8th January 2021


Rural Rap

CLOSED PUBS IN KENT COULD BE TRANSFORMED INTO VACCINATION CENTRES, reports the Kent Messenger.  Jonathan Neame, Chief Exec of Shepherd Neame, says his venues could be turned into Covid jab hubs overnight.  As a result of lockdown, scores of venues are left empty and “might as well be put to use.”  He believes that they are ideal locations for such centres as they have a lot of refrigeration space, large car parks and buildings, and are well located in the community.  He added that “we vaccinate our staff for flu every year, there’s no reason we can’t do the same for Covid.”

MANY KENT BUSINESSES STEPPED UP TO HELP OUT LORRY DRIVERS STRANDED IN THE COUNTY OVER CHRISTMAS, reports Produced in Kent.  When the borders to Europe were closed on 23rd December, tens of thousands of lorry drivers found themselves in Kent with nothing to do but wait it out.  Biddenden Vineyards delivered 2,000 bottles of apple juice to Stanford Highways depot where they were distributed by the Ghurkas.  Foodari gave fresh, local Kentish apples to all drivers and provided free fruit & veg to Hythe Imperial Hotel, who cooked and delivered meals to the stranded drivers.  Two Macknade vans were dispatched to Ashford International Station, where Southeastern and the Salvation Army worked tirelessly to distribute the food.  The Larder Catering Services worked with the truckers through Christmas and New Year, and Archies Seaglass also gave food.

LAURA BOUNDS, OWNER OF KENT CRISPS, HAS BEEN AWARDED AN MBE FOR SERVICES TO INTERNATIONAL TRADE.  An MBE is awarded for an outstanding achievement or service to the community, serving as an example to others.  Laura’s nomination is in recognition of her work done through Kent Crisps to raise awareness of Kent and the UK on a world stage.  Kent Crisps are made using real Kent produce such as Ashmore Cheese & Biddenden Cider.  Laura also owns Kentish Oils and A Little Bit Food Co.

NASA HAS AGREED TO HELP DEVELOP SPACE TECH AND USE SCIENTIFIC EXPERIENCE TO TRANSFORM AND BOLSTER THE FUTURE OF AG, reports Farming UK.  The USDA has signed an MoU aimed at strengthening its partnership with NASA.  Researchers will explore gaps of importance to the ag community that could be addressed through innovative Earth observation systems and technologies.  The partnership will benefit a variety of Earth and space-based goals and plant-related research on the ISS may lead to new ways to improve agriculture, protect the environment and contribute to better human health.

GENE EDITING IS THE FUTURE OF BRITISH FARMING, argues George Eustice in the Times.  The Secretary of State for Defra notes that the UK is home to some of the world’s leading agricultural research institutes.  He argues that, while the intensification of farming in the 60s and 70s had its benefits – most notably improved yields and increased food production – it has also wreaked destruction on the environment.  Consequently, he argues, we should consider gene editing as a new course for agriculture.  “Genetic diversity is what gives life itself resilience,” he writes.  He acknowledges the ethical and biological concerns associated with transgenesis, but argues that cisgenesis – where traits are moved within a species or genus – raises far fewer such concerns.  He argues that, now we have left the EU, we are “free to make coherent policy decisions based on science.  That starts today.”

HELMUT CLAAS, A “PIONEER” OF AGRICULTURAL MACHINERY, HAS DIED, reports Farming UK.  The long time MD of the Claas Group died on 5th January, aged 94.  Born in 1926 in Germany, he became MD in 1962.  Lord Bamford led tributes to one of the world’s “best known pioneers of agricultural machinery…a passionate farmer and engineer, the worldwide agricultural industry is going to miss him tremendously.”

FARMING GROUPS HAVE PRAISED ALDI AFTER THE RETAILER ANNOUNCED IT WILL SPEND AN ADDITIONAL £3.5BN ON ITS BRITISH FARMER SUPPLIERS, reports Farming UK.  The supermarket chain unveiled plans to boost the amount of food and drink it buys from suppliers within the next five years as it continues its rapid UK expansion.  Aldi is already a big supporter of British agriculture, spending over £8bn with suppliers in 2019 and sourcing core ranges of fresh meat, milk and eggs from Britain.  It also confirmed that the immediate payment terms for small suppliers it introduced at the start of the pandemic will be extended to the end of this year.

FARMERS ARE URGED TO ENGAGE IN A CONSULTATION REGARDING RED TRACTOR’S FOOD AND FARMING STANDARDS, reports Farming UK.  A consultation has opened with plans put forward on how standards should look across the food assurance scheme’s six sectors.  These include beef and lamb, poultry, pigs, dairy, fresh produce and combinable crops and sugar beet.  The proposals are largely about streamlining, legislative compliance and responding to change.  Red Tractor is asking members and stakeholders for their views on what matters to them and their business.

THE PREVALENT MOOD IN RURAL BRITAIN IS THAT MOST POLITICIANS ARE NO LONGER ON THEIR SIDE, writes Nick Herbert in the Telegraph.  The courts have become a new battleground for control of the countryside.  While country people put up with inferior services and feeble broadband as the price of their isolation, “it doesn’t seem to the keeper or farm worker, as he watches news reports of war, urban violence and street crime, that his pastoral life is the source of all modern evil.”  A tiny number of animal rights extremists cause disproportionate trouble.  Climate change, once the fault of frequent flyers and coal burning power stations, is now laid at the door of farting livestock. “Today the countryside is once again feeling undervalued and ignored,” he writes.


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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