22nd May 2020


Rural Rap

ONE OF KENT’S LEADING STRAWBERRY FARMS HAS STARTED DISTRIBUTING ITS HARVEST TO STORES ACROSS THE COUNTRY, reports the Kent Messenger.  Hugh Lowe Farms, based in Mereworth, produces over 5,000 tonnes of fresh strawberries each year, about 30 tonnes of which are usually delivered to Wimbledon.  The first variety, Malling Centenary, is now being distributed to supermarkets and suppliers nationwide.

PRINCE CHARLES HAS URGED PEOPLE TO HELP “PICK FOR BRITAIN” TO SAVE CROPS THAT COULD ROT IN FIELDS, reports Farmers Weekly, the Telegraph and the Kent Messenger, among others.  In a video address, the prince praised the country’s “remarkable farmers and growers” and encouraged the public not to let their work be in vain, by joining thousands of people needed to bring in the crops.  Defra’s Pick for Britain campaign, in partnership with the NFU and other industry bodies, aims to link farm employers with workers who will be tasked with picking, packing and grading fruit and veg.  George Eustice also encouraged Britons to apply, and the surge of demand immediately after his call caused the website to crash.   fwi.co.uk/news/prince-of-wales-appeals-to-public-to-pick-for-britain

APPLE AND PEAR GROWERS IN KENT HAVE JOINED A NATIONWIDE RECRUITMENT DRIVE IN A BID TO GET MORE BRITS WORKING ON FARMS THIS SUMMER, reports Kent Online.  Producers have long aired fears that the pandemic will impact on the number of fruit pickers available.  And with more than 11m nationwide furloughed or made unemployed during the crisis, it is hoped that they will support farmers to bring in this year’s fruit crop.  The British Apples & Pears organisation estimates that 10,000 picking jobs will be available in their members’ orchards from August to October.  kentonline.co.uk/kent-business/county-news/jobs-bonanza-to-help-bring-in-fruit-harvest-227233/

WAITROSE AND ITV HAVE JOINED FORCES TO RECRUIT 70,000 BRITISH FARM PICKERS, reports Farmers Weekly.  The broadcaster has launched a new advertising campaign with the retailer to support the farmers’ workforce initiative.  The primetime TB advert will urge the public to get involved and drive potential applicants to the Pick For Britain website.  Waitrose will place ads across national print and digital outlets, with targeted content created for social media to raise awareness among students, grads and younger people looking for long term contracts over the summer.  Later in the year, ITV will broadcast a film following the journey of several people who have volunteered.

THE AGRICULTURE BILL RETURNED TO THE HOUSE OF COMMONS FOR ITS FINAL READING THIS WEEK, reports Farming UK, among others.  MPs voted to reject an amendment that would have protected farmers from lower-standard food imports, despite the government’s previous commitments to safeguard the industry.  The Bill marks the biggest reform of British farming since 1945.  Farming groups have campaigned extensively for a number of important amendments, including asking the Bill to uphold British farmers’ high standard in any future trade deals that the UK makes with third countries.  The amendment, tabled by Neil Parish, was rejected.  This has led to many MPs having “grave concerns” over the direction of travel of the Bill.    farminguk.com/news/mps-reject-ag-bill-vote-to-protect-uk-farmers-high-standards_55644.html

THE CLA HAS RESPONDED TO THE OUTCOME OF THE VOTE WITH “FRUSTRATION” AND “DISAPPOINTMENT.”  The association said it was “deeply frustrating that calls to delay the start of the transition from direct payments has been ignored by the UK government.”  It went on to say that it is “disappointed that the trade amendments didn’t pass,” and that it hopes that “the Lords will allow for more time to closely scrutinise the risks to food production in this country of not having a level playing field with international competitors.”   cla.org.uk/cla-responds-agriculture-bill-outcome

THE BILL WAS THE OPPORTUNITY TO KICK START A “GREEN RECOVERY,” writes the Kent Wildlife Trust.  Last week’s vote was the last opportunity for MPs to amend the bill, which the Trust claims, could kick-start a green recovery by enabling nature to be restored after decades of loss.  The Bill was the first piece of legislation to be voted on by the House of Commons’ new virtual voting procedures.  As coronavirus has made people value nature more than ever, while also triggering public concerns over food security, The Wildlife Trust believes that the Bill should be focused on changing the payment method for farmers to one which rewards farmers for public goods.  In other words, to “switch from the old system of paying farmers for owning land to a reformed system of paying them for their role in fighting the climate and nature crises.”   kentwildlifetrust.org.uk/news/farming

EATING TWO SERVINGS OF FULL FAT DAIRY PRODUCTS EVERY DAY COULD HELP LOWER THE RISK OF OBESITY AND DIABETES, reports Farming UK.  Full fat dairy has a greater impact in cutting the risk of metabolic syndrome – a combination of diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity – compared with low fat products.  The study shows that two daily dairy servings were associated with a 24% risk of MetS when compared with no daily dairy intake.  A serving is defined as 244g of milk or yoghurt, a 15g slice of cheese, or 5g of butter.   farminguk.com/news/full-fat-milk-and-cheese-reduces-health-risks-study-claims_55675.html


CFE CIRTUAL EVENT - An Introduction to Farm Carbon Calculators - Thursday 28th May: 7pm to 8pm

Championing the Farmed Environment invites you to an evening webinar of talks and discussions on getting started with carbon calculations on your farm.

As well as improving farm efficiency and accessing future carbon sequestration opportunities, getting to grips with using farm carbon caluclators will be vital to reaching the NFU target of net zero greenhouse gas (GHG) by 2040.  Our panel will set the scene and lead you through the basics of using the tools available to you. 

Followed by an open discussion session – put your questions to our panel:

Catchment Sensitive Farming’s OWEN STANDEN is leading on developing advice to farmers on climate change locally. He will talk about how the NFU initiative links to the wider GHG and climate change issues and the UK’s aim for net zero by 2050.

NFU livestock adviser HARRIET HENRICK is helping a group of farmers with carbon footprint calculations. She will talk about using calculators in the livestock sector and the actions farmers can take to reduce carbon footprint and make financial savings.
NFU vice president TOM BRADSHAW has tested 3 carbon calculators on his Essex farm growing combinable crops. He will give an arable farmer’s view of using them, what data needed to go in – and what he got out of them.
This is a FREE event but booking is essential.

Online registration is open at http://www.cfeonline.org.uk/our-work/events/cfe-virtual-workshop-farm-carbon-calculators/  and you will be sent details of how to join the meeting. Or email paul.cobb@fwagsoutheast.co.uk  or phone 01233 813186

Pick for Britain!

A Government website aiming to link prospective farm workers with prospective employers.  Growers can now register their vacancies for this year’s harvest.  Please visit: https://pickforbritain.org.uk/ to register your requirements.


A NEW APP HAS BEEN LAUNCHED WHICH ENABLES USERS TO REPORT A FULL RANGE OF INFORMATION RELATING TO RURAL CRIME IN KENT.  The Country Eye App was prompted through a project initiated by Peter Rolington and Mike Bax and developed by Ether Creative in Maidstone. The App can be downloaded onto mobile phones free of charge. It enables users to report a full range of information related to rural crime, including fly tipping and has now passed the impressive milestone of 5000 users. Information is reported every day from all over Kent and relayed by Country Eye to Kent Police or other relevant authority. Linked to the report is a facility to photograph the location of an incident or event, which goes through to Country Eye with a GPS location enabling easy identification of the site. If you haven’t done so already, go to the App Store and download Country Eye.  https://countryeye.co.uk/ 


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


Thousands of temporary workers are needed on British farms to help feed the nation during the coronavirus pandemic. 
Jobs are available on fruit farms, arable farms, livestock farms and in pack houses – with workers also needed to fill other vacancies. 
Follow @Kentslandarmy on Facebook for specific opportunities, or visit:
To apply, please visit: Hops Labour Solutions: https://hopslaboursolutions.com/
Concordia: www.concordiavolunteers.org.uk / 01273 422 218
Pro-Force Recruitment: https://pro-force.co.uk/ / 0333 335 6262
CDS Labour: http://cdslabour.co.uk/
British Summer Fruits: www.britishsummerfruits.co.uk/jobs / 020 7575 7654



Do you need someone to talk to?
The Farming Community Network
Helpline: 03000 111 999
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Available to anyone in the farming community

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