still completing its review of scientific and practitioner evidence submitted last year.  Defra hopes to have new licences in place by August this year, with a view to publishing them in July to allow users to become acquainted with any changes.  Read more…

THIS WEEK MARKS THE 160TH ANNIVERSARY OF R.A.B.I, reports RABI.  The charity was founded by John Mechi, the son of an Italian businessman, following his concerns about poverty in the farming community. He wrote to the Times to rally support and received donations of 1,700 guineas and 450 pledges to make annual donations.  By the end of its first year, the charity had granted £00 to farming people – equivalent to around £36,000 today.  Last year, the charity gave £.29m in grants to 1,358 afrmers and their families.  But the support provided is not just financial – welfare officers take time to find appropriate solutions for each case, for example 128 people were assisted in the complicated paperwork and process of claiming state benefits.  The confidential helpline is 0808 281 9490.  Read more…

MILK CONSUMPTION IS DOWN 50% SINCE 1974, reports Farming UK.  According to the Defra Family Food survey, in 1974 the average per capita consumption was 140l per year – or 2.7l per week.  By 2018 that had dropped by just under 50%.  A similar trend has been reported in the US.  Factors for the decline include a reduced consumption of “host foods” such as tea, coffee and breakfast cereal.  However, alternative products such as almond milk still only account for 4.6% of volume sales of all milk.  And the trend has slowed in recent years, with retail sales volumes of cow’s milk in 2019 down just 1.5% on 2015.  Read more…

ORGANISED CRIMINAL GANGS ARE BEING BLAMED FOR A LARGE RISE IN MAJOR FLY-TIPPNIG INCIDENTS, reports Farmers Weekly.  An investigation by the BBC Shared Data Unit has found that large-scale fly-tipping – defined as a tipper lorry load size or more – has doubled in the last six years.  Since 2012 there has been a 112% rise across the country in the largest tips.  Clean up costs are hitting taxpayers in the pocket, with councils in England and Wales spending more than £59m over the period to clean up.  Criminals use lock-cutting tools to break into private land; and bogus waste companies try to rent buildings or land on which to dump the waste.  While the penalties can be high, typically offenders receive only small fines of a few hundred pounds.  Read more…

WATER ABSTRACTION: New Authorisations Announcement

Extension to application period from 31 Dec 2019 to 30 June 2020

If you are currently abstracting for a previously exempt activity then this applies to you. 

A helpful six month extension has just been announced to the application window for previously exempt abstractions.  This will benefit trickle irrigators, wetland operators and other previously exempt abstracting business.  The New Authorisation regulations came into force on 1 January 2018, meaning that those previously exempt abstractions now require a licence. 

This is the LAST OPPORTUNITY to secure these protected rights for your abstraction and cannot be retrospectively applied after 30 June 2020. 

Apply now at: www.gov.uk/guidance/water-management-abstract-or-impound-water


7-16th February: Big Farmland Bird Count
Organised by the GWCT, the BFBC is a fantastic opportunity for farmers to unite and demonstrate the great conservation work that they do.
On any day between 7 & 16 February, spend 30 minutes recording the species and number of birds seen on one particular part of your firm – ideally somewhere with a good view of about 2ha and at first light.  Results can then be submitted submitted at https://www.bfbc.org.uk/ or sent to GWCT, Burgate Manor, Fordingbridge, Hampshire SP6 1EF.
For further information, please visit: https://www.bfbc.org.uk/

19th February: Upper Beult Farmer Cluster Meeting
The second “Upper Beult Farmer Cluster” meeting will be held at the Dering Arms in Pluckley.  The meetings aim to provide insights into the thought that needs to be given to participation in proposed new schemes.  All farmers / landowners in the Low Weald between Ashford and Headcorn are very welcome to attend.  Farmers, KWT and Southern Water are seeking to secure the all-important water resource in the River Beult catchment by working collectively.  The Cluster looks to foster farmer lead workshops, farm walks and peer support for innovative ways of reducing pesticide run off and improving yelds.
6.00pm, Wednesday 19 February
Dering Arms, Pluckley, TN27 0RR
To register: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/2nd-upper-beult-farmer-cluster-meeting-topic-healthy-soils-and-wildlife-tickets-90940999979

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

5th April: Romney Marsh Wools Open Day
There will be opportunity to meet the lambs, as well as to find out more and about the sheep and life on the farm.  There will be Kentish crafts, food and drink available on the day from specially selected producers, plus activities for children of all ages, including the chance to have your photo taken in a tractor.  There will be a cookery demo from Julie Friend, Master Chef 2009.  The sponsored charity will, once again, be RABI.

FREE Entry
11.00am to 3.00pm
Rushfield, Giggers Green Road, Aldington, Kent TN25 7BT

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