16th October 2020

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Rural Rap

ENGLISH WINE IS AMONG THE BEST IN THE WORLD, HENCE TAITTINGER HAS A VINEYARD HERE, reports the Times.  The farm, seven miles outside Canterbury, is mostly owned by Taittinger, and Domaine Evremond is its latest venture: sparkling wine grown in Kent, but made, blended and bottled by a team of French experts.  Taittinger and its English partners are sinking £12m into the project, proving that this is not a curious little success story, but possibly very big money.  More land in Britain is now given over to the growing of commercial grapes than pears, and well over 10m bottles of English fizz were produced last year.  Taittinger is not the only champagne house investing in the UK – Pommery has a vineyard too and this summer, LVMH, the owner of Krug and Moet, was also reported to be looking at coming to England.   thetimes.co.uk/article/champagne-mais-non-the-new-french-fizz-is-from-kent-5qz7z07vc

MEOPHAM VALLEY VINEYARD IS PROPOSING TO TRANSFORM A VINEYARD INTO A MILLION-POUND TOURIST ATTRACTION, reports the Kent Messenger.  It is looking to grow production and footfall at its 25-acre site in the North Downs.  The planning application is for the erection of a winery and visitor centre, set into the hillside, with associated landscaping, access track to existing vehicle entrance and on-site parking.  The management team believe their soil to be perfect, but without the facilities of winery and storage facilities, they are at a disadvantage to their competitors in east Kent.    kentonline.co.uk/gravesend/news/vineyard-presses-for-million-pound-expansion-235468/

TWO KENT STUDENTS ARE THE LATEST RECIPIENTS OF THE KCAS SCHOLARSHIP SCHEME BURSARY, reports the Kent County Agricultural Society.  The Society’s scholarship scheme has been running since 2016 and is designed to support Kent-based students who are looking to study agriculture or a land-based subject at university.  This year’s scholars are Morgan Tusker from Maidstone, who has recently started an Agriculture (Regenerative Systems and Livestock) course at Writtle University; and Alice Edmonds, also from Maidstone, who is studying Food Marketing and Business Economics at the University of Reading.   kentshowground.co.uk/new-students-join-kent-rural-scholars/

MOST BRITISH CONSUMERS NOW BUY MORE DOMESTIC PRODUCE AS A RESULT OF COVID, reports Farming UK.  The impact of the crisis on consumer grocery shopping habits has been uncovered by Barclays.  25% of those surveyed said they bought produce in local shops and farm stores instead of supermarket-only purchasing.  Over 7m Brits had never visited a farm shop prior to the pandemic, but now visit regularly.  63% of those surveyed now buy more British produce as a result of Covid and Brexit.  51% believed buying local was better for the environment, and 49% are making an effort to buy seasonal produce.   farminguk.com/news/brits-turn-to-uk-produced-food-amid-covid-survey-says_56766.html

MPs HAVE REJECTED AN AMENDMENT IN THE AG BILL WHICH SOUGHT TO PROTECT UK FOOD STANDARDS IN LAW, reports Farming UK.  In Monday’s session, MPs voted down the amendment with a majority of 53.  The clause required imported food to meet UK legal standards from the start of January.  It would, thereby, have offered crucial protections to the reputations and livelihoods of the UK’s farming industry.  It garnered a swathe of cross-party support, including from several Conservative MPs who rebelled against the government.  The Future British Standards Coalition said it was “dismaying” that the government opposed attempts to put into law its own commitment to maintain British food standards.   farminguk.com/news/mps-reject-amendment-protecting-uk-food-standards_56740.html

FARMLAND VALUES HAVE REMAINED STRONG DESPITE WHAT IS SET TO BE A RECORD LOW SUPPLY THIS YEAR, reports Farming UK.  According to latest research, strong values have highlighted an underlying confidence in rural investments and the ongoing resilience of the sector.  Farmland supply remains at historic lows and less than 100,000 acres have been brought to market this year.  Britain’s average “all types” farmland indicator remains unchanged at £6,690 per acre, with prime arable down 0.1% to £8,690 per acre.   farminguk.com/news/farmland-values-remain-strong-despite-record-low-supply_56747.html

GOOGLE HAS LAUNCHED AN AUTONOMOUS ROBOT WHICH USES AI TO MONITOR CROPS, reports the Telegraph.  Powered by solar panels, the buggy travels through crops using cameras and sensors to predict agricultural yields and help farmers decide how much pesticide and fertiliser to use.  It has been launched by X, Google’s “moonshot factory” which develops experimental technologies.  Its large aim is to identify new plant species that could be developed for human consumption and might be resistant to climate change.  telegraph.co.uk/environment/2020/10/14/google-launches-autonomous-robot-analyse-farms-artificial-intelligence/

THE FARMING HELP CHARITIES ARE WORKING TOGETHER TO SUPPORT THE FARMING COMMUNITY THROUGH THE PANDEMIC. 

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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