13th March 2020


Rural Rap

STATISTIC OF THE WEEK: The UK's agri-food sector accounts for an annual Gross Value Add of £121bn or 6.6% of national GVA

FARM EXPO HAS ESTABLISHED ITSELF AS A KEY DATE IN THE AGRICULTURE CALENDAR AFTER ANOTHER SUCCESSFUL EVENT, reports the Kent Showground.  The farming machinery and trade show took place on 4th March and welcomed 2,500 visitors and hosted over 110 trade stands, 32 of which were new to the event.  Visitors saw the latest machinery and services for the industry from a large range of national and international manufacturers and suppliers.  The headline seminar was led by Phil Jarvis of the NFU, rural commentator Rob Yorke, and NIAB EMR’s Mario Caccamo, who each gave their insights into the next ten years of British farming.  Next year’s event will be on 3rd March. read more…

THE WINNERS OF THIS YEAR’S TASTE OF KENT AWARDS WERE UNVEILED AT AN AWARD CEREMONY LAST WEEK, reports Kent Online.  Hundreds gathered at the Kent Event Centre for the presentations.  Organised by Produced in Kent, the awards are now in their 16th year and showcase the best food and drink products and businesses across the county, with categories ranging from Hop Grower of the Year to Excellence for Customer Service.  For a full list of winners, please visit the link below. read more…

SHIPBOURNE FARMERS’ MARKET HAS BEEN NAMED FARMERS’ MARKET OF THE YEAR 2020, reports the Farm Retail Association.  The association is a national body which supports both Farm Shops and Farmers Markets.  The winner is chosen from a short list of three, each of which are visited by a “mystery shopper.”  In a great coup for Kent, all three of the finalists in this category were Kent farmers’ markets – the two runners up being Lenham and West Malling.   read more…

SHEPHERD NEAME IS EXPECTING CORONAVIRUS TO HAVE A BEARING ON ITS BUSINESS AND SUPPLY CHAIN, reports the Kent Messenger.  The Faversham-based brewery is likely to be hit if people start avoiding its pubs and restaurants over the coming weeks in a bid to limit the spread of the illness.  The warning comes after the company announced a positive set of financial results for the last six months, with both turnover and profit on the up.  Turnover increased by 3.3% to £79m, and underlying PBT was up 4.8% to £6.2m.  These results are a result of the strength of Shepherd Neame’s business model and show the benefits of a well-balanced business.  While it is impossible to gauge the impact of coronavirus on the business, it is probable that increasing restrictions on social activities will have a bearing.   read more…

NEW MEASURES HAVE BEEN ANNOUNCED TO MAINTAIN THE UK’S FOOD SUPPLY CHAIN IN RESPONSE TO CORONAVIRUS PANIC BUYING, reports Farming UK.  The government has extended delivery hours for supermarkets and other food retailers to support the industry’s response to Covid-19.  Food retailers can increase the frequency of deliveries to their stores and move stocks more quickly from warehouses to replenish shelves.  The government is also considering measures to ensure supply chains continue to function as normal, such as extending drivers’ hours.  read more…

THE NFU HAS POSTPONED ITS PLANNED LONDON RALLY IN RESPONSE TO CONCERNS OVER CORONAVIRUS, reports Farming UK.  Hundreds of farmers were due to descend on Westminster in two weeks’ time to urge the government to back British farming as post-Brexit trade talks loom.  The event will be rescheduled for later in the year.  Overseas agriculture events have already been effected by the disease, with the last day of Paris’s annual agriculture fair cancelled.   read more…

FARMERS BREATHED A SIGH OF RELIEF AS THE CHANCELLOR LAID OUT HIS BUDGET THIS WEEK, reports Farming UK and Farmers Weekly.  Mooted policies which had caused major concern for the industry were nowhere to be seen.  Rumours had been rife that farmers would be the losers of the 2020 budget but, while red diesel tax relief will be abolished, it will be retained for agriculture, rail, fishing and domestic heating.  Similarly, there were reports that APR would be scrapped – this tax relief enables farmers to pass on their property without IHT – but these fears were unfounded.  In relation to coronavirus, the treasury has pledged to foot the sick pay bill of any businesses under 250 employees, and it is hoped that the self-employed will be able to seek held from the £1bn boost to the benefits system and a local authority hardship fund.  £5.2bn was promised for flood defences, and a new £640m climate fund was launched.  There will also be £2m to help fight fly-tipping.  read more…   read more…

THE CLA DESCRIBED THE BUDGET AS ONE THAT “BACKS SMALL BUSINESSES THROUGH DIFFICULT TIMES.”  Broadly the group welcomed the measures set out by the chancellor to protect small businesses from the impact of coronavirus.  The announcement that technology R&D will increase to £22bn was welcomed cautiously, with the CLA warning that an “appropriate share” must be used to ensure the rural economy reaches its economic and environmental potential;  The creation of a Nature for Climate Fund was warmly welcomed, as was the lack of substance to rumours of the scrapping of APR, BPR and the Red Diesel Rebate.   read more…

THE COUNTRYSIDE ALLIANCE DESCRIBED THIS AS A “WELCOME BUDGET FOR RURAL COMMUNITIES,” arguing that the Treasury had listened to its demands for better digital connectivity, a full-scale review of business rates and further measures to tackle rural fly-tipping.  Again, the news that the red diesel subsidy will remain for agriculture was well-received, and the significant increase in business rates relief will ensure that pubs can remain at the heart of rural communities.  There are calls though for further detail on the allocation of money being put into peatland restoration.  The response concludes with a call that the measures outlined be “introduced sooner rather than later, so that rural communities can start to feel the benefit.”  read more…

THE NFU HAS SAID THAT FARMERS AND GROWERS FACE A “GREATER RISK” OVER THEIR FUTURE ACCESS, writes Farming UK.  The comments come as a new irrigation water strategy for agriculture was launched at the annual conference of the UK Irrigation Association.  There are concerns that increased demand from other users and climate change will have an impact on farming’s access to water.  The NFU said it is essential that growers of fresh fruit and vegetables “need a fair share” of the nation’s water resources.  read more…



HEDGEROW GRANTS - Old Chalk New Downs

This year the Old Chalk New Downs project is offering a grant specifically for gapping up and planting of hedgerows. 
Planting for hedgerows runs from 1st November to 31st March, so the project is still taking last minute applications for this season, as well as for next. 
The project has the following objectives:

  • to restore historic hedgerows
  • to increase habitat connectivity and facilitate species movement
  • to interrupt surface flows of water and reduce run-off which may contribute to localised flooding

The grant will fund up to 90% of the proposal costs and will not fund hedge planting already funded through Countryside Stewardship agreements or any other trust or foundation. 

For further information, please contact OCND@kent.gov.uk   


20th March: Understanding Soil Health & Regenerative Agriculture
Farmers and landowners in the Stour River catchment are invited to attend this free event with guest speaker Niels Corfield.  As well as being an adviser, soil researcher and technician, Niels also carries out soil monitoring for PFLA across the UK.  The workshop will look at improving soil health, improving soil drainage and water holding, reducing reliance on external inputs, identifying opportunities for outwintering livestock, applying soil health principles to grow healthier crops and consistent yields, and getting feedback on farm. 

Kindly hosted by: Pent Farm, Postling, Kent CT21 4EY

9.30am to 3.30pm; lunch will be provided
For further information, please contact debbie.reynolds@kent.gov.uk / 03000 410 900
To register (booking is essential): https://regenerativeagricultureinthestourcatchment.eventbrite.co.uk

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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