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Est 1982

November 2020


Knowing the origin of every potato sold



Online this year, but as special as ever


Responsible use of medicines in youngstock management


A unique mix of equestrian and blueberry garden diversifications

Time for a Strategic Estate Review?

Chris Tipping 01444 412402 Alex Wilks

01798 877555

Leo Hickish

01892 509280

NOVE M BE R 2 0 2 0

27 05 06 09 10






Be aware of unwanted attempts to have a

A business relationship built on mutual

£8m investment plans for egg company.

nearby footpath either formalised, reopened,

respect and shared values has seen

Ballot on future of AHDB Horticulture.

or possibly upgraded to a bridle path.

Provenance Potatoes develop into a thriving

Last call for metaldehyde slug pellets. College thrives under new management.








Dog thefts reach shocking numbers.



OUT AND ABOUT Nigel visits Northover Farm in East Sussex to find out more about their unique mix of equestrian and blueberry garden


marketing group for growers in East Kent.



NATIONAL FRUIT SHOW LIVE! The show’s organisers have worked incredibly hard to create something special under difficult circumstances.





Alan’s introduction to farming began when he was four.





www.southeastfarmer.net SOUTH EAST FARMER Kelsey Media, The Granary, Downs Court Yalding Hill, Yalding, Maidstone, Kent, ME18 6AL 01959 541444 EDITORIAL Editor: Malcolm Triggs Email: sef.ed@kelsey.co.uk Photography: Martin Apps, Countrywide Photographic PUBLISHER Jamie McGrorty 01303 233883 jamie.mcgrorty@kelsey.co.uk AD PRODUCTION Studio Manager: Jo Legg jo.legg@kelsey.co.uk Graphic Designer: James Pitchford TO ADVERTISE CALL 01303 233883


38 Kelsey Media 2020 © all rights reserved. Kelsey Media is a trading name of Kelsey Publishing Ltd. Reproduction in whole or in part is forbidden except with permission in writing from the publishers. Note to contributors: articles submitted for consideration by the editor must be the original work of the author and not previously published. Where photographs are included, which are not the property of the contributor, permission to reproduce them must have been obtained from the owner of the copyright. The editor cannot guarantee a personal response to all letters and emails received. The views expressed in the magazine are not necessarily those of the Editor or the Publisher. Kelsey Publishing Ltd accepts no liability for products and services offered by third parties. Kelsey Media takes your personal data very seriously. For more information of our privacy policy, please visit Kelsey Media takes your personal data very seriously. For more information of our privacy policy, please visit https://www.kelsey.co.uk/privacy-policy/ . If at any point you have any queries regarding Kelsey’s data policy you can email our Data Protection Officer at dpo@kelsey.co.uk.

www.kelsey.co.uk Cover picture: Provenance Potatoes © Martin Apps


£25M IN GRANTS Milking Daisy


While some campaigns struggle along for years, others achieve their goal more quickly and manage to keep the momentum going for decades. CAMRA, the Campaign for Real Ale, is a case in point. I don’t remember the last time I was in a pub that wasn’t selling at least a couple of real ales, but the group set up in 1972 to persuade pubs to stock ‘proper’ beer is still promoting the message and winning new supporters. Perhaps CAMRA has heard the story – possibly apocryphal but still persuasive – that tells how, when the Guinness brand already enjoyed an impressive level of public recall thanks to the Toucan advertisements created by John Gilroy, one of its bean counters decided that the advertising spend was unnecessarily high for such a well-known brand. The budget was cut and recall slumped, at least according to the marketing guru telling the story. There is a similar cautionary tale about the danger of cutting advertising spend told about Golden Wonder crisps. Another campaign that seems to have been remarkably successful is the move to encourage consumption of free range eggs, something that seems to have been taken to heart by shoppers across the country. Given that there is growing demand for UK free-range eggs and that most people would presumably claim to favour the additional freedom given to free-range hens as opposed to those cooped up (no pun intended) in battery houses, it seems odd that egg producer Fridays feels the need to put so much effort into winning support for its plan to open a new free range farm just outside Maidstone. The proposals for 36,000 new trees – three times the number at Bedgebury Pinetum – and improved public access to the River Beult are clearly very welcome and will make a fantastic contribution to the countryside, but it seems odd that the company feels it needs to mitigate a proposal that is designed to give the public the eggs it needs laid by the happy hens of which it dreams. The company has also stressed that modern farming methods will quickly and efficiently remove the manure that might otherwise upset any locals in close proximity to the site, as if it needed to point out that farming in 2020 is a modern, sophisticated business with sufficient technology to deal with such challenges. Having said that, of course, the Government’s decision not to include dairy workers on its Shortage Occupation List reflects similar outdated thinking. While bricklayers operate sophisticated, fully-automated, high-tech, err… trowels, dairy workers perch on a three legged stool, straw in mouth, milking Daisy by hand. Apparently. MALCOLM TRIGGS - EDITOR

EMAIL YOUR VIEWS, LETTERS OR OPINIONS TO: sef.ed@kelsey.co.uk or write to the address on page 3 ®

The Government has made £25 million available in grants for productivityboosting farming equipment in the third and final round of its Countryside Productivity Small Grants (CPSG) scheme. Farmers can apply for grants of between £3,000 and £12,000 to buy approved items of new and innovative equipment – from livestock monitoring cameras to precision farming technology – that helps businesses save time and money and improve productivity. The list of items included in the scheme was expanded last year and now includes equipment designed, for instance, to help minimise soil compaction in fields, monitor ammonia levels in farm buildings and increase machinery precision when applying slurry. Farmers who have been successful in previous rounds will be able to apply for different pieces of equipment within this final round up to the scheme’s limit of £12,000 per farmer, allowing them to streamline other elements of their business or start the move towards farming more sustainably. Farming Minister Victoria Prentis said she was “delighted we’ve been able to make £25 million in grants available to farmers to invest in the latest technology” and added: “Coming from a farming family, I have experienced first-hand the benefits that having innovative equipment can bring, including saving businesses time and money while improving yields and minimising the impact we have on the environment.” With £35 million allocated to farmers in the scheme’s first two funding rounds, the announcement earlier this month brings the total funding made available under the scheme to £60m. Farmers will have until midday on 4 November to apply to the Rural Payments Agency and can find full details at www.gov.uk/guidance/countryside-productivity-scheme


The Burden Bros Agri Ltd John Deere dealership, which covers Kent, East Sussex and parts of Surrey and includes both agricultural and turf equipment, is to be acquired by P Tuckwell Ltd. The deal is set to be completed by the end of October 2020, when the Burden Bros Agri business will join the Tuckwell group and be fully owned and managed by the Tuckwell family. All employees are expected to transfer as part of the sale, and the three existing Burden Bros dealership branch locations at Stockbury and Ivychurch in Kent and Framfield in East Sussex will be retained. No other businesses in the BB⁴ Group are affected. John Deere Limited divisional sales manager Joedy Ibbotson thanked the Burden family for “the outstanding job they have done in supporting and growing the John Deere brand in South East England since becoming a dealer just over 13 years ago”. He added: “We are delighted that they have reached this agreement with Tuckwells, which ensures the continuity of the Burden Bros team and dealership outlets within the John Deere network. This is a great fit, combining two businesses with closely aligned values based on outstanding customer service with a focus on precision technology and connected support.” Dealer principal James Tuckwell added: “The acquisition shows our total commitment to both the ag and turf industries and consolidates our standing as one of the UK’s leading machinery dealerships. It also enables us to build on BBA’s hard work and support our customers, new and old, by delivering exceptional customer experience.” Joint business owner Dale Burden commented: “I, along with my three brothers, are extremely proud of what we as a team at Burden Bros Agri Ltd have achieved since establishing the dealership in 2007. “We have built a strong agricultural and turf business throughout the South East of England and come a long way in a short period of time. In light of recent announcements from John Deere regarding their European dealer strategy and recognising some of the benefits scale can bring, we felt the time was right to consolidate the business with a fellow local dealer.”


HEN HOUSE > Graham Fuller

Egg producer Fridays Ltd has announced plans to invest £8m to create three industryleading hen houses at a new farm south of Maidstone in Kent. Fridays, a third-generation family business based in Cranbrook and one of the country’s largest free-range egg producers, says it needs the new facility to help meet the growing demand for UK-produced free-range eggs. While looking to submit a planning application to Maidstone Borough Council later this year, the company has announced a range of additional proposals that it hopes will help persuade local people to back the plan for land at Reed Court Farm, Chainhurst, near Hunton. Plans for the proposed Wealden Woods Free Range Farm include planting 36,000 trees to create 20 hectares of new woodland and woodland pasture made up of a mix of native species. A new public access route along the River Beult to the north of the farm will be created by applying to re-route various public rights of way. Graham Fuller, Production Manager at Fridays, said: “Like our other nearby free-range farms, we will operate to the highest standards of animal welfare, an approach that has been praised by


the highly respected organisation Compassion in World Farming. “If approved, we will be able to plant 36,000 trees, which is more than three times the number of trees at the National Pinetum at Bedgebury.” Alongside the tree planting, the hen houses will be fitted with solar panels, with the aim of making the operation at Wealden Woods Free Range Farm carbon neutral. Each of the proposed three hen houses would have a dedicated range area and accommodate up to 64,000 hens. They would incorporate the latest farming technologies for feed and water delivery systems and ventilation. Manure would be removed twice a week by conveyor belt direct to a covered trailer and removed from the site. Mr Fuller added: “To improve our environmental performance, the manure would be transported to an anaerobic digestion facility at nearby Knoxbridge Farm, near Staplehurst, which will produce odourless compost and biogas.”


To comment on the proposal, visit www.wealdenwoods-freerange.co.uk

> An existing Fridays free range farm

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SEF 2020



> AHDB petitioners


The Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board has agreed to ballot its members on the continuation of a statutory levy in horticulture following months of wrangling over its future. The decision to hold a ‘yes or no’ vote on the future existence of AHDB Horticulture and the work it delivers on behalf of growers came after the organisation received valid requests for a ballot from more than 5% of horticulture levy payers. The AHDB had already pledged to introduce a new strategy and communicate more effectively with levy payers on how their money was spent following strong views expressed by levy payers in response to a Government-led ‘Request for Views’ published earlier this year. The board also committed to holding a regular ballot on the AHDB levy and how it is spent, a review of the levy system for potatoes and horticulture and a review of the organisation’s board and committee structure. Chair Nicholas Saphir said at that time: “We have listened carefully to the views expressed by levy payers in response to the Request for Views, and we are now committed to some key reforms to ensure we are fit for purpose in the changing times British agriculture is facing.” Levy payers, though, were unimpressed and at the end of September handed 107 formal requests for a ballot on the continuation of the AHDB to Ruth Ashfield, Strategy Director of AHDB

VOTE AGREED ON FUTURE OF AHDB HORTICULTURE Horticulture. Growers behind the campaign say a poll of almost 2,000 horticulture and potato levy payers in July showed that 92% of growers felt current AHDB policies were of no, or marginal, benefit to their business, while 80% did not want to pay a statutory levy. Vegetable grower and ballot co-organiser Peter Thorold said: “We have repeatedly tried to engage with senior representatives of our industry and politicians, but despite the fact that our ballot achieved a response rate above 33% – well above DEFRA’s own call for views – there has been little recognition of the depth of feeling that exists among growers towards this outdated and undemocratic tax on their businesses. “Over the past six months AHDB have repeatedly said that if growers feel strongly


enough about the levy, they should use the existing legal procedures to trigger a formal ballot on the continuation of a compulsory levy, so with the mandate that we received from our survey, that is what we have now done.” Within days, the AHDB announced that it would ask an independent company to organise the vote, expected to begin in January, and would “invite and encourage” every levy payer to take part. Ministers will make a decision on the future of the levy but would not be bound by the result of the ballot, the board said. Nicholas Saphir commented: “We welcome the opportunity for an open debate on the important role of AHDB and how it is the funding backbone of horticultural applied research and development to address crop protection, labour, resource use, and technical innovation.”

“The new steering system is a big step forward. I use it in tandem with GPS, setting out a straight first run with satellite steering and then letting Field Scanner take over for the rest of the field. “It’s fantastic for keeping on track and because it takes account of crops leaning over into the previous bout, you don’t suffer losses on the end of the header, as you would with GPS running straight up and down with a full header every time.” George Crane, LEXION 6800 TT, Norfolk, August 2020

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A West Sussex dairy farmer has been left “really disappointed” by news that the Government has not included dairy workers on its Shortage Occupation List (SOL). Tim Gue, who trades as Huddlestone Farmers and supplies milk to Tesco from the farm at Steyning, said it seemed “politicians, or civil servants, just don’t recognise the fact that dairy guys are hugely skilled these days. “We can’t just take anybody without spending lots of time training them to do the job – and those people simply aren’t out there in the first place. We are advertising now, so fingers crossed, but they aren’t queuing up and even if we can find someone suitable, they take time to train.” Despite pressure from the industry during a four-month consultation period, the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) left dairy workers off an SOL that includes butchers, bricklayers and welders. The MAC launched a six-week call for evidence in May into the skills shortage, with responses being used to support the evidence-based recommendations delivered to the Home Secretary. In the report, the MAC said it “did not recommend adding farmers to the SOL” and said much of the evidence submitted was “related to the more general sector than to this specific occupation code”. It leaves dairy farmers that rely on skilled foreign workers worried that they could face a labour shortage next year when the new points-based immigration system is implemented. “I don’t think the Government appreciates how technical all farm work is these days,” said Tim. “It’s not just dairy workers. If you drive a combine or operate a sprayer or seed drill these days, the level of competence needed is incredible compared with 30 or 40 years ago. “Not only that, but the welfare implications of not having the right staff on dairy farms are huge. Of course we will look after our stock, but it’s made more difficult by not being able to bring in the skilled teams we are used to.” Royal Association Of British Dairy Farmers (RABDF) Managing Director Matt

© Telegraph Media Group Limited 2020 Knight said: “There’s no doubt this latest failure to recognise dairy workers will leave the UK dairy industry with a labour shortage, with some of the largest dairy producers in the UK relying on skilled foreign labour. “There are real concerns that post-2021 some of our largest, most technically advanced dairy farms could be lost due to their reliance on foreign labour. Should this happen the repercussions would be felt right across the industry, with associated businesses such as feed companies and veterinary practices also affected, let alone the impact on milk supply.”


Campaigners are hoping MPs will approve a vital amendment to the Agriculture Bill that would strengthen the role of the Trade and Agriculture Commission. While the Lords voted in favour of the NFU-backed amendment, tabled by Lord Curry, by 107 votes, it will only become law if it goes on to be approved in the House of Commons later this month. The Trade and Agriculture Commission was established this summer following a high-profile public campaign on food standards that led to a petition signed by more than one million people and 78,000 letters being sent to MPs across the land. News that Lord Curry’s amendment, which would allow Parliament to be given independent advice on the impact of every trade deal on food and farming standards, was welcomed by NFU President Minette Batters. “It is fantastic that the House of Lords have voted for Lord Curry’s amendment,” she said. “We believe

the role of the Trade and Agriculture Commission is crucial to providing proper parliamentary oversight of our future trade policy and it is encouraging to see Peers support this view. “Last night (22 September) the House of Lords reflected the strength of feeling on this issue in the country at large. They were right to strengthen the Agriculture Bill to provide better scrutiny of future trade deals. I hope MPs will not ignore this strength of feeling when the Bill returns to the House of Commons.” Meanwhile both the RSPCA and The British Veterinary Association (BVA) welcomed the Lords’ backing for another amendment aimed at protecting animal welfare standards. The BVA said the “crucial clause”, voted through on a majority of 95, would require agricultural and food imports to the UK to meet domestic standards and have “due regard for animal sentience”. James Russell, BVA President, said the result was


“a huge win for animal welfare and a decisive vote of confidence in the UK’s farming industry, which works incredibly hard to keep our globally renowned welfare standards high. We have long argued that the UK cannot commit to raising the bar domestically while allowing in goods that don’t meet the high standards that British consumers rightly want and expect.” The RSPCA again warned that the battle was only half won, with the amendment needing to be approved by the House of Commons before it would become law. Chief Executive Chris Sherwood said: “The Government must now honour its manifesto promise and back this amendment. If it doesn’t, MPs must vote with their conscience and reflect the strong feelings of the public. It’s a choice between protecting the UK’s globally recognised high farm animal welfare standards or allowing in products like chlorinated chicken and hormone beef from abroad.”


EXPORT VIDEO UNVEILED A new video showcasing British farming and food was unveiled at a huge international food exhibition in China at the end of September. SIAL China 2020 is one of the first large-scale food exhibitions to take place since lockdown and the most important show in China for the meat sectors. The levy-funded export video, which showcases high-quality British produce and has been tailored for the Chinese market, is described as “the first element of a suite of digital content being launched globally by AHDB (the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board) in a bid to develop British farm produce exports”. The video, which will be shown on the British meat stand at the event in Shanghai, has taken more than a year to produce, with several different versions edited to suit specific markets such as China, Japan and the Middle East. Jonathan Eckley, Head of Asia Pacific Export at AHDB, said the video was “all about positioning British agriculture as a producer of high-quality, premium products”, adding: “It highlights our beautiful landscapes, environment, sustainability, heritage, integrity, traceability and high welfare standards.” After its premiere, the film will be distributed in China via Weibo and We Chat,

The use of slug pellets containing metaldehyde outdoors will be banned from the end of March 2022, farming Minister Victoria Prentis has announced. Ms Prentis, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at DEFRA, has confirmed that the sale and distribution of existing stocks will not be permitted beyond 31 March 2021, with a further year granted for the use-up period. The news follows a Government announcement in December 2018 that metaldehyde would be withdrawn, only for the decision to be reversed after a legal challenge and High Court ruling in August 2019 that saw the previous expiry dates reinstated. DEFRA has said pesticides containing ferric phosphate can provide effective control without carrying the same risks to wildlife and has noted the role of alternative methods of pest control, including planting slug resistant crop varieties, selectively timing irrigation and harvest and sowing seeds more deeply into the soil. The Metaldehyde Stewardship Group (MSG) spearheaded a decade long campaign to promote responsible use of metaldehyde slug pellets.

The CLA has welcomed the fact that the VAT cut for tourism businesses, which helps farmers and landowners operating in this area by reducing the tax from 20% to 5%, will continue until at least the end of March 2021. Introduced as a response to the Covid-19 pandemic, the cut has helped diversified farm businesses compete for visitors in the tourism sector. CLA President Mark Bridgeman said:

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the equivalents to social media channels like Facebook and Twitter. SIAL China is the most important meat show in China. Normally held in May, it was delayed because of the Covid-19 outbreak.


METALDEHYDE SLUG PELLETS MSG chairman David Cameron said that while metaldehyde was now nearing the end of its life, the stewardship initiative had played an enormously important role. “The campaign started in 2008 when metaldehyde first came to the attention of water companies,” he said. This was at a time when the


alternative treatment to control slugs – the UK’s most devastating pest – was not yet available. “Pesticide stewardship has now gained a vital place in supporting the agricultural sector,” he said. The MSG has reiterated that between now and the end of March 2022, metaldehyde products should be used in accordance with their labels and that Get Pelletwise best practice guidelines must be followed.

VAT CUT CONTINUES “This extension will help the sector’s recovery from the first wave and help weather the storm of the second, but for UK tourism to succeed in the long term, we will need to ensure we are competitive with other holiday hotspots such as France, Spain and Greece, all of which charge far

lower than the UK standard of 20% VAT. “Although the peak trade season is over, we want to be clear to the public that rural tourism businesses have gone to great lengths to become Covid-safe and continue to work hard to ensure a safe and enjoyable holiday.”







Four years on from a pollution incident that ended in a recent court case, Plumpton College is a very different place, with impressive results, a top Ofsted grade and rising student numbers, Principal Jeremy Kerswell has stressed. In an exclusive interview with South East Farmer, he pointed out that the court case, which saw the judge at Hove Crown Court fine the college £50,000 and order it to pay costs of almost £45,000 following a prosecution by The Environment Agency, referred to a pollution incident that had happened in 2016. Since then the college and farm have thrived under a new management team and has welcomed record-breaking numbers of land-based students as it continues to achieve some of the highest pass rates amongst its peers nationally, he added. In her summing up, the judge in the case was careful to point out that “the immediate and direct course of this event was human error” on the part of an employee who left the college in 2017. She said the event was not caused by poor pollution control systems but by “the direct and inexplicable course of behaviour by a man trusted and an integral part of the management of the college”. He was responsible, she said, for taking the wrong actions, then concealing what he had and had not done and not alerting anyone to the problem. The judge pointed out that following the appointment of a new management team in 2015 it was evident that the college had tackled a number of challenges that had affected its performance over previous years. Central to that had been “a rapid improvement in teaching and learning and a raising of standards and expectations across the whole college”, said Jeremy.

While it made significant improvements, in May 2016 the college was judged by Ofsted as Requires Improvement, although its ‘leadership and management’ received a Good grade in recognition of the changes that had already been implemented and its ‘direction of travel’. By February 2018, following a re-inspection, the college was graded as Good overall, and six months later it had attained the coveted Outstanding badge specifically for its support and wellbeing of students. The college enjoyed a record-breaking intake this September, with the new cohort of agriculture students learning at the college farm, which is today accredited by Red Tractor and has the prestigious LEAF Marque for its environmentally friendly farming practices. “LEAF is the lead organisation nationally for promoting sustainable food and farming and environmental stewardship,” said Jeremy. “Less than 5% of total farmed area in the UK is LEAF Marque certified and we are very proud of what we have achieved.” The latest figures show the college has a 93% student retention rate and a 96% pass rate, leading to 89% achievement of study programme main qualifications, putting it in the top quartile nationally. It is achieving impressive exam pass rates of 90%+ on all technical qualifications, together with high maths and English GCSE grades. It has established a number of important partnerships with government agencies and sector groups, including the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board, WineGB and many others, cementing its role in the industry and ensuring it can play its part in delivering the next generation of

farmers, growers and specialists. The farm team has been overhauled and is gaining considerable recognition, with team members reaching the finals of national awards and three new trainee teachers on the staff. With investment in the future continuing, in March 2021 the college is set to open a £3.5m tourist destination and Horticulture Centre of Excellence in Brighton and the following year it is hoping to open a new, £7m agri-food centre at its Plumpton site. “The college has achieved a huge amount, but the student experience is still what we most care about,” Jeremy summed up. “That’s why I am particularly pleased that despite a dip in the number of 16 to18 year-olds locally and nationally, we have seen an upturn in the number of students from across the South East who are choosing to study our programmes. “Coupled with a drive for continuous improvement, this will have a major impact on our farming and wider land-based industries in coming years.”

CHANGE TO EVENT DATE With uncertainty still surrounding any real return to ‘normality’ as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, AgriBriefing has announced that LAMMA 2021 will not be held on its usual date in January. The event, touted as the UK’s leading agricultural machinery equipment and service show, is held at the NEC in Birmingham but attracts farmers, growers, dealers and manufacturers from across the country. With no real sign that the pandemic restrictions will be lifted by January, the event has been rescheduled to 25-26 May 2021 in the hope that it can then go ahead as an in-person event. The plan is for LAMMA 2022 to revert to the normal


early January date. Referring to LAMMA as “a key part of the industry calendar”, Elisabeth MorkEidem, Group Events Director at AgriBriefing, said that despite record advance bookings, “pushing on with a January show under the current circumstances does not feel like the right thing to do”. She added: “This has not been an easy decision, but listening to the wishes of visitors, exhibitors and sponsors, this will provide the best opportunity to ensure that everyone gets the experience and the value they have come to expect from LAMMA.”

#CONTROLTHECONTROLLABLE Farmers who have done their bit to reduce the risk of TB affecting their business are being encouraged to take part in the first ever TBAS (TB Advisory Service) Awards. TBAS, funded by DEFRA through the Rural Development Programme for England, is looking to “champion the hard work and effort many farmers are doing to reduce the risk of a TB breakdown and the impact TB can have on farm businesses”. TBAS says it wants to highlight “a willingness to #ControlTheControllable” by going above and beyond what government asks of farmers, and points out: “All too often, especially in the national media, farmers are criticised for not doing what they can to prevent TB. We want to show everyone that this is not the case and that farmers as always are rising to the challenge and eager to embrace change for the better to future proofing their businesses. “If you are a farmer or know a colleague who has invented a badger proof trough, revised breeding plans to reduce the impact TB would have on the business or changed buying practices to reduce the chances of bringing TB onto the farm please enter or nominate someone. We want the simple stuff and the more elaborate – to show just how resourceful and innovative farmers and advisors can be.” Award sponsors are Arla, NFU, Sell My livestock, Suckled Beef Producers Association and VetPartners, while the experienced judging panel features Stuart Roberts, Deputy President of the NFU, James Wood, a leading TB epidemiologist and co-contributor to the Godfray review, Nikki Hopkins, farm vet and BCVA President, and Andy Robertson, badger ecologist and member of the TBAS technical board. Entries close on 31 December. To nominate visit www.tbas.org.uk/tbas-awards-entry-form/ or email info@tbas.org.uk

FREEZE ON FEES FOR LICENSEES Soil Association Certification has continued its freeze on fees for all licensees until 31 March 2021 in response to the economic difficulties caused for many businesses by the Covid-19 pandemic. As well as keeping core fees at 2019 levels, the organisation is offering Soil Association Certified businesses with organic sales turnover below £250,000 free entry (up to two entries per business) into the BOOM (Best of Organic Market) Awards, which will open for entries in December. Clare McDermott, Soil Association Certification Business Development Director, said the move was a response to “the unprecedented pressure on businesses, farmers and food suppliers across the supply chain” caused by the pandemic. She went on: “In response to the predicted uncertainty ahead, we hope this price freeze will allow our certified growers, producers and processors to continue the fantastic work they’ve been doing to secure a resilient and sustainable food system – for now and for the future.” Soil Association Certification was the first certification body to suspend physical inspections and quickly introduced additional protocols to allow inspection to continue and ensure minimal disruption to the issue of new organic licences.

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A celebration of UK wine, a showcase of all that’s best in the industry and a premier trade show is being planned for next year. The Vineyard Show, planned for 24 November 2021 at the Kent County Showground, will be an unmissable event for anyone working in viticulture. Launched by Vineyard magazine, this all-new show will take place after harvest, allowing growers and winemakers to enjoy a UK-based event at a relatively quiet time of the year. Vineyard is proud to announce that Sarah Calcutt, National Fruit Show Chair for the past 11 years and a Livery Member of the Worshipful Company of Fruiterers, has agreed to be Event Director, working closely with exhibitors, producers and sponsors to ensure that The Vineyard Show quickly becomes an unmissable event in the UK's wine industry calendar. Sarah said she is “delighted to be joining the Vineyard magazine team in what is going to be a very exciting venture for everyone connected with viticulture in the UK”. The Kent County Showground, easily accessible from the M20 motorway, is an ideal venue for the event, with sufficient hardstanding to allow the latest winemaking equipment to be shown. With over 4,000 sq m of space available in state-ofthe-art buildings on the site, Vineyard magazine is confident that this first-class venue will allow this fledgling show to grow and develop for many years to come. A bonus for visitors is that one of the show's partners, WineGB will host seminars and workshops at the event. Expert speakers will cover viticulture, winemaking and marketing topics, aimed at new entrants to the industry as well as those already established. WineGB Operations Manager and incoming editor of Vineyard Jo Cowderoy commented: “Shows like this are so important to an industry, a chance to hear from experts, discuss important topics, network with peers, and see in action vineyard and winery equipment. This will be a great event, all under one roof and without the need to travel overseas.” Another highlight will be a structured wine tasting by the world-renowned wine writer Matthew Jukes, who will be talking about six wines he has chosen for deeper study. Visitors will also have the opportunity to taste Matthew’s ‘50 most influential UK wines’ as judged by him in his monthly Vineyard column, with a self-pour tasting of




some the UK’s best sparkling and still wines. Vineyard Publisher Jamie McGrorty added: “The Vineyard Show will provide vineyard owners, winemakers and growers with a fantastic one day event. It will bring everyone in the industry together to view the latest technology and meet the suppliers that are supporting our industry as well as enjoying a chance to compare notes after the season’s close.” Sarah Calcutt is well known throughout the top fruit industry, an area from which many new vine growers have come. As well as chairing the hugely successful National Fruit Show, Sarah organised Produced in Kent’s inaugural Food and Drink conference in 2018 and organised a series of global delegates in different countries for the European Blackcurrant Association. She helped deliver a technical conference in 2017 for the Worshipful Company of Fruiterers and she was recently appointed as a non-executive director of New Covent Garden Market Authority. “Viticulture is the fastest-growing sector of farming in the UK; we are ideally placed geographically as well as geologically speaking to take on, and beat, the best in the world. A show dedicated to everything that goes into a great consumer experience can only be a great step forward for the British wine industry,” she commented. “I will be the main point of contact for exhibitors and will be working with sponsors to make sure they enjoy the profile they deserve. This really is our time to shine and my job is to help make that happen.” For enquiries please contact Sarah Calcutt on 07827 642396

COVID-19 LIFTS BEEF SALES The Covid-19 pandemic has probably done more for UK beef sales than the lifting of the USA’s long standing ban on EU beef, according to industry expert Roger Waters. The South East Marts director and team leader felt the renewed demand for traceable, locally sourced food would have a bigger impact on sales than the change that allowed the much trumpeted first shipment to leave for the United States at the end of September. The Government said the end of the longstanding ban, introduced in the wake of the BSE outbreak in 1996, marked a historic moment for UK farmers and food producers.

“Today’s news means the sector can now begin to reap the economic benefits of trade with the US – with industry estimating beef exports will be worth £66 million over the next five years,” a government statement said as the first shipment left from Northern Ireland. While Environment Secretary George Eustice said “this landmark milestone means more people around the globe can enjoy our produce” and International Trade Secretary Liz Truss described it as “a historic moment for British farming”, Roger felt increased demand from farm shops was more important, at least in the South East. “Beef in this country is high quality and


produced to good welfare standards, and while the Covid-19 pandemic restricted some sales, farm shops and other local outlets have been very busy with local beef,” said the Hailsham-based auctioneer. “This is a good opportunity for local producers. Beef in this country is traceable and Farm Assured and the public clearly welcomes that reassurance.” Karen Pierce, British Ambassador to the USA, explained that sales had been allowed to resume after the US Food Safety and Inspection Service’s Audit Report published in March 2020 confirmed that UK meat hygiene systems and controls were “of a suitable, equivalent standard”.

SUPPORTING FARMERS AND GROWERS LOCALLY AND NATIONALLY From highly successful political representation, first-class information, advice and guidance, to industry-leading services and discounts – we make it our business to add value to yours. We’ve been supporting farmers and growers since 1908, and with offices across the South East, we’re here for you. Pop into your local office, call NFU CallFirst on: 0370 845 8458 or visit nfuonline.com

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KEY: NFU Group Secretary/ NFU Mutual Insurance Agent

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With rural crime rarely out of the news, Sussex police has responded by launching a specialist team to work with the farming community and catch the criminals involved. September’s South East Farmer revealed that the cost of rural crime across the South East region in 2019 reached £8.7m, with high value tractors, quad bikes, expensive GPS systems and livestock among the principal targets. Nationwide, the figure revealed in the NFU Mutual’s annual crime report reached £54m. Sussex Police’s Communications Manager Ellie Treagust outlined the response being made by that force to tackle crime – including setting up a specialist Rural Crime Team. “Rural crime has been gaining focus in policing in recent years. In the summer of 2018, the National Police Chiefs’ Council launched the Rural Affairs Strategy and the Wildlife Crime Strategy, both of which have the support of all chief constables, the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners


(APCC) and the Home Office.


At a more local level, Sussex Police has its own Rural Crime Strategy designed to tackle homegrown issues. It looks at agricultural, wildlife, environmental and heritage crimes, and aims to: • Provide an effective policing service to the rural community • Make our rural communities feel safer • Build effective partnerships to respond to the needs of rural communities • Increase the confidence of rural communities in the police


To complement the strategy, Sussex Police has also launched a specialist Rural Crime Team (RCT) to work closely with the farming community, listening to their needs and catching the criminals who are causing havoc in the countryside.


In Surrey, the NFU has joined forces with the CLA to call on Surrey Police to devote some of its promised extra manpower to tackling rural crime, including offences linked to lockdown. They raised their concerns at an annual liaison meeting with Surrey Police Chief Constable Gavin Stephens and the county’s Police and Crime Commissioner David Munro. The meeting, held at Etherley Farm, Ockley, courtesy of Surrey NFU deputy chairman Richard Keen, who later showed the visitors his mixed holding, considered the force’s approach to fighting rural crime, discussing resources, current trends and how farmers and landowners can work with police. Surrey NFU chairman Steve Conisbee, a farmer, grazier and butcher from Fetcham near Leatherhead, said: “We heard the good news that Surrey Police is gaining 250 extra officers during the coming year, so called ‘Boris bobbies’, as part of a national programme to recruit 20,000 officers. “We emphasised our wish to see some of these new officers being assigned to work with Surrey’s two rural officers, given the increases of rural crime within the county, particularly during lockdown.

Made up of two sergeants, eight constables and six police community support officers (PCSOs), the team will be operating out of bases at Midhurst and Heathfield. Chief Inspector Steve Biglands, from the RCT, said: “We are keenly aware of how devastating crimes like burglary and criminal damage can be to our farmers; it’s not just the loss of the item that affects you, it’s also losing the feeling of safety and the potential for income. “We want the community to know that we are here for them; we want to build relationships and work closely with you to find out how we can best help you. The more reports of crime we have, the better we can focus our resources on areas that really need us. Everyone deserves our protection, no matter how isolated your property or business. We are here for you.” Please report crimes online at www.sussex.police.uk/reportcrime or by calling 101. In an emergency, always call 999.

“Farmers and growers, myself included, continue to report far too many incidents of livestock worrying, when dogs chase and attack sheep and cattle, along with fly-tipping, trespass and poaching.” The CLA was represented by Surrey branch chairman Lisa Creaye-Griffin and Regional Director Michael Valenzia, who commented: “Many farmers and landowners have seen a rise in issues since lockdown, especially around livestock worrying linked to increased access and a lack of knowledge of the countryside among a minority of visitors. “The CLA has been actively promoting the Countryside Code and has called on the Education Secretary to reintroduce it onto the school curriculum. The police must also play their part; we are pleased to hear Surrey Police is getting extra officers and some of these must be used to fight rural crime in the county.”

“TREAT RURAL CRIME AS A PRIORITY” CALL The NFU has urged the government to treat rural crime as a priority issue for rural communities following a round table meeting that included, DEFRA, the Home Office, police and other rural organisations. The NFU wants what it calls the “archaic” 1831 Game Act to be updated to make it easier for police to catch and prosecute criminals, particularly those taking part in hare coursing as harvest ends.

It says current legislation relating to hare coursing does not consistently give police and courts full seizure and forfeiture powers for the dogs and vehicles that are crucial elements of this illegal activity. They also cannot recover kenneling costs when dogs have been seized, and fines are capped at just £2,500. The NFU believes amending the law on hare coursing to give police and courts these powers


would be a significant boost to enforcing the law and making reoffending more difficult. NFU Deputy President Stuart Roberts said: “It’s about time the government gave rural crime the attention that it deserves, and it is shameful that one of the crucial laws intended to combat rural crime is centuries old. Simple changes to legislation could give the police the power they need to properly enforce the law and crack down on rural crime.”

FARM LOANS 3 months - 25 years


GPS THEFTS NFU Mutual has joined forces with police and agricultural machinery manufacturers to tackle a surge in thefts of expensive guidance systems. Across Europe, thefts of tractor GPS systems have surged, with John Deere StarFire receivers and cab display units currently one of the most targeted systems. The insurer reports that NaVCIS, the organisation set up to help coordinate agricultural vehicle theft reports, is being alerted to multiple GPS thefts from farms and machinery dealers almost every day. In response, farmers are being urged to make sure any GPS kit offered for sale outside dealer networks has not been stolen. Bob Henderson, NFU Mutual National Technical Engineering Manager, said: “Having tractor GPS kit stolen during harvest is hugely disruptive. Not only do replacement units – which can cost £8,000 and more – have to be sourced, fitted and programmed, but modern farms can’t work effectively during the vital harvesting period without them. “As the main insurer of the UK’s farmers we are working with police and tractor manufacturers to tackle this worrying new crime trend.” Farmers can call their local dealership to check the serial numbers of its popular StarFire system, but while the database includes a marker for stolen equipment it stresses that not all John Deere thefts are reported to it, and that the system cannot provide proof that equipment offered for sale online is legitimate. Superintendent Andy Huddleston, national police lead for agricultural machinery and vehicle thefts, said: “Making careful checks on the provenance of any GPS kit offered for sale outside the dealer network can stop criminals making money from these crimes and halt the surge. “The service introduced by John Deere dealers makes these checks easier by enabling farmers to check if a StarFire serial number is on their database of stolen systems.” He also urged farmers to be very wary of buying GPS kits which have had serial number stickers removed.


• Activate PIN security on GPS kit with your own unique number • Keep tractors and combines with GPS fitted stored out of sight when possible • Check serial numbers of second-hand kit offered for sale • Remove GPS kit from tractors and other machinery and store it securely when not in use

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Guest columnist Wyn Grant evaluates the deal


Writing in The Spectator, Martin Vander Weyer dismissed the trade deal concluded between the United Kingdom and Japan in September as “little more than cheese and biscuits”. International Trade Secretary Liz Truss is, of course, preoccupied with cheese, and Wensleydale and other cheeses were duly given the protected status of ‘Geographical Indications’. Of perhaps greater interest is what is referred to as “strong” tariff reductions for UK beef exports and other meats. Japan lacks sufficient agricultural land to feed its population and is therefore reliant on imports to make up the gap. In the case of beef, it cannot meet 60% of its needs, so there is scope for imports to win market share. Although Japan is a high income country, years of sluggish economic growth and little increase in real wages has made consumers cautious. Their purchase decisions in relation to meat are primarily driven by price. Beef is usually eaten as part of a meal rather than as a main ingredient, and in relatively small quantities when compared with UK portions. It is commonly sold in supermarkets in thin slices, ready for cooking. Steaks, however, are slowly gaining popularity, often being supplied by imported US sirloin and fillet cuts. Imported beef is generally cheaper than homeproduced products. The UK Government has not revealed what the exact tariff reduction is for beef exports to Japan. However, an earlier agreement with Australia and the United States saw tariffs fall from 38.5% to 27%, so it is likely to be a similar amount. Given the way in which consumers make decisions, that is still a significant barrier, although Japanese beef producers, particularly in the northern island of Hokkaido, which is said to produce some of the highest quality beef, have been sufficiently concerned to call for additional government subsidies. Welcome though it is in symbolic terms as the first trade deal negotiated by the UK since Brexit, and arguably better than the EU’s deal with Japan, it is not going to be a game changer. Potentially, a trade deal with the United States offers far more promise. Beef exports to the US from the UK have been banned since the BSE outbreak in 1996, but that ban was lifted in March following a three week inspection in summer 2019, in part funded by the AHDB. This opens the door to an estimated £66m of export opportunities for farmers over the next five years. The first exports of beef are due to arrive in the US in the next few weeks. As far as a trade agreement with the US is concerned, one major issue has been exports from the US, in particular exports of beef raised with the use of growth hormones. Only a limited amount of this beef is allowed into the


Wyn Grant is Emeritus Professor of Politics at the University of Warwick and author of books and articles on agriculture including The Common Agricultural Policy.

EU, although the quota for non-hormone beef has recently been increased in an attempt to ease transatlantic trade tensions. US negotiators would want the UK to grant access to its markets for both types of beef, something that concerns UK livestock farmers. In any case, progress on a trade deal with the US is unlikely to make much progress until after the presidential election in November. Should Joe Biden win, he has made it clear that a trade agreement with the UK is in jeopardy if there is seen to be any threat to the Northern Ireland peace process because of the way in which Brexit occurs, in particular by restoring a border between the north and south of Ireland. Matters would not be straightforward even if President Trump were re-elected. Leaving aside some of the demands likely to be made by US negotiators, any agreement has to be approved by the House of Representatives. This is likely to remain in control of the Democrats, who are even more concerned than the Republicans about the Northern Ireland peace process. House speaker Nancy Pelosi has made it clear that any deal will be vetoed if the peace process is seen to be in difficulty. The impact of exports to Japan on the fortunes of UK beef farmers is likely to be relatively marginal, particularly given the need to make product price competitive after taking account of continuing tariff barriers. A deal with the US is some way in the future. UK beef farmers therefore face a period of continuing uncertainty against the background of a likely no-deal Brexit.


Since April, banks have lent more than £53 billion to around 1.25 million UK businesses through Government Coronavirus Loan Schemes. Some banks have lent as much in the past five months as they have in the past five years. While our farming clients have been focussed on buying land, development and diversification enterprises, banks have also been busy looking at overdrafts and repayment holidays. This frenzy of bank activity has taken bank staff away from normal business lending transactions, meaning it is taking longer to get credit approval. Given the huge amounts already lent this year, banks will become choosier about who they lend to. Naturally, banks will look more favourably at existing clients, clients with a good track record and traditional farming clients. However, this should not rule out farming clients with sound propositions looking to diversify or spread risk.

Banks will go through every application with a fine toothcomb. They need to know that plans are well thought through. It is, therefore, more important than ever that clients prepare borrowing applications properly and get professional advice from people who understand farming and finance. Borrowing applications must show the full story of how the business is operating through coronavirus and beyond, backed up with strong evidence. Having all the business and financial information and the borrowing application professionally presented will speed up the process and maximise the chances of success. Competitive loans are available for the right propositions from the high street, private banks and alternative lenders. There are more options than many realise. We’ve had recent successes for our clients from across the market.

FINANCE For a free no-obligation chat about your farm borrowing requirements, give us a call:


Director, Rural & Business Specialists Ltd T: 01474 816500 E: rob@randbs.co.uk

GRAHAM SANDERS Consultant, Rural & Business Specialists Ltd E: graham@randbs.co.uk


Farm Dispersal Sale LEng On behalf of John Paine Farms A S E ne biddi V I L Coldharbour Farm nli no o New Romney, Kent TN29 9ST

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Sale to commence at 10am Approx 700 Lots including: • • • • • •

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OF DOG THEFTS “Be careful what you wish for”, they say, but hoorah... at last those elusive clouds that previously avoided releasing their rain on our fields have come good. Lack of water this summer has taken its toll, but hopefully most plants will recover and thrive. We’ve recently put in some new grass leys. It’s always a relief to see the little green shoots emerging. Establishing any new crop takes time, effort and money, so it’s always good if the weather works in your favour. We needed the rain but now we’re hoping the autumn will be kind and winter will be short. In the spring farmers will need to check for leather jacket damage to their grass, as there’s large numbers of crane flies around this autumn. Many pheasants are appearing on our land chasing those tasty ‘daddy long legs’. Our spaniels are delighted as they find pheasant watching far more exciting than looking at sheep and cattle. The shooting season is fast approaching and the spaniels are eagerly anticipating getting those birds up on the wing.

Shooting has been specifically listed as an exempt activity from the ‘rule of six’ as long as reasonable measures have been taken to limit the transmission of Covid-19 and a health and safety risk assessment has been undertaken. Some large commercial shoots have decided not to operate this year though and overall there’s said to be a 27% reduction in shoot days taking place. In these strange times, there has been a shocking number of dog thefts; it’s worrying because working dogs are being particularly targeted. What a terrible ordeal for both the dog and the owner; it must be completely heart wrenching. I struggle to comprehend that people can be that cruel. With an economic downturn, rural crime is likely to rise and farms are often seen as easy targets. Once the autumn work is done, a little time spent viewing your farm from the aspect of an intruder and taking appropriate preventative measures could be time well spent. I think Brie our sheepdog is on her best behaviour because she’s trying to make amends for her recent act of vandalism. Today she performed a


> Protective wire was not such a good idea

> Grass seed emerging > The pheasants are wandering everywhere

> Hailsham market was full to capacity


> Ploughing with horses

> The cygnets are nearly as big as their mum

spectacular long-distance cast and text book lift bringing the lambs back to me for penning. I felt so proud of her. You have to allow me some bragging rights because we don’t always work in harmony. Brie hates criticism and revels in praise, (don’t we all). However she wasn’t popular when I left her in Shrek and popped into a garden to have a socially distanced chat for a maximum of ten minutes. On my return, I found a wire pulled out from under the dash board chewed into three pieces; tried the key... silence, we were going nowhere fast. Phoned other half... no reply. Found string and made up four slip leads and walked the mile home accompanied by my canine friends. After I called in a family mechanic to fix the damage, I decided to put in chicken wire around it to prevent a repeat offence. This turned out to be a bad idea as it got caught up in the steering and took me an hour to untangle. This was not one of my better days; it was dark by the time I got through my daily tasks. We’re going through lambs weekly and drawing off the finished ones. Hailsham market was overflowing with sheep yesterday, and the market team did a good job. Markets, auctioneers, haulage companies, abattoirs and butchers are all vital links in a functioning food chain. There’s a shortage of skilled butchers at the moment. The British Meat Processors’ Association has successfully ensured that butchery was added to the ‘shortage occupation’ list that will be used when they vet skilled migrants. However, we still need to train up more British butchers; it takes two years to become fully skilled. All links of the food chain need to be fully functional for the system to run smoothly. There’s been much talk within our family about climate change and the target of net zero carbon emissions by 2040, and how altering farming practices can be part of the solution. ‘Carbon sequestration’ has become a real

buzz phrase. I understand it refers to the capacity of grassland, cover crops, woodland, hedgerows etc, to capture carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store it. Also good news; grazing ruminants, which have been much demonised in the media lately, are now being heralded as a key part of the solution to help keep carbon in the ground. Farming needs all the positivity it can get, so it’s all for the good if our customers the consumers see us as working to save our planet. Nigel is a keen advocate of regenerative farming, whereas my other half is less keen to ditch the plough. Tilling the soil is an ancient practice and he wonders if this is a passing fad. I question why it has taken so long to realise that ploughing releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and that breaking up the structure is harmful for the soil? It’s an interesting debate. No ploughing matches this year due to Covid-19, but will they become consigned to the history books? Good ploughing is a skill; I love the sight of those beautiful horses pulling the plough and our grandsons like watching the tractors working. Last autumn we got rid of our inefficient oil burner and replaced it with an air source heat pump and on the whole we have been pleased with it. Last winter was relatively mild so perhaps it wasn’t fully tested, but it was pleasant having the whole house kept at a comfortable temperature. We still have a wood burner to light if we want the luxury of sitting beside a fire. There’s always a plentiful supply of wood, but we sometimes lack the time and energy to get it into the house. I was amused to find a renewable energy salesman knocking on our door this week. He wants to populate our farm with solar panels. As we live in an area of outstanding natural beauty I think it unlikely the planners would be so enthusiastic. But the money sounded tempting. > Brie guilty of vandalism

> The foursome canine workteam TO ADVERTISE CALL 01303 233883



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COVID-19 AND THE LAW Can I take my child on holiday during term-time? It has been a long and difficult year for most of us, with many considering finally taking a family holiday. With children having returned to school and travel plans frequently changing as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak, taking children on holiday during term-time may be a consideration for many parents. The rules concerning term-time holidays changed in 2013, and headteachers may no longer grant holidays of up to 10 days in ‘special circumstances’. Headteachers may now only grant permission for term-time absence in exceptional circumstances. But surely, we are living in exceptional circumstances? Perhaps not. In this article, we look at the rules surrounding children, term-time holidays and the coronavirus pandemic.


From the beginning of the Autumn term 2020, pupil attendance at school will be compulsory, and the usual rules concerning attendance will apply. This means that parents have a legal obligation to ensure their child attends school regularly. The school has a responsibility to record the attendance of pupils and follow up on any absence, and sanctions such as fines may be issued if parents fail their obligations. However, pupils will not be counted as absent where they cannot attend school for reasons related to coronavirus.


You may not take your child out of school during term time unless: You get permission from the school in advance. There are exceptional circumstances that require you to take this holiday – for example, the funeral of a family member, or illness.

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If you need to request permission for absence, you must do so by making a formal Request for Leave of Absence, a form which will be available from your child’s school. You must also submit evidence that supports the reasons for the absence no later than 21 days before you plan for your child to be absent from school. It will be for the headteacher to determine how long the child may be away from school.


If your request is denied, you may not take your child out of school. If you choose to do so, your child’s absence from school will be marked as ‘not authorised’. Where you continue to take your child out of school, or where your child is absent from school for more than the permitted number of days, the headteacher may make a request for you to be issued with a Fixed Penalty Notice by the local authority. The Fixed Penalty Notice is £60 per parent, per pupil. If you fail to pay the Fixed Penalty Notice within 21 days, this will increase to £120. Where you do not pay within 28 days, you will receive a summons to attend the Magistrates Court.


Consultant, Whitehead Monckton T: 01622 698013 E: DawnHarrison@Whitehead-Monckton.co.uk www.whitehead-monckton.co.uk



OUT AND ABOUT WITH NIGEL AKEHURST Husband and wife team Chris and Julie Jeffries purchased Northover Farm, a 153-acre holding, in Cross-in-Hand in 2011. The previous owners ran an equestrian business from the farm. With no previous experience, Chris and Julie started a sheep enterprise, gradually building the numbers up to around 150 breeding ewes. In 2016 their son Will gave up his job in London to join them as a partner in the farm business. Together they began researching different diversification ideas and came across hydrotherapy for horses.



“We were looking for an idea that would have a local market and wasn’t easy to copy,” said Will. During the research phase they discounted a lot of business plans because they weren’t different enough. “Horse hydrotherapy was something that seemed to satisfy our requirements. It’s locally relevant, with a lot of horse owners in the area. It used an investment we already had – the building. But I don’t mind telling you it was still a £150,000 investment,” said Chris. I asked Chris if they had considered applying for any diversification grants. “No, we’re both similar in that if we have an idea we want to get on with it. We didn’t want to delay starting, waiting for possible approval for 40% funding,” he replied. Though he admits they were fortunate they could afford it themselves. They sourced the treadmill, tanks and all the necessary kit from a manufacturer, and employed expert equestrian trainer Evonne Armstrong to run the centre. They opened for business in 2017 and have since worked with hundreds of horses, from top-class eventers to pet ponies, in thousands of sessions on their water treadmill and spa. In the process they have become experts in the field of aqua training and the leading hydrotherapy centre in the area. Sessions on their water treadmill and in the saltwater spa complement equine rehabilitation programmes and exercise regimes to deliver benefits to a horse’s physique, performance and attitude, explained Will. Costs range from £50 for an individual session to under £40 when bought as part of a package.


FOR HORSES This month Nigel visits Northover Farm in Cross-in-Hand, East Sussex, to meet father and son team Chris and Will Jeffries to find out more about their unique mix of equestrian and blueberry garden diversifications. Livery (www.northoverfarmretirementlivery.co.uk), using their excess stable and paddock capacity to offer a full retirement livery for a small number of new clients.


Will and Chris also use their immaculate pastures to make small hay bales each summer for


They also have a well-appointed American barn stable block, used for their own horses and guest horses staying for rehabilitation programmes and holiday livery. Horses are looked after by their full-time livery manager, Michelle, and their groom, Alex, who are both experienced horsewomen and horse owners themselves. In a further diversification, they have recently launched a new brand, Northover Farm Retirement


themselves and a few key customers, providing a useful income of around £5,000 annually.


When the lockdown forced them to close the hydrotherapy centre, Will and Chris took up the Government’s furlough scheme for their full-time staff members for two months. Since reopening

NORTHOVER FARM, EAST SUSSEX in June, they have put in place Covid-19 secure measures including a socially distanced horse handover area, hand sanitisers in the hydrotherapy centre and the stable block and an increased cleaning and disinfecting regime in customer and staff areas. Business is now picking up, said Will, explaining that they had enjoyed one of their best ever months in terms of new customer acquisition in June. He believes a lot of the public are still coming out of a collective hibernation but is confident that business will return to pre-Covid-19 levels soon.


Before the horse hydrotherapy centre went in, Chris had run a breeding flock of around 150 ewes, with upwards of 400 sheep on the farm with the lambs. With around 115 acres of available pasture, they struggled to keep enough grass in front of the lambs, which meant buying in two tonnes of feed a month during the winter months to fatten them. “There was little to no profit in the job and we couldn’t carry on grazing that number of sheep. We

were suffering sheep sickness, which was indicative of the problem,” said Chris. “Having the hydro in place allowed us to make the commercial decision to reduce the sheep, with Brexit being another influencing factor,” Will added. Both Chris and Will still see a future for sheep on their farm. Apart from anything else they are the most cost-effective way of ‘keeping the grass under control’, particularly in the winter months, Chris added. Since reducing their numbers to around 30 ewes, the only inputs are fly strike prevention and the occasional wormer, when faecal egg counts (done themselves on the farm) show it is needed. They also move the sheep on to a fresh paddock every ten days or so, which helps stay in front of the worms. All lambs are sold fat at Hailsham Livestock Market. To their great surprise, they’ve seen really good prices this year, topping the market at £114 a head for their best pen. With Brexit around the corner, they presume the buoyant market must be down to many breeders taking similar action to them. “Maybe like us a lot of people have cut their

flocks down and there is a shortage of supply, so if you can get them fat on grass like us or have the wherewithal to put a lot of feed into them, there are good prices to be had,” said Chris.


Another diversification project that got the green light was planting blueberries. After a bit of study and experimentation, they planted 400 blueberry plants in late 2017, turning over an acre of their family farm to a blueberry garden. They also installed an irrigation system and a lot of electric fencing to keep deer and badgers out. Despite a few naysayers who said it couldn’t be done, they got their first crop of Duke blueberries in the summer of 2018. The plants have since thrived, delivering increasing yields year on year in 2019 and 2020. “We don’t spray - all they get is a bit of nitrogen in the soil. We take what we get. Thankfully we haven’t had any major pest issues so far,” said Will. The berries are naturally grown, hand-picked and blast-chilled within two hours of picking to increase their shelf life. We sell them to local farm shops and through a wholesaler in Brighton, so they have very few miles on them by the time they are eaten.” This year saw a three-fold increase in their sales on the previous year, with around 600kg of fruit picked, packed, and delivered. All the picking is carried out by on-farm and family labour, with Will’s wife Hannah also mucking in during the busiest >> times.


• 135 acres High Weald Farm with 115 acres of pasture

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OUT AND ABOUT WITH NIGEL AKEHURST << “At our micro scale, employing a team of pickers would wipe out any profit in the job. So we have to be well organised and work extremely hard!” said Will. The plants should have a life span of around 25 years and are expected to reach maximum cropping by year five. One significant cost is the pine bark chippings required to keep the PH of the soil at the right acidity level for the plants. Having tested some of their own on-farm fir trees, they are hoping to use the annual chippings as mulch, thus reducing the ongoing cost of maintenance.


To help develop a recognisable brand, Will came up with the name Fruits of the Farm, registered the domain name and built a website (www.fruitsofthefarm.co.uk) to market the berries locally to farm shops. The story of their family farm really resonates with local retailers and this year they generated around £3,500 worth of berry sales during the month of July, perhaps partly helped by more people shopping locally during lockdown. Will is also proud of the fact that their berries are sold, and most likely eaten, within a 50-mile radius of the farm.



One area that both Chris and Will worry about is water. They still have vivid memories of early March 2018 when water pipes burst during the thaw, causing major disruption to supplies in and around the Heathfield area. It became apparent how reliant most farmers are on mains water, with no water storing capacity.

> Chris

With a bore hole and large rainwater tanks on site at Northover Farm, Chris and Will worked with the local NFU to set up a water round for local farmers and used their bowser to make deliveries to those most in need. “There were farmers with hundreds of lambs and nowhere to store water except buckets,” remarked Will. Commenting on the extreme weather of the last few years: “We have lots of water but at the wrong time. How do we store it, how do we pump it, how to do we get it on the ground? We are going to have to solve those problems,” said Chris.


In an effort to address the water issue, they had a hydrological survey carried out to identify possible sites for a borehole. Having located a suitable site, the borehole was installed at a cost of a £100 a meter to dig. “It’s 60 metres down. To try to be economical we put in a single-phase pump, which was a mistake – it isn’t powerful enough. We’d need to put in threephase and a new pump to make it work properly,” said Chris “You have to test the water and the thing that amazed us was, even that far down, it contained e-coli. There were also some heavy metals, which is quite common. We will have to install a UV filter and treat the water before it can be used,” he continued.


Chris seems unimpressed with what he’s seen so far on the Environmental Land Management scheme (ELMS) proposals. “The refusal of not just government but policy

Jeffries next to the solar panel powered electric fencing by the Blueberry garden


makers to link food to farming is horrifying. ‘The Environmental Land Management Scheme?’ How do you improve soil when you’ve only got a small amount of soil on top of clay in the weald? “Unless tier one offers a sensible return for whatever it is we need to do, we won’t be joining,” he continued, though they admit they’ll have to generate an extra £10,000 revenue elsewhere to cover the loss. “Other than the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) payment, we’ve never taken any money from anyone for tree planting, hedges or fences. We’ve done it all ourselves. “I refuse to have someone come here and tell me what to do. We are extremely environmentally aware – it’s the future of the land and the future of the farm. I don’t want someone coming here saying ‘that doesn’t connect with that, so you can’t do that’,” said Chris.


Both Chris and Will voted to leave. Chris for fundamental reasons on sovereignty. “I knew there would be a price to pay and I’m willing to pay it,” he said. Will was more torn but felt the short-term pain would be worth it in the long run. His decision was also influenced by his recent experience in farming and producing food. “If I’d still been working in finance then I might have voted differently, but having been involved in producing food and understanding both the need to support farmers and the importance of food security for the future, I felt Brexit, if handled properly, would be an opportunity to reconnect


people with local produce and potentially reinvigorate farming across the country.” He worries, though, about the current state of negotiations and where we will end up. In terms of agriculture they both want to see a genuine return to science-based decision making. “We can now set the rules, though I don’t see the courage to do that. We could end up in such a fudge situation we can’t do anything,” said Chris.


I ask Will what he has planned for the future? “It’s really trying to make the most of what we’ve got here. We’ve got stable capacity. We’ve got some nice fields, paddocks with some beautiful views. You’ve got a buzzard above you you’ve got wild deer. “I really believe in this area – in what it offers; its beauty and amenity. We’ve got to find a way of

bringing people here to enjoy the setting. So we’re now looking into some on-farm accommodation,” he replied. “We will be interested to see, given the current circumstances, what the attitude of the local authority is,” added Chris. “People will still want to have a holiday or have a break but I think will be wary of getting on a plane. Fundamentally what you are selling is that serenity; that feeling that you are off the grid. If you choose to, you needn’t see another human being for days on end. The setting and the experience is the key,” continued Will. Northover Farm is great example of a family farm that has embraced diversification, by thinking outside the box to build a more resilient and locally relevant business for the future. I look forward to following their progress as they develop the next chapter.


> Chris;

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It won’t be the same, but it will still be a superb showcase for UK fruit and a meeting place ‘for growers, by growers’ – that’s the promise as the National Fruit Show becomes The National Fruit Show Live! With an opening address by Lord Krebs, former Chairman of the British Food Standards Agency, the 87th National Fruit Show will offer a huge range of incisive speakers, informative presentations, networking and impressive fruit competitions, as well as exhibitor stands, a cider contest and even a post-show drinks reception. The difference is that all aspects of the show, on Thursday 22 October, will be held on line as a result of Covid-19 restrictions, and while that may sound like a substantial difference, the show’s organisers have worked incredibly hard to create something special under difficult circumstances. As Marden Fruit Show Society President Teresa Wickham points out elsewhere, visitors “will have access to great speakers and presentations and be able to see and learn about new innovations in the sector – and they will be able to do everything without leaving home. I am certain that National Fruit Show Live will be as good as it possibly could be in the circumstances.” Teresa is herself one of the top name speakers at the show, joining Lord Krebs, NFU Vice President Tom Bradshaw and others in an online debate hosted by the Rural Policy Group on food and farming policy and the role for British fruit farmers in feeding future generations.


“2020 has given the show the opportunity to reinvent itself and embrace the new reality with open arms,” explained Sarah Calcutt, National Fruit Show chairman and the driving force behind the team that has embraced the ‘new reality’. This will be only the third time the fruit show has not been held as a face-to-face event, having been cancelled twice during the Second World War, once following bombing in Marden and once because of catastrophic frost damage in all major growing areas. This year’s show will be hosted in partnership with the Fresh Produce Journal and The Worshipful Company of Fruiterers and will include a series of debates and presentations from policy makers, industry representatives, Nuffield Scholars and leading researchers in top and soft fruit plus viticulture. As usual it will also feature a thriving trade show, with ‘virtual’ stands highlighting all that’s best in the industry. The Fruit Show Live morning session, sponsored by MHA MacIntyre Hudson and the Rural Policy Group, will start at 10.15am and will feature Lord Krebs, Emeritus Professor of Zoology at the University of Oxford and an independent crossbencher in the House of Lords since 2007.

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SHOW LIVE! Lord Krebs was a member of the Energy and Environment Select Committee from 2015 to 19 and in 2019-20 he chaired a Select Committee inquiry on food, poverty, health and the environment, giving him a vital perspective on how the industry can contribute to the role of the fruit industry on feeding the nation. Other speakers during the morning session will be Society President Teresa Wickham, who also has a vast amount of experience in the industry and is co-founder of the Women’s Farming Union, and Tom Bradshaw, NFU Deputy President and an active farmer whose contract business spans 1,200 acres of combinable crops. The session will be chaired by Sarah Calcutt and will end with a short interview with Ali Capper, Executive Chair of British Apples and Pears, on how the trade association has reached more consumers than ever before. From 12 noon, online visitors will be able to click into technical forum presentations from agronomy firms and industry experts who will provide updates on a range of subjects including new biological control strategies and soil health. The presentations will last for 20 minutes each and conclude with live question and answer sessions. Speakers include Alex Radu from Agrovista on integrated pest management and Rob Saunders from Hutchinsons, who will present the interim results of the Helios orchards project. At 2pm The Worshipful Company of Fruiterers and the Fresh Produce Journal will present a panel discussion showcasing the latest research in top and soft fruit. It will be chaired by recently retired industry veteran and Fruiterers’ Past Master Laurence Olins and followed by a short question and answer session. Speakers will include Richard Harrison from Nuffield, Peter Thompson, managing director of Essex-based George Thompson Ltd, one of the UK’s leading fruit and vegetable farms, and John Giles, divisional director for agri food with Promar International. PhD student Tobias Lane, who is supported by the Worshipful Company of Fruiterers and the winner of the livery company’s 2019 Student Prize, will also be on the panel. After the presentation of The Livery Awards by The Worshipful Company of Fruiterers, the winners of the National Fruit Show categories will be announced.

This famous competition, a highly visible link back to the first shows in Marden in the 1930s, will remain a highly important element of the day and will be judged just a few days ahead of the show and include Britain’s tastiest apple and other popular categories, as well as classes for walnuts and cobnuts.


The National Fruit Show’s cider competition will also return in 2020. Again judged in advance, the winners will be announced live and the winning ciders will feature in a celebratory drinks post-show reception, hosted by bon viveur, radio presenter and competition judge Nigel Barden. Ciders have been nominated by the apple-loving public via the show’s social media channel.


Delivered by global event company CVent, the 2020 National Fruit Show will use the latest virtual event software to provide visitors with a fully interactive exhibition hall with virtual stands for all exhibitors. This service includes live meeting rooms, links to websites, company literature downloads and calendar appointment services housed in a company branded micro site, making the online show as near as possible to the physical show that the industry has come to love over the past 90 years or thereabouts. “The decision to take the show online was made after extensive consultation with sponsors, stakeholders and growers,” explained Sarah Calcutt. “We are confident that we have come up with a terrific format which works for everyone involved and that, while different, this will be another great National Fruit Show.” Sarah added that the technology involved meant that the show would still be able to deliver the depth of technical knowledge needed to enable it to be registered for essential NRoSO and BASIS points, another reason why the show retains its ‘must do’ credentials for so many young up and coming recruits despite the change in format. Visitors and exhibitors should book as they have in the past, by visiting www.nationalfruitshow.org.uk and talking to the team. Show Secretary Catherine Joules will be offering technical support for all company profiles and creating personalised business areas.






The Government naturally has a focus on economic recovery and growth, and house building has already been singled out as one way of achieving this, especially here in the South East. Earlier in September the Housing Secretary announced a new £12 billion investment boost to help deliver more affordable homes and homes for social rent. To achieve any increase in the volume of new housing of course means bringing more land forward for development, and it is likely that local authorities will need to review the provisions they have and the timing for its development. This, combined with many other factors – both economic and due to lack of succession - could lead more landowners and farmers to consider putting land forward for development, so what is the best way to go about this? An option agreement is an agreement between a landowner and a developer and provides a way for landowners to increase the value of their land without having to incur the costs of obtaining planning permission. This may be speculative or in response to a call for land and sites for development from a local authority. The agreement is a contract which allows the buyer to serve notice on the owner to sell them the land and/or property at the agreed price, but being an option, the developer has the choice about whether to go ahead with the purchase or not. For this they usually pay the landowner a fee to fix the option for a set period of time. Landowners who are approached by a developer should consider a number of issues before entering into an agreement, such as:

• What is the objective of their involvement, how will it affect their other land holdings/farm operations and how much money are they looking to realise? • How much involvement do they want to have with the project and will they need to appoint someone to act on their behalf? • Can they continue to use the land while it is subject to the planning process? • Will they benefit from the full value of the land from the agreement or could the developer seek to change the planning permission in the future? • What is the period of the option for which their land is going to be tied up? • Is there scope for overage in the future to catch more intensive development of the site? There are of course many other legal and financial considerations, so it is recommended that landowners take professional advice before entering into any agreement.


Consultant Solicitor, Gullands Solicitors T: 01622 689700 E: p.burbidge@gullands.com www.gullands.com

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AMAZING An “absolutely fantastic effort” by the team behind the National Fruit Show has ensured that the 2020 ‘virtual’ show will be a great experience for growers, sponsors, exhibitors and visitors, new president of the Marden Fruit Show Society Teresa Wickham has stressed. Appointed in the spring at the start of a three year term, Teresa will be overseeing a very different event to the one she expected to inherit when she became the fifth president of the society, but she is nonetheless upbeat about the event now planned for 22 October. “It is absolutely amazing that the team has produced an event for everyone that means they will get as much from it as they would in any other year, with the obvious exception of the social interaction that the Covid-19 restrictions have sadly put paid to,” she said. “They will have access to great speakers and presentations and be able to see and learn about new innovations in the sector and will be able to do everything without leaving home. I am certain that National Fruit Show Live will be as good as it possibly could be in the circumstances.


“I am particularly delighted that Lord Krebs will be with us to deliver the opening address and to open the new format, one-day show. This will be a great opportunity to celebrate the fruit industry and to explore issues around fruit’s place in the national diet, in healthy eating and in tackling obesity. “Yes, we will all miss the face-to-face networking that we enjoy, but on the positive side people will be able to duck in and duck out, choosing the bits of the show that particularly interest them, learning about what’s new and enjoying things like the cider competition while still sitting comfortably at home.


“The National Fruit Show is a great platform for English top fruit and it was important that the society did not give up and decide that moving the show to a new format was just too difficult. We

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need to keep fabulous fruit in front of people and this is one way of doing that. I am incredibly proud of what the team has achieved.” While excited at the prospect of the online show, Teresa stressed it would only be a temporary measure and that the ‘real’, two-day format and the chance to network was still key. “For now, though, this is the best way of coping with the restrictions. It’s forward thinking and relevant, it makes good use of modern technology and I am looking forward to it being a great success,” she said. Teresa will serve as president of the society for three years and said at the time of her appointment that she had “long admired the amazing work done by the show committee and the shop window for UK apples and pears it provides”. She added: “Robin and I were lucky to win some prizes for our fruit in the 1980s, so I am well aware of all the hard work from growers that goes into producing such amazing displays of Fruit.” Sarah Calcutt, Chair of the National Fruit Show said at the time that the society was “truly delighted that Teresa is joining the Fruit Show team”, adding: “She is widely regarded as an expert in the grocery and food supply chain sector as well as having one foot still firmly in her wellies. “From her work advising the corporate social responsibility board of Sainsbury’s and her position as a director of Safeway stores to her current position as the ‘go-to’ commentator on the grocery sector and six years as a non-executive director of Covent Garden Market Authority, she brings unique experience in food, farming and retail that will be invaluable in helping us steer the National Fruit Show through its next decade of growth.” Now planning for that show moving online, Sarah added: “When I spoke about Teresa helping us through our next decade, I couldn’t possibly have imagined the problems caused to all of us by the virus. She has been incredibly supportive as we have tackled the challenge of setting up a virtual show and we look forward to her continued support as things hopefully get back to normal for 2021.”





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WORKING TOGETHER REAPS THE REWARDS OF GROWTH 1.6 billion apples and pears is the estimated crop for 2020, the kind of figure that gets anyone’s attention. It’s a figure that marks phenomenal achievement in so many ways; a 79% increase in volume over the past decade for a start, it’s also a total that includes a markedly different blend of varieties to that which we saw 10 years ago. In the current climate, with issues around the availability of plant protection products, rapidly rising costs, awful challenges from the weather, labour availability issues and of course the current virus crisis, doesn’t it all just demonstrate the resilience and fortitude of fruit farmers? The top and soft fruit sectors benefit from a general will to cooperate, to work together for the common good and the benefit of the industry as a whole. Just look at the rise in popularity of berries – not just strawberries but the rise of the darker fruits too. It’s not been a ‘fad’ but the result of a carefully coordinated PR campaign over the past decade designed to place the good news about British berries in every magazine, newspaper and information outlet that reaches consumers. It has delivered phenomenal growth for the sector and a model that was based on the original EAP mission. The British Apples and Pears campaign this year is larger than ever, with more press activity, more social media impact, strategic investment in cost analysis and labour issue reports and more activity exchanging information with retailers. It’s a real success story of collaborative working and a great thing to be a part of; by the time this article is

published the season launch will be well underway with an episode of Countryfile featuring British apples and pears (as well as cider) starting a full on week of media coverage. I recently caught up with one of the Smartfresh team, who reported some really great quality fruit being put away. It has good storage potential and has been picked at the optimal date too. It bodes well for a smaller than expected crop being one that will still deliver the extended season we need, and one can only hope that this is recognised in the returns back to the grower. One of the annual challenges the Smartfresh team faces is an expectation that the treatment can deliver miracles. There is always a moment at which fruit must just go straight for sale and that is a difficult conversation to have with a grower. We appear to be looking for miracles in all directions now. For anyone who saw the broadcast of George Eustice’s response to the EFRA committee (it won’t be good for your blood pressure if you watch it), be assured that the NFU is on the case and will make sure that all the correct data will be presented. We certainly need to make it absolutely clear that there will be a diminishing benefit of those EU-resident workers with settled and pre-settled status. While they are crucial in the short term, they’re not a long term solution. Of course we need to be recruiting Brits and there is clearly a terrifying rise in the numbers of unemployed people, but their status within the benefits system will continue to preclude them unless there are major changes in their ability to take fixed-term work.


Food strategy remains at the front of agricultural policy and the National Fruit Show will this year be opened by Lord Krebs, whose work with the Food Foundation has been feeding directly into Henry Dimbleby’s team. ‘Self-sufficiency’, ‘sustainable production’ and ‘feeding the nation’ run through the pillars that have been published in phase 1 and we can only hope that the importance of British Farming is recognised throughout the resulting legislation. Another piece of legislation that we are being threatened with is that which surrounds the use of creosote. This is a piece of work that has been ongoing for a number of years; it is reaching a critical point and we need you to read the handbook article, join us at the show to hear what Kirsten has to say and ensure that you are aware of the part you have to play in ensuring that creosote is a protected asset for the industry. We hope you are able to join all the sessions at the fruit show this year. The conference elements will be available to watch again and will be available after the show, enabling you to visit all the trade stands and then catch up on the latest news. If you have questions for the panellists you can send them in advance to ensure you get your answers.

SARAH CALCUTT Chair, National Fruit Show

How to register for and attend the show: 1. Before the day of the show please visit www.nationalfruitshow.org.uk to register your details, you will receive an email to confirm you have registered 2. Prior to the show, you will be sent a link to the show by email. This link can be used to access the show. 3. On the day visitors will be asked for their name and email address and will be sent a verification code via email. Just tap in that code and you will be able to enter the National Fruit Show Live! TO ADVERTISE CALL 01303 233883




Industry press briefing.


Opening of the show by Lord Krebs. Lord Krebs, Founding Chairman of the Food Standards Agency will open the 87th National Fruit Show and its first ever virtual, ‘live’ show.



British produce future. Lord Krebs participates in a panel discussion hosted by the Rural Policy Group on food and farming policy and the role for British fruit farmers in feeding future generations. Chaired by Sarah Calcutt, Chair of the Marden Fruit Society, the panel will also include Teresa Wickham, Current President of the Marden Fruit Society, Tom Bradshaw, Vice Chairman of the NFU and Gary Marshall, Chair of the New Covent Garden Market Tenants’ Association. Mark Lumsdon-Taylor of session sponsors MacIntyre Hudson will also take part and will talk about the finances of the sector. Mark is seen as a leader in the finance, human resources, education and corporate landscapes. The session will end with a short interview with Ali Capper, Executive Chair of British Apples and Pears on how the trade association has reached more consumers than ever before on behalf of the sector. Visitors will also learn how employing a Frenchman to be the season launch ambassador paid off. Questions can be submitted in advance or via the chat board on the day.

12PM - 2PM

The National Fruit Show Live’s Technical Experts Forum. Over lunchtime join a host of industry professionals providing updates on a range of subjects including new biological control strategies, soil health and plant protection product updates. The bite-sized sessions will last for 20 minutes each and conclude with a live Q&A. Speakers include: • Alex Radu from Agrovista on Integrated Pest Management

PROGRAMME Hosts: Sarah Calcutt, Chair of the Marden Fruit Show Society, and Teresa Wickham, President of the Marden Fruit Show Society • Rob Saunders from Hutchinsons, who will present interim results from the Helios orchards project • Nick Strelczek from Hutchinsons on Soil analytics and nutritional management • Mike Stoker, from Engage Agro on soil fertility and plant health • Kirsten Tønneson, who will speak on behalf of the Wood Protection Association about the work being undertaken to retain creosote as a product in agriculture and horticulture.

One of the student speakers supported by the Livery is Tobias Lane. Following his BSc in Horticulture at the University of Reading, Tobias Lane is currently a PhD student researching the impacts of climate change on apple production using the National Fruit Collection Trust’s “Apples in a Warmer World” long-term research facility at Brogdale, Kent. His studies are supported by several charities, including the Worshipful Company of Fruiterers, which also awarded him its 2019 Student Prize.

2PM – 4.30PM


‘Insight’ session. The Worshipful Company of Fruiterers and the Fresh Produce Journal present a panel discussion showcasing the latest research in top and soft fruit. The afternoon session, in conjunction with the Fresh Produce Journal and introduced by its Managing Director Chris White, will throw a spotlight on the Worshipful Company of Fruiterers Livery Company. A number of specially selected candidates whose work has been supported by the Livery will be speaking about their latest research. It will be chaired by recently retired industry veteran Laurence Olins, who served as managing director and chairman of the Poupart Group of Companies for 20 years. He was also Master of the Worshipful Company of Fruiterers in 2000. There will be a short Q&A at the end of each session. Speakers will include Richard Harrison (Nuffield), a director of NIAB Cambridge Crop Research, Peter Thompson, managing director of George Thompson Ltd, one of the UK’s leading fruit and vegetable farms, and John Giles, divisional director for agri food with Promar International. John is a regular contributor to the leading agricultural and food trade press, both in the UK and the US.

The Livery Awards – The Worshipful Company of Fruiterers will present its prestigious awards for 2020.

5 TO 6PM

National Fruit Show prize winners announcements followed by a virtual cider bar with Nigel Barden. The best of the best in British top and soft fruit will be revealed by Sarah Calcutt and Teresa Wickham, following which visitors will be invited to take part in a British cider tasting and chat with foodie broadcaster Nigel Barden. Known to millions of Radio 2 and Scala radio listeners as their favourite cook, Nigel will host a session to close the National Fruit Show in style. All proceeds from the sale of the cider will be going towards the National Fruit Show’s long running education programme. In a former life Nigel was a director of Yorkshire Fine Wines, based at Nun Monkton near York. He grew up on a farm in Lancashire, studied land agency at the Royal Agricultural College and worked in Yorkshire as a land agent. He is also a BBC rugby commentator and trained and worked as an actor.


Burg Machinefabriek, which opened a new 5,000 m² building in Kruiningen in 2012, has now completed another 4,000 m² expansion, adding two halls on to the existing building. “We have been taking care of increasing numbers of larger projects in recent years and you need a lot of space for that,” said export sales manager Joan van Burg. “The more space you have, the more efficiently you can work. The new building is already proving its worth.” Joan added: “We have been innovating in the fruit industry since 1954, the first 30 years in the orchard and the last 35 years providing packing station solutions



that are in use all over the world. “We provide complete handling in the warehouse, from filling and emptying crates to packaging and palletising. While automation used to be an added extra, these days processes are increasingly fully automatic and take place at high speeds.” With sustainability of paramount importance, the new building features 800 solar panels, LED lighting and energy-saving radiant heating. Burg Machinefabriek was one of the pioneers of automation. Its mission is to offer the best possible solutions in automation and optimisation for sorting, packaging and logistics.

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Leading European nurseries Botden & van Willegen and Worcestershire-based Frank P Matthews can now supply the earliestmaturing Gala clone. Gala Wildfire® RKD, a sport of Gala that was found in Washington State in the USA with apples that coloured and ripened three weeks earlier than the main orchard, has a confirmed maturity 18 to 22 days earlier than all other Gala clones.

> Gala

Wildfire Escande

Escande Nursery in France has the head licence for the variety in Europe and introduced the clone in France some years ago. Here the early colouring and very early picking date was confirmed to be 18-22 days ahead of other Gala clones. Frank P Matthews act as the UK agents for Botden & van Willegen, which has the right to market and sell trees of Gala Wildfire® RKD in the UK.

Leading machinery innovations for the last 45 years.

Steph Dunn James, from Frank P Matthews, said: “Gala Wildfire™ is such an exciting introduction. Other areas that we are seeing increased demand for are innovative rootstocks M116 and G11, cherries to extend the picking season, unusual fruit like peaches and nectarines and various different nut varieties in particular for agroforestry projects, one of the fastest growing sectors in the industry.”



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BUSY YEAR FOR OCL Orchard Cooling Limited (OCL) has experienced a busy year after setting up a range of procedures to ensure the safety of company staff and other tradesmen during the coronavirus pandemic. With 2019 having been the Langley, Maidstone-based company’s busiest year to date, featuring a number of prestigious projects across the South East, 2020 started equally well. Paul Kennett, Refrigeration Systems, OCL, explained that despite the careful planning needed to deal with Covid-19 and ensure the right social distancing, the projects in the pipeline came to fruition without delay. “OCL offers a diverse range of services as well as providing new ‘ecologicool’ refrigeration systems design, servicing and maintenance,” Paul added. “The team can arrange new power supplies and distribution networks with UKPN and complete specialist electrical installations of refrigeration equipment, all tested and certified to NICEIC and ECA standards.” In 2020 OCL has installed secondary glycol refrigeration systems for two new blocks of controlled atmosphere (CA) stores and new chill dispatch and chill storage areas, and has retrofitted a block of older CA stores with a new glycol secondary system. In Essex a new project involved OCL designing a secondary glycol system for rapid chilling soft fruit in a purpose built facility that included a packhouse and farm shop with a butchery and chilled storage. The system incorporated a heat reclaim cylinder to provide domestic hot water for handwashing and student accommodation showers. Several other projects have been undertaken for cooling plants and other produce as well as apples and pears. Paul explained: “We are able to offer our design for all types of application and offer solutions for many situations. A new Winery heating/cooling installation was a repeat order from a new customer last year, and has helped to broaden our client base. “Over the winter our electricians will be wiring a large new strawberry growing glass house with retractable roofs, ventilation, irrigation and humidity control. “The focus of our system design is to minimise energy usage without compromise, to provide an effective solution that will serve its purpose and fulfil our clients’ requirements. “For most new-build projects, using a secondary cooling system will reduce the leakage risk of refrigerant gas, as the liquid chillers used have limited gas charge in the primary circuit(s) compared to the older DX pack systems with a large gas charge. This meets the requirements of F-Gas regulations and reduces the risk of HFC leakage.”


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The National Fruit Show (this year The National Fruit Show Live) is an important event for the top fruit industry and a chance to pause after a busy harvest and look ahead to another growing year. With British growers of all sizes expected to hand-pick 1.6 billion apples and pears this year, one of the country’s leading growers highlights the benefits of supporting home-grown fruit. “Don’t forget they take a year to grow and 10 seconds to ruin.” These are the wise words of my father, Clive Goatham, which drive the skill and care we take in our approach to growing, harvesting, packing and distributing 350 million apples and 55 million pears each year to supermarkets across the UK. AC Goatham & Son now grows one in three of the British apples and pears sold in the UK, and it is quality combined with volume and our choice of modern varieties that are the key factors that enable us to compete with overseas growers. In my opinion, it is quite simply insane in the times we live in to import fruit from halfway around the world when we can grow it here, to a higher quality standard and better tasting, with

a lower carbon footprint and racking up fewer food miles. If the Covid-19 pandemic has taught us anything, it is that our short, robust and sustainable British supply chains should be protected to ensure we can continue to grow and invest back into our business. I’ve got two boys eager to follow me into the business and we remain a strong family business which has of course grown significantly over the past 73 years to include our wider team. Together as a team we are unique in being the only British grower to own and control every step in our business’ supply chain. Looking ahead to the future of the industry, we still need access to a seasonal workforce and we will have to change our business model if this is to include more British workers in the future. We currently employ all of our seasonal workers through our payroll and they are housed in on-farm accommodation that is maintained to a very high, safe standard. This model has been vital to enable our teams to live and work together safely as a cohort this harvest. While we have introduced new technology and

mechanisation into our harvest this year, with innovations such as self-propelled platforms, we are still a few years away from full automation. As a business we will not do anything to risk the quality of the fruit we grow. Over recent years we have achieved significant automation in our cold storage, packing and distribution operations and we are scaled for the higher volume which our new orchard planting is bringing. We have in fact planted nearly two million new fruit trees since 2013. To support this increase, our pre-grader can grade 120,000 apples per hour. We are supplying British apples for at least 11 months of the year and growing exciting new British varieties, achieving all this because we have invested everything back into the business, helping to displace the UK’s reliance on imported fruit from elsewhere. Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic we have continued to supply supermarkets and made sure their shelves remain fully stocked. With the support of our robust British supply chain we will continue to do so. Ross Goatham, Managing Director, AC Goatham & Son

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The technical experts’ forum scheduled for 12 noon to 2pm at National M Fruit Show Live will include a presentation on the issues around the use Y of creosote, something that has been around for more than 150 years. On behalf of the Wood Protection Association, Kirsten Tønneson will CM speak about the work being undertaken to retain the product for use in MY agriculture and horticulture. CY Here’s an outline… CMY 100% coal tar creosote has been used for more than 150 years to impart reliable service life to wood in many areas, particularly railway sleepers, utility poles, K fencing and for posts and support structures in fruit growing. Improved safety rules on the sale and use of creosote and creosote-treated timber were introduced in June 2003 following an EU Directive and its sale to the public was stopped that year, being replaced in the DIY market by a number of ‘creosote substitutes’ that smelled like creosote but were not as effective. Since 2012 all wood preservatives have been subject to the EU Biocidal Products Regulation (BPR) that was due to replace all national regulations across Europe in time. Brexit means that a British version is expected to replace the BPR in the UK from January 2021. Creosote has a good safety record when used in industrial treatment plants and by professionals and for treated wood, but the BPR has allowed some EU members states to impose stricter rules than others and to gradually introduce more and more requirements on suppliers to evaluate the effect of creosote on safety of treated wood in service. This is a threat to the future of wood treated with creosote in its traditional markets and deadlines are approaching. Creosote is authorised under the BPR for treating a range of products including agricultural tree stakes and supports (fruit, vineyard and hops) when a long service life is required. The current authorisations expire in March 2021 and although the UK’s Health and Safety Executive (HSE) was handling the applications for renewal and assessing the supporting data, Brexit has seen control for the EU pass to Poland and Sweden. HSE has yet to announce how UK regulations and their effect on creosote authorisation will be implemented from January 2021. Part of the review process involved developing data on the potential for creosote residues finding their way into soft fruit during the growing season. English Apples and Pears has helped with that process and the results are expected shortly. In overall terms the slight risk of contact of growing fruit with support elements is small and any fruit involved is likely to be rejected anyway because of bruising. While the wood preservation industry is researching alternatives that may offer similar protection and the ability to withstand weather extremes, the industry needs time to assess and confirm performance. Support for an extension to the March 2021 expiry date is vital and fruit growers lobbying the HSE could help immensely. The industry is looking for a five-year extension to provide a window in which to complete the assessment and proving process.





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A business relationship built on mutual respect and shared values has seen Provenance Potatoes develop into a thriving marketing group for growers in East Kent. It was a desire to highlight the origins – the provenance – of the potatoes grown around the area that inspired Tracy Bush, one half of the company, to come up with the name, one that is now increasingly well known in farm shops, wholesale markets and catering outlets in the South East. While Tesco is still a prominent end customer for many of the 10,000-plus tonnes sold through Provenance Potatoes each year, others are sold closer to home, with Tracy using her marketing expertise and industry background to find a home for every last spud dug up in the fields of East Kent. The company’s boast is that they know the origin of every potato they sell. Each of the 1 or 1.2 tonne bins used for storing harvested potatoes is carefully labelled, highlighting not just the name of the grower but the field the crop came from. The seed will have been chosen in collaboration with Graeme Skinner, the other half of the

Provenance Potatoes team. While Tracy takes care of the marketing and finds a home for the crop, Graeme provides the year-round technical and agronomy advice that makes sure there is a good crop to sell. That in itself makes a great team, but the combination of the Provenance team and the growers that sell through the business takes that teamwork a step further, creating a formidable marketing organisation for Kent potatoes. It’s something the growers certainly appreciate. Philip Smith, who produces around 3,000 tonnes of potatoes a year, about half of those at Monkton Court Farm, was keen to stress the value that he felt Provenance Potatoes brought to the deal. “We are incredibly lucky to have Tracy and Graeme working so hard for a comparatively small group of farmers,” he said. “They make a huge difference to us, both in the advice they provide and then in finding a home for the crop.” It seems a point of pride to Tracy to find a buyer for every last potato, however small or mis-shapen. One new contract has seen Provenance Potatoes

> Tracy Bush with the smaller bags of potatoes


used by the county’s school dinner service, and her flexibility helped the business ride the storm when the Covid-19 lockdown closed food service outlets – including chip shops – virtually overnight. As restaurants closed, so home deliveries expanded, and as the exclusive supplier of potatoes to high end frozen meal supplier Cook, based in Sittingbourne, Provenance Potatoes were in demand to help that company keep up with an increasingly healthy order book. The latest marketing initiative is to make Provenance Potatoes available in 2Kg plastic bags, to broaden their appeal through independent retailers, farm shops and veg delivery services. Until now they have only been available in larger paper sacks, but with potential customers increasingly asking for Provenance Potatoes in a handier size, the company has now invested in the equipment necessary to meet that demand. Both Graeme and Tracy gained much of their experience working for St Nicholas Court Farms, previously the main buyer and seller for potatoes grown in East Kent, including those produced by the

FEATURED COMPANY: PROVENANCE POTATOES farmers who now supply Provenance Potatoes. When St Nicholas Court Farms’ pack house was sold to another packer and began to focus uniquely on supplying one large supermarket, both the local team and the growers became uneasy about the risks involved in having ‘all their eggs in one basket’. Tracy, then general manager of the company, was particularly dismayed at the loss of any connection between the grower and the end user. “My belief in local provenance was as strong then as it is now, and that was in danger of disappearing,” she recalled. Graeme, too, felt that the business was going in a different direction, and not one that he was enjoying being part of. The growers, meanwhile, were equally uneasy, so they asked Tracy to set up on her own in 2012. She was joined soon afterwards by Graeme. “We felt at the time that it was risky growing for one packhouse supplying one supermarket,” said Philip. “Provenance does things differently and supplies a much broader market.” It may have been foresight, or just good fortune, but the creation of Provenance Potatoes was followed by The Kent Potato Company winding down its potato business, but by now the new company had found its feet and it has continued to grow since then. It sold 6,000 tonnes in 2012 and had its best year to date in 2017, when it hit 11,500 tonnes. Tracy based the new company at Grange Farm, Deal, where the Solley family agreed she could use their washing plant and packhouse and where Provenance Potatoes is still based. In 2012 she still sold 80% of the produce to supermarket packers and the rest more locally, to wholesalers and other outlets. That proportion has steadily shifted as Tracy has found new buyers for the six or seven growers who supply Provenance Potatoes. “Tesco is still a big customer and we also indirectly supply the likes of Asda, Sainsbury’s, Waitrose, Aldi and Lidl, but that only accounts for 40% of our potatoes,” she said. “The other 60% is sold locally.” While Philip is quick to highlight the value added by Tracy and Graeme, the feeling is clearly mutual. “It’s amazing to work with such a committed and dedicated group of growers,” said Tracy. “They show a lot of trust and a great deal of passion.” As well as Philip at Monkton Court, the company sells potatoes grown at Chislet Court Farm and Hatfeild Farm and by HW Twyman and EH Holdstock. While those five make up the core of the group, Provenance Potatoes also sells potatoes grown by DJ Snell, CJ Bean and CR Quested. For Philip, the future of Provenance Potatoes was an important issue when a fire destroyed the potato store at Monkton Court a month before harvest in 2016. >>

> Graeme Skinner in the cold store


> Desiree potatoes TO ADVERTISE CALL 01303 233883



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FEATURED COMPANY: PROVENANCE POTATOES > Desiree potatoes being sorted in the intake grader at the farm

<< “I had no store, no boxes and a crop in the ground,” he recalled. “It was not a great situation to be in. Philip managed to get hold of the storage boxes he needed and find some space in a store to rent while making plans for a new, modern storage facility to replace the original building. Uppermost in his mind, though, was the future of the marketing group, which by then had only been established a few years. One of his calls was to Tracy, just to check that if he invested in new stores there would continue to be a buyer for his produce. She was able to reassure him, and three years later he’s glad he made the right decision. “It was a risk, but I’m delighted with the way it turned out,” he said. The new stores, four in all, were built by Crop Systems, which Philip said did an excellent job in having the facility up and running ready for the 2017 harvest. The three larger stores together hold 3,200 tonnes of potatoes in 1.2 tonne boxes, while the fourth store is used for seed earlier in the year but can also hold another 300 tonnes and is sometimes rented out to neighbouring farms on a temporary basis. “Crop Systems did an impressive job getting the store ready on time and it’s a well-designed and

> Potatoes stored in the cold store

built facility,” Philip said. “It wasn’t an easy task, but they got it done on time and I now have a modern, accessible store.” The controlled atmosphere stores allow the potatoes to be brought down to a temperature of 3°C within ten days and then kept chilled for up to a year if necessary. The potatoes are kept in 98% humidity, while an automatic system also constantly monitors the CO2 levels and can flush the store with oxygen from outside the building if that gets too high. The stores use a secondary refrigeration system which uses glycol but can suck in outside air if the temperature falls far enough. “And it can all be monitored and controlled by an app on my phone,” Philip added. Philip is the third generation of the family to run the farm at Monkton. His grandfather Herbert established a 1,000-acre mixed farm on the land at the end of the 19th century and was followed by his son Michael, who added turkeys to the mix. Philip took over in 1976 at about the time the farm moved out of livestock. He continued with arable and added potatoes, a business plan that continues to this day, and now grows 300ha of arable crops >>


> Farmer Philip Smith

> Desiree potatoes are harvested from the field using a Grimme GT170 harvester TO ADVERTISE CALL 01303 233883



FEATURED COMPANY: PROVENANCE POTATOES > A cover crop of Phacelia, Buckwheat and sunflowers

<< and 60ha of potatoes, which are split between the Monkton farm and other land nearby. St Nicholas Court Farms carry out the work on the arable area, while contractor Jeremy McCabe supports the potato side of the business and has been instrumental with Graeme in improving yield and quality. The three- to four-week harvest period normally begins in early September, with a Grimme GT harvester doing the digging. “Our aim is always to get them in quickly so that we can get them dry and cooled down to storage temperature,” he said. Because Philip’s store is so efficient, Tracy tends

to hold those potatoes back while finding new and varied markets for those from neighbouring farms with a shorter shelf life. Those markets include the Canary Islands, which buys the company’s undersized King Edwards to use in Tapas dishes. “Our aim is to find new markets, add value, reduce waste and work closely with our growers to get maximum value for our crop,” she explained. Graeme, meanwhile, is on hand throughout the year, not just advising on seed choice but on inputs, irrigation and the other factors that help create a good crop. The former technical manager at St Nicholas

Court Farms is also keen to stress the environmental changes that the group’s farmers are making with his support. Growers on lighter land no longer plough ahead of potatoes, but instead use tines to avoid turning over the soil and losing carbon as well as moisture. “Graeme’s advice is vital,” said Philip. “From the choice of seed, preparing the ground and looking after the growing crop, right through to harvesting and storage, the growers in the group really benefit from his support. The combination of Provenance Potatoes’ expertise and the skills of the farmers they work with really has created something special.”


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Editorial deadlines are such that I write this some time ahead of when you get to read it, but as I write this summer seems to have ended abruptly, with much colder weather and rain appearing. While needed by many, as I write this the weather has stopped progress by the drill, although thankfully drilling is really all that remains to do as the maize harvest was tidied up just before the weather broke. Given the grass growing season, it’s nice to see the maize clamps so full; we purchased 40 acres of standing maize from a neighbour and that has certainly helped. We always like to feel we have a forage buffer over and above what we need for one year; over the past two seasons that has been eroded, so it’s nice to look at the clamps and feel that the buffer is now restored for maize at least. Grass stocks will be tight and we will have to monitor this closely over the winter to ensure we get through. We have sown an increased area of grass for next year and fully expect an early start to grass silaging come next spring (let’s hope the weather obliges). For now and most of this winter the cow diet has changed to reflect the silage stock levels, with increased levels of maize silage going in; so far at least the cows are certainly enjoying the slight change in diet. Covid-19 still seems to dominate, with no end in sight. The children all find the new normal is “just the way it is” and have accepted the new regimes without exception. Each and every organisation has had to adapt its way of functioning. Whether or not it’s for the good remains to be seen.

TO ADVERTISE CALL 01303 233883

The funky facemasks are something to behold and quite the new trend. There is even a diamond encrusted face mask apparently, yours for the bargain price of £1.5m. The fashion industry is nothing if not inventive! School issue or handmade will be perfect. More soberingly, though, it looks like it will take a few generations to repay the enormous debt the country has found itself in. Couple that with the ever-complicated situation with Brexit and we could be in for some sobering circumstances in the months and years ahead. As South East Farmer goes to press, several county agricultural shows have already been cancelled for 2021. Unfortunately, this will have an impact throughout the farming industry; a great social opportunity for many and a shop window for others? The price of hay and straw seems to have escalated out of control in recent months. I find it hard to believe that farmers in the West Country are paying £115-120 for straw delivered. How is this sustainable? The price of good quality hay has continued to rise. In the South East we have been bringing straw down from the Cotswolds. Hay is in short supply at the moment. Hopefully, farmers will open the shed doors in the next few months. A last-ditch attempt to get dairy workers included on the government’s Shortage Occupation List has been rejected this month following a four-month consultation. Farm workers will not be added to the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) list, but occupations including butchers, bricklayers and welders will.

The MAC launched a call in May for evidence into the skills shortage and this was delivered to the Home Secretary. In the report it stated that they didn’t recommend adding farmers to the shortlist. 80% of farmers are self employed so the benefits of being added to the shortlist were limited. Farms relying on foreign labour could be left with a severe labour shortage next year when the new points-based immigration system is put into place. The RABDF (Royal Association of British Dairy Farmers) said this would give priority to those with “the highest skills and greatest talents”, with dairy workers not falling into these categories. There are some real concerns that post 2021 some of our largest, most technically advanced dairy farms could be lost due to their reliance on foreign labour. Should this happen the repercussions would be felt throughout the industry, with all associated businesses such as feed companies and vet practices affected, let alone the milk supply in this country. A survey by the RABDF in 2016 found that over half the respondents employed staff from outside the UK. This represents a 24% increase over the past five years.





Reporting on the sheep market at Ashford T: 01233 502222 www.hobbsparker.co.uk


An exceptionally busy period at Ashford Market has seen record throughput during August and September. The lack of rain and drought conditions in the South East, on a par with that suffered in 1976, has forced producers of both sheep and cattle to market stock earlier than usual in the season. Unlike the situation in 1976 there has been an advance of keep in other parts of the country and with a strong trade for all finished stock, buyers’ confidence has been boosted for stores and favourable high prices have resulted. Over 40,000 store lambs were sold by 20 September, up 25% on the year and with the numbers and quality on offer attracting several fresh faces, particularly from the far south west and the Welsh borders, which came to Ashford to source lambs. Trade has been brisk throughout, with overall averages up by some £12 per head on the year, and at the time of going to print crossbred stores are averaging in excess of £70 and Romney wethers have made up to £75. The store trade reflects the keep situation, the current finished trade and the margin achieved by finishers in recent years, all of which are positive and are providing a long awaited boost for store lamb sellers. The finished lamb numbers are also well up at plus 22% for this season’s crop with over 30,000 sold to date and trade has been at unprecedented levels for this time of year with averages in excess of 200p/kg and best fleshed heavyweights making in excess of £100. These high throughput figures to date will obviously have an impact on future sales, and the relatively tighter supplies late in the season and early next year will help to support favourable returns. The recent breeding ram sale held on Monday 28 September proved very successful and despite some reservations proved popular with both sellers and buyers. With two rings operating for the MV Accredited and Non MV Accredited, a total of 260 were traded at very acceptable prices. This is certainly a sale we will be looking to repeat, expand and improve for the future. The recent Romney day sale has been the only real hiccough in the autumn seasonal sales and while overall averages were up by some £10 per head, with customers in attendance and fair prices for the best, the second quality sorts in particular were discounted and sold at prices below expectation. The best ewe lambs generally made £70 to £80 while the bottoms sold at prices reflecting store value. Best ewe tegs made £110


FIGURES to £130 and lesser sorts looked good value in the £85 to £100. The aged ewes sold relatively well, with the best three and four lambers making £80 to £90. The recent and seasonal highlights at sales have included 47kg finished lambs to £122.50 (261p) from S P Howland, Canterbury; Beltex cross store lambs to £90 from S Weeks & Son, Headcorn; Suffolk x Mule ewe lambs to £124 from D Howard Farms, Brede; Romney ewe lambs to £94 from H Metcalfe, Wittersham; North Country Mule ewe tegs to £168 from Brodie Farms, Betchworth; Suffolk x Mule ewe tegs to £144 from Dan Mackleden Ltd, Maidstone; Romney ewe tegs to £130 from N A Balcomb & Son, Lydd; Romney ram tegs to £1,000 from H V Link Partnership, Newchurch; Texel ram tegs to £800 from Vexour Farms, Chiddingstone; Suffolk ram tegs to £660 from C F Fuggle, Wadhurst and Charollais ram tegs to £520 from B J Baker, Bexhill.



John Rossiter adds: Hobbs Parker Auctioneers have been busy between the sale of livestock planning and holding two substantial farm dispersal sales, the first on behalf of Mr C Peach at Pett Valley Farms, Stowting, which was a great success with a total clearance of all items offered. These testing times do make the management of a sale of this magnitude more difficult, but it was pleasing to see that all attendees showed respect for the system and were pleased to be able to attend a live auction once again. The second of the sales will take place on 31 October at John Paine Farms on Romney Marsh and will consist of nearly 700 lots of genuine farm equipment. This sale will also be conducted under the new socially distanced guidelines for farm dispersal sales . For further information or a catalogue for upcoming sales: www.hobbsparker.co.uk


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To thank UK farmers for their hard work, Lodi UK are pleased to be giving away free Lodi beanies during autumn. Simply visit www.lodi-uk.com/beanie and order yours free to your door, including delivery.



Lodi UK have launched a brand new media centre online at www.lodi-uk.com/media The new platform will host a range of product guides and useful information to aid farmers in controlling pests. A recent video entitled On-Farm Rodent Control with Lodi Gems is available. Watch the video online to find out how to effectively manage rats on your farm, including: • How to investigate: a survey (looking for smear marks, runs, droppings, fur deposits, urine areas), UV tracking, damage (chewing/gnawing)

• Key locations to bait in protecting farms • The difference in formulations – when and why • Risk management – keeping workers and the farm safe. Animal health and welfare (pigs are highly susceptible to bromadiolone so there may be a need to use another active e.g. difenacoum instead) • Resistance management – using a single feed alongside others • Monitoring • Other prevention methods such as control sprays and proofing materials, and CRRU guidance.


While staring down the barrel of another lockdown and an abrupt end to my social life, things seem to be hotting up in the farm vet’s diary. From helping out with ram and bull breeding soundness exams to the odd C-section in some of our autumn calving herds, one thing is clear: there is no job quite like farm vetting for variety, especially in the lovely picturesque South Downs. I have only recently joined the practice alongside two other new additions in the form of Izzy and Sara. We are really enjoying our time so far in the practice and have the added exuberance and enthusiasm of youth to keep Nick and the older vets on their toes. Lucky them! Such is the time of year, we have recently seen a few creatures of the ovine variety with the characteristic signs of Haemonchus contortus infestation. Recumbent, weak, sick sheep with pale mucous membranes and a large swelling under the jaw.


Cliffe Veterinary Group T: 01273 473232 E: will@cliffevets.co.uk www.cliffefarm.co.uk

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VET DIARY It is vitally important to understand that scour is not typically a sign of acute Haemonchus infestation, so don’t make assumptions based on a lack of scouring. These affected individuals returned a Faecal Egg Count (FEC) of around 24,000 epg (at a group egg count above 600 epg we would consider recommending worming). This exceptionally high egg count is not unusual when haemonchosis is present. The rest of the flock also tested high and were showing some clinical signs. A worming protocol was discussed and took into account time of year, age, previous wormers and resistance patterns, routine FECs and pasture management. If you have any problems with worms this year and this is something you would like to discuss (for example which wormer to use, applying best practice, how do you know when to drench etc) make sure you speak to your vet or suitably qualified person. This is beneficial as it can decrease the amount of money and time spent on unnecessary worming and decrease resistance build-up on your pasture. This is vital to maintaining your flock’s long term health and productivity. There are no new

> Haemonchus contortus infestation in a Suffolk lamb wormers on the horizon so we must manage and protect those that we already have by reducing our reliance on routine dosing. It can be done. Another way to get more information on worms and the best practice regarding treatment and prevention can be found on the Sustainable Control of Parasites in Sheep (SCOPS) website. This website is packed with information on drenching, resistance, worms of importance, and links to the all-important National Animal Disease Information Service (NADIS) Nematodirus forecast, and will keep you updated on the most recent facts and research on internal parasites.






Over recent times many readers, whether country dwellers or farmers, may have been aware of unwanted attempts to have a nearby footpath either formalised, reopened, or possibly upgraded to a bridle path (BP). This latter has recently created some feeling around here, and although we have long since taken the required preventative steps we have someone locally who has been trying to create a new BP, not at their cost of course, but funded by the ratepayers. The opportunity to do this occurs where the owners of land with footpaths have not obtained, or updated, the required Order under Section 31 of the Highways Act to register paths on their land. In our case we last applied for the said Order in 2012, so, with the order’s life of ten years, we are still protected, but this individual seems to have a lot of time on their hands and has been trying to identify an ‘unprotected’ footpath for a BP. This came to light when the council advised nearby residents that an application had been made to upgrade an ancient farm track in our hamlet, an old farm byway to which nobody has sole rights. Only farmers or tenants with land leading off it have a historic right to use it. Nowadays there are only two who qualify with a need for access. I am one, but this doesn’t give me the right to register it along with our other paths, because we are not its sole owners. Now, because of this loophole, this person is asking the council to register it as a BP although, as all surrounding footpaths are registered under Section 31, it’s only some 450 yards long and so would go nowhere! Needless to say nearby residents are up in arms at the prospect of the old, quiet, farm track becoming a formal bridle path. Additionally the lane, because of its infrequent use over the years, has become almost a small nature reserve on its own, which we all feel is worth protecting. If you foresee a similar situation developing adjacent to your home, I am told the first thing you should do is check with your council and see if nearby paths have in fact been registered by their owners. In the case of West Sussex County Council you look up Statutory Orders, under Sec. 31 of the Highways Act. Follow instructions or call your council for advice. I hope this is useful. The main thing, however, if you should own the land, is to register paths on that land, so walkers are unable to take shortcuts across it. This is because by unauthorised use these new routes can enable a member of the public to apply for such deviations to become formalised paths. It’s

> Through our fast-growing tree tops, the quiet Clyde stretches acro ss to Dunoon with, lying on its side in the wate r, the Captayannis, sunk in a storm in 1974 famous ‘sugar boat’, the Greek MV and now a decaying home to fish and seabirds

a bore, it costs an unrealistic amount of money to register but it does give owners some control. Annoyingly, if landowners don’t do this, people can apply to get them adopted, when as I said earlier, the cost of such an upgrade, if successful, falls on local ratepayers. You can only register them under these Statutory Orders if they cross your land, but then you do need to ensure they are renewed every ten years. I hope this may help. We finally managed to find time to venture up to Argyll in late September. Having tried earlier in the year but been thwarted by coronavirus, we had not managed to visit the forest for two years. Here the advantage over keeping livestock, which needs tending and feeding daily, becomes very obvious! Despite our long absence we found the sitka spruce plantations had taken full advantage of the wonderful growing conditions - damp, relatively mild, south westerly winds coming up off the Clyde - and many of the trees had grown significantly in the period, around 3ft plus a year. It is really starting to look like a forest now as one looks up at the hillsides from the main road along the banks of the Clyde. We also had our first close look at a new bit of land, purchased last winter, which closely adjoins the main forest. This is around 300 acres of quite neglected ex-grazing land, used for sheep over recent years, which with under grazing had become very neglected, real ‘dog and stick’ farming land. Over this year our very effective agents, Scottish Woodlands, have been readying the land for trees. There are a number of hoops to jump


through which are best attempted by their staff, who know the intricacies of Scottish law. A main requirement for any such planting application is the bird survey. This is expensive because it means employing people to sit down on the hillsides for days and weeks on end, recording whatever avian visitors pay a visit. It must be very tiring work! Despite holdups caused by the virus situation it appears we are now on schedule to get the planting under way shortly after Christmas. As a follow up to my recent report regards the police, we had further intrusions recently; youths running over the Big Six roof sheets of the old cattle barns, taking the huge risk of a sheet cracking and almost certain death on the concrete floor beneath. For insurance reasons I needed to call the Police again. Sussex Police have recently set up a small ‘Rural Crime Group’ and one officer showed interest, turning up the next day and instigating steps to get matters in hand. It was reassuring to speak to a policeman who actually knew what farmers, quite commonly afflicted by vandalism and theft, have to suffer. We all know the police are understaffed, so it was a great improvement on the recent police reaction. It gives some hope to country dwellers generally.

NICK ADAMES Former dairy farmer


The term “responsible use” is frequently used, but what does it actually mean? asks Dr Tim Potter BVetMed PhD MRCVS, Senior Clinical Director, Westpoint Farm Vets. “As little as possible, as much as necessary” is one phrase that has been used to describe the approach to responsible use of antimicrobial drugs on farm. Antimicrobial drugs (antibiotics) are just one of the available tools for managing disease in livestock, and it is essential that they are used alongside good husbandry, biosecurity and preventative medicines such as vaccination. In the face of a disease outbreak there may well be a place for antimicrobial drugs for immediate management, but it is important to identify the cause of the disease and formulate a management plan that will help reduce the risk of recurrence. Ultimately, preventing disease in the first instance will be better for the welfare and productivity of the animal and makes most economic sense. Youngstock disease is one area where antibiotics are frequently used in farm animal practice, often for the treatment of pneumonia and some cases of scours. These conditions are frequently identified and treated by farmers without the direct involvement of a veterinary surgeon. It is therefore important that treatment plans for commonly occurring diseases are agreed as part of the health planning process. Such plans should include details of how to identify diseases as well as what treatment should be administered and when further advice should be sought. It is also important that such treatment plans are regularly reviewed. The annual medicines review now required by Red Tractor should be viewed as an opportunity to identify specific areas within your system where the antimicrobial usage is the highest and start the process of identifying management changes that can be implemented to reduce this usage. It has been suggested that up to 50% of calves born in the UK do not receive enough good quality colostrum, leaving them at increased risk of disease and less likely to fulfil their long-term potential. Achieving early and adequate intake of high-quality colostrum is widely recognized as the single most important management factor in determining health and survival of the neonatal calf. All too often when we are dealing with issues such as pneumonia and scours in young calves, they can be traced back to issues with colostrum feeding. Good colostrum management is the cornerstone of successful calf-rearing. By having a standardised approach to colostrum management, and through routine monitoring, it is possible to ensure that all calves receive what they need, reducing the incidence of calf disease For scours, the key part of treatment will always be addressing the dehydration that it causes, as it is this which will frequently be the cause of death. Do not underestimate the amount of fluid a scouring calf will lose in diarrhoea. Early intervention and providing

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> Good colostrum management is the cornerstone of successful calf-rearing additional electrolytes and fluid as soon as you see any signs of scour will help speed recovery. Scours can be caused by many different pathogens, many of which are not treatable with antibiotics (e.g. rota and coronavirus). Rapid “penside” diagnostics can be used to identify the causative agents in cases of scours and highlight situations where additional therapies are required and help with instigating future preventative programmes such as vaccination. Pneumonia remains a significant disease of youngstock and it is important to rapidly identify and treat the condition. Failure to intervene in the early stages of the disease will result in increased risk of treatment failure and potential long-term reductions in performance. There are a number of studies that have demonstrated the problems with accurate diagnosis on farm and new technologies are beginning to help address this, along with standardised scoring systems. Alongside rapid and accurate disease identification, the optimisation of animal husbandry and use of vaccination will help minimise the impact of pneumonia on farm. Ensuring animals are kept


BVetMed PhD MRCVS Senior Clinical Director

in well ventilated sheds with proper drainage will reduce the risk of disease and keeping stock of different ages in different airspace will help reduce potential disease transmission. We are lucky to have several very effective pneumonia vaccines at our disposal which can be given prior to periods of disease risk to reduce the impact of pneumonia. Antimicrobials will remain a key tool for the treatment of the disease, but it is essential that they are not used as an alternative to good management. We would also always advocate the use of an anti-inflammatory drug alongside the antimicrobial as they have been shown to reduce the inflammatory process that causes lung damage and makes the animal feel unwell. Antimicrobial drugs are an important tool in the treatment of youngstock disease and it is essential that everyone involved in their use works to ensure they are used responsibly to help preserve their availability and effectiveness. The responsible use of antimicrobials means reducing the need for them through a holistic approach to disease control, and when they are required ensuring that they are used correctly.

If you would to discuss anything covered in this article contact your local Westpoint practice.


Westpoint Horsham Westpoint Ashford T: 01306 628086 T: 01306 628208 E: info@westpointfarmvets.co.uk


Westpoint Sevenoaks T: 01959 564383








I enjoy a good read and currently I am in the middle of James Rebanks’ English Pastoral, a good, thought-provoking read to which I will later return. It is, however, a book that has caused me to reflect, at some length, on my life within farming. My early years were spent in the small village of Fishbourne, now famous for its Roman Villa, just outside Chichester, and I suspect that my rural upbringing meant I was always destined for a career in the countryside. My introduction to farming began probably around the age of four or five. Although not from a farming background, a good friend at the time was a farmer’s son who lived just a couple of hundred yards along the lane; as a result we spent many hours on the farm together, returning home only to be fed. Initially it was time spent exploring and playing, but this soon developed into “working” on the farm, not because we had to, but because we wanted to, as making some sort of contribution seemed important. Our efforts began with fetching the house cow, a large, red Dairy Shorthorn, each morning from her paddock across the lane, into her loose box ready for milking, a process which we at first observed but soon took on as a regular part of our day. By the age of seven or eight we had also developed a level of competence (quite competitive) in hoeing and singling sugar beet in the spring. During summer we followed the potato spinner to harvest potatoes. These were hand picked into hessian sacks which, once they began to fill, were a bit of a struggle to drag along the rows. They did, however, with one corner tucked into the other, make a reasonably good cape to keep us dry when it rained. Within a couple of years we were big enough to get involved in harvesting sugar beet; with the roots loosened by a cultivator running between the rows we would pull and top and tail the beets, leaving the tops and roots in nice tidy rows, the latter ready for throwing into a trailer later. What has this got to do with sheep? Nothing, really, but this was the seed that stimulated my interest in farming and the countryside. In reality as a child I rarely saw a sheep; they were very much a creature of the Downs. I recall seeing pens of Southdown sheep on visits to Chichester Market, but it was always the cattle that impressed me the most. I remember very clearly how on the way to school, on Wednesday mornings, we regularly encountered large groups of Sussex cattle, (all with, what appeared at the time, enormous horns), being walked from the Downs into the market. While the majority of people ducked into shop doorways to escape from the advancing herd, I simply looked on in awe; even now seeing Sussex cattle takes me back to those childhood days, they just don’t look quite so big now. I didn’t really encounter sheep until many years later when I working as an

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assistant scientific officer with the Nature Conservancy Council (now English Nature, quite a different organisation and not necessarily for the better) in Bangor, North Wales. My involvement was not directly with sheep; quite the opposite. Part of the research being carried out at the time was the use of excluded grazing plots at various points in the mountains to monitor the impact of sheep grazing on the mountain flora; plots that were fenced off, some permanently and some for different periods in the year. While working on the plots we would regularly be visited by inquisitive groups of Welsh Mountain ewes, generally with their lambs, simply wishing to investigate what was going on. The ability of these tough little sheep to thrive in some very harsh environments and their seemingly innate and endless curiosity obviously struck a chord with me. There was a detour into dairying, an interest that arose while I was living in a caravan on a small dairy farm on Anglesey while working in Bangor. Not being someone who enjoyed doing nothing, I quickly became involved with work on the farm at weekends; a nice farmhouse Sunday roast was always a welcome reward for my efforts. This interest precipitated a move back to Sussex, where I spent a couple of years as an assistant herdsman with a 180-cow Friesian herd (quite a large herd more than 50 years ago) and then on to study dairying (the old National Diploma in Dairying) at college in South Wales. As dairying students, we didn’t have a great deal to do with the college sheep flock, but come shearing time the attractions of a certain young lady (now my other half) led me to volunteer to help with shearing when her course was involved with shearing practical. It was at this point that I discovered that sheep were actually quite interesting animals. Moving on from there to University in Bangor (mountains and climbing were the real attraction), an opportunity arose soon after arrival to work on one of the university farms. It was a chance that I grasped firmly and it was here that I truly fell under the spell of sheep. Most of my spare time, weekends and holidays were spent working with a flock of 250 Welsh Mountain ewes and a Welsh Black suckler herd, even getting involved with performance testing of Welsh Mountain rams; I had found my niche. Seeing the sunrise from the tops of the Carneddau, ready, in place to start the summer gather at first light, men and dogs working together, gathering and moving some 15,000 ewes and lambs into the sorting pens before the day became too hot was pure poetry; what more could anyone want? Four years on a research farm in the Middle East served only to both broaden and strengthen my interest and passion for sheep. As the project extension officer, most of my work was with local oasis farmers, but the project sheep specialist, while having a PhD based on sheep research, was not a very hands-on sort of guy, which gave me plenty of opportunities to get stuck in with the 1,600 ewe project flock (400 each of Mutton Merino, Dorper, Awassi and Najdi sheep). The variety added considerable interest, as did the realisation that different breeds of sheep varied not just in appearance but more interestingly also in both behaviour and character; a sheep was not just a sheep. After several years in an academic environment, returning to North Wales



September saw another great month for selling livestock by auction. The only disappointment is the number of stock is short of what is required, and we hope numbers will increase to ensure realistic returns are received for stock sold. In Colchester, we saw throughout September a strong trade for prime cattle, but the number of handy weight butchers’ cattle are extremely short, resulting in cattle regularly trading from 230p/kg to 240p/kg live weight. This trade also reinforced the commercial cattle, where returns were well above twelve months ago. As always, live markets sell all qualities of stock and all breeds. These are all included in the averages, whether they be Dexters or Prime Limousin cattle. As they say, seeing is believing and we always recommend that all vendors are in attendance if possible, to see their stock sold, observing strict social distancing rules. As this report was being written, the tightening of Covid-19 rules saw an increase in demand for manufacturing cattle due to the demand for mince and other manufactured beef.

As a result, cull cows were selling extremely well as were overage steers and heifers. The future looks positive and we just hope that is the case. Store cattle are also finding a buoyant demand throughout, and many more are required to fill yards which are now empty. The only negative factors being shortage of winter fodder, which may become more of an issue over a long winter. The sheep trade remained very strong in Colchester and throughout the country, particularly for heavier weight lambs, where there seems to be a distinct shortage. We still sold sheep throughout the month of September at over £100 a head, peaking at £137 a head. This is a tremendous result. Averages are well above last year, although to be fair, by the end of the month averages had split back to around 200p/kg with better sheep trading around 220p/kg, still well ahead of a year ago. Again, this is a remarkable upturn and let’s hope it continues. Looking at numbers on the ground, it does seem that sheep numbers will be short in the eastern counties.

generated a desire to get back to grass roots, hence a couple of years spent contracting, basically doing anything going; fencing, a bit of tractor driving on occasions, a smattering of routine beef herd management and a lot of routine flock management, from lowland flocks on Anglesey to a hill flock in Snowdonia. This included shearing, which started on the Lleyn Peninsular (where I first encountered and admired Lleyn sheep) and ended with the later mountain flocks. Eventually, however, with a young family to consider, the need for a better work/life balance, a little more job security and a bit more money precipitated a move back into a more academic environment as a lecturer in agriculture at Hadlow, Kent. It was quite a culture shock moving from the rather more laid-back attitude of the Welsh to discover the rat race in the South East. I certainly missed the regular sheep work, so once settled and able to find a bit of grazing to rent, we began to build our own flock, initially a ragtag mob of draft South Wales Mountain ewes that were interesting, fun and suited us for a while. They provided a welcome release from some of the day-to-day pressures, but once finance allowed we invested in our own pedigree flock. My breed choice, based upon my experience with the lovely, medium-sized and prolific sheep that I had sheared on the Lleyn peninsula, was the Lleyn. After more than 30 years with the Lleyn they are still my passion and my joy; maybe not always instep with other breeders, but I know what I like and what does well for me. It is this that brings me back to James Rebanks. His book focuses very much on how farming has changed significantly over the years, a feeling with which I have a great deal of empathy. I have seen a lot of changes in 60-plus years, some good and some not quite so good, I have also seen producers forced, by circumstances, to adopt practices that they are not comfortable with.

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For and on behalf of Stanfords T: 01206 842156 E: info@stanfords-colchester.co.uk www.stanfords-colchester.co.uk Store sheep prices are also supported, as with the cattle, by the finished trade. Again, many more could be sold. It is also pleasing to see this year that fodder crops were looking better on the ground, with stubble turnips much stronger than 12 months ago in most places. Pigs continue to be a difficult trade with the uncertainly again of the European market. The cull sow trade was particularly difficult, as in previous months. Producers, again, were not helped by the reduction in trade and high corn and other feed input prices. As always, supporting the live system enables farmers to maximise returns and also have the choice, in most markets, to take stock home if they are not happy with the end result. All auctioneers are happy to discuss marketing of producers’ stock at any time.

James Rebanks sums up by describing his return to a system of sustainable (regenerative) farming, pleasing neither the more “progressive” farming lobby nor the environmental lobby, but a system that he feels comfortable with, a feeling that I share and with which I have a great deal of sympathy. Sheep and sheep production does lend itself readily to a return to what some may call old fashioned, or traditional, but I prefer the term sustainable practices. Across the UK our sheep have, for generations, managed the landscapes and created the countryside that people enjoy, which has generated a degree of empathy from the general public. It is a public good and it should be recognised as such. It is a public good which we cannot afford to lose.







T: 01264 321 595 www.openfield.co.uk

ELVED PHILLIPS ARABLE NOTES I think happiness is the 2020 harvest in your rear view mirror! During the past three months we have already had just about every twist or turn in quality or marketing that you could expect in a year. We have had ample time to prepare for the predicted shortage of domestic wheat and surplus of barley. Yet still the spot cash market for grain does not want to lie down, with flour millers and compounders still buying for delivery next week while at the same time being reluctant to pay any sort of carry and buy for the forward months.



Apart from the UK, the weather in the main global production areas has been benign: no summer droughts in the Black Sea, no panic over the critical development months for US maize, the Australian record wheat crop looks like it’s coming into land ok, with the Indian monsoon normal for a change. Ok, so there is some dry weather now in Russia, Ukraine and Argentina but that can only affect next years crop. Notwithstanding all of this, we have had an amazing bull run on prices, especially for wheat and just recently maize, as the USDA surprised everyone by knocking seven million tonnes off America’s maize stocks. China has been the main driver of this bullish market. What China has been doing is hoovering up huge quantities of US maize and soya. For the previous six months China had been auctioning off its domestic stocks and it is now replacing them at much cheaper values. It’s certainly been re-building its pig

AMAZING BULL RUN ON PRICES herd, so it all makes sense. Maybe they are keen to get it all bought, in case of a change in the White House!


That’s another non-fundamental factor which has helped to ‘bull up’ our markets. Over the past month there has been a big sell off in equities, stocks and shares. It’s not just the usual pre-election sell off. As indicated by the volatility of VIX futures, investors are really concerned that if President Trump should lose the election he will cry ‘foul’ over postal votes, demand another vote and refuse to transfer power. So the big hedge funds have been selling off equities and buying commodities, and guess what, the cheapest was maize futures! So even before the news about reduced stocks, maize futures spiked and made the hedge funds a lot of money, but what will they do next? Our market should be more predictable. Weak sterling falling to an exchange rate of 93p to the Euro has made imported wheat more expensive, ELVED hence the ex-farm price PHILLIPS increasing by about £15 Openfield recently. We know that a lot of wheat, at least one million


tonnes, has been pre-booked for import to the UK, before the danger of tariffs being applied post Brexit. If we get a deal which allows us to carry on trading levy free with the EU, then happy days, but millers have not put their trust in that; the wheat has already been bought. No deal and import taxes could keep the new year market firm, but when you look at the 42% stock to use ratio on world wheat and the intention to plant ‘wall to wall’ wheat this autumn, my conclusion is that this bull run will come to an end. If demand destruction re-appears because of the Covid-19 lockdowns, it will end sooner rather than later.


The lesson from history remains 2013, when similar wheat prices to our current values fell away in the second half of the year and were £110-ex farm the following Autumn. So this is yet another reason for selling new crop wheat at £150. To paraphrase Dickens you may look back upon 2020 as “the best of times” in terms of price and “the worst of times” for yield and quality, but it will be a long time before you see these prices again. You can always tell when a ‘bull’ market is ‘tired’; traders keen to prolong it start imagining stories about La Nina and locusts!

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I was interested to learn that Crop Health And Protection (CHAP) is to launch a digital service designed to help England’s arable farmers predict the likelihood of pest and disease outbreaks on their farms. As any arable farmers worth their salt know, though, what we really need is a service that warns us about the biggest pest of all… this government coming up with daft or alarmingly vague postBrexit farm policy proposals. So it is that I’ve decided to launch my own digital service: Who Are These Clowns, Huh?! (WATCH?!). CHAP proposes to warn us about field-level risks to winter wheat, winter oilseed rape and potatoes by analysing the relationship between real-time Met Office weather data, crop growth stage and reports of pests and diseases in local areas. This will now be backed up by my own WATCH?! which will warn arable farmers of threats like the approach of the end of the UK’s EU withdrawal period (less than 12 weeks’ time) without there being any credible food trade or farm support policies in place. CHAP uses a traffic light system to demonstrate crop vulnerability to attack from the likes of sap-sucking, nutrient-draining aphids. WATCH?! will do the same for farmers and their susceptibility to politicians and their hollow

WATCH?! assurances that “everything will be ok”. So, whenever DEFRA Secretary George Eustice makes any policy proposals, WATCH?! will flash amber. If Trade Secretary Liz Truss announces “good progress” in trade talks with the US on chlorinated chicken imports it will start to flash red. Furthermore, I am considering placing an additional vibration alert as we approach 31 December” and arable farmers are potentially faced with tariff-free imports of Argentinian wheat. Given the government’s record on farm policy, WATCH?! will not be fitted with a green light. CHAP says that its digital programme will help guide farmers’ decision-making and prioritise which crops need treatment at what time. Chris Delf, business development manager for CHAP says that its digital service “does not take away the need for farmer or agronomist judgement but helps ensure plant protection products are being applied at the right time and in the best

STEPHEN CARR Arable farmer

conditions”. WATCH?! will be different. It will only have one recommendation: “Never vote for this lot again”. CHAP hopes to develop its ‘CropMonitorPro’ into other crops like winter barley, peas and beans and even an onion module restricted to downy mildew predictions. Similarly with WATCH?! I propose to extend the service and develop an app so that arable farmers can access it wherever they are. The app will predict the severe risk of take-all affecting arable farmers’ pockets. Only a red light symbol will be installed.


With Brexit uncertainty continuing, farmers have been advised to keep their options open by selecting wheat varieties with both strong domestic and export potential. Martin Perry, Senior Trader at Bartholomews Agri Food Limited, pointed out that with next year’s UK wheat harvest estimated to top 16 million tonnes, there was also a possibility of a significant export surplus. “If a no-deal scenario can be avoided, varieties that are ideal for export could command decent premiums,” he said. “The European market uses different testing methods such as the Chopin Alveograph to measure how varieties bake and perform as bread rather than analysing Hagberg or specific weight as we do in the UK. “The key to a variety’s suitability is its extensibility as a dough and it is here that some UK Group 3 varieties, such as Elicit and Firefly, are very desirable for export into Iberian countries such as Portugal and Spain,” he went on.


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Despite the difficult timing of critical Brexit talks and the possibility of no-deal, Mr Perry said there were still positive opportunities for UK growers about to make decisions on what varieties to drill this Autumn. “Although farmers will need to make decisions before they know if there will be levy free trade into Europe next year, the positive is that there are wheats with the right baking characteristics that may still draw a premium that exceeds any likely import levy – even if we go into a no-deal situation,” he said. “Even this year, following a difficult harvest of just 10m tonnes making the UK a net importer of wheat, there is still interest in Group 3s such as Elicit and KWS Firefly for export.”

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> Left to right: Chair– Charlotte Smith with guest speakers – Minette Batters, Tim May, Doug Wanstall, Hugh Martineau




The South of England Agricultural Society’s annual farming conference is going digital this year and will take place online on Wednesday 11 November. Chaired by BBC presenter Charlotte Smith, the conference will consider whether or not UK agriculture can really achieve net zero. “In January 2019, the NFU boldly stated their ambition to achieve net zero for agriculture by 2040 – 10 years earlier than the Government’s own target,” explains Duncan Rawson, a Nuffield Scholar sponsored by the Society and organiser of the Farming Conference. “Few would dispute the impact that greenhouse gas emissions are having on global climate change, but for agriculture this is a complex picture as the industry is a significant source of emissions but equally has the ability to offer impactful solutions to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. “There is no doubt that the industry can do a great deal to reduce emissions and to capture gasses from the atmosphere, but for a sector so reliant on chemicals, from fertilisers to pesticides and diesel, we will be discussing just how radical we will have to be to deliver net zero by 2040.” Guest speakers are:


Minette runs a tenanted family farm in Wiltshire which includes a 100 cow continental cross suckler herd and a small herd of pedigree Herefords as well as sheep and arable. Diversification includes the conversion of a 17th Century tithe barn into a wedding and corporate events venue, and horse liveries.

Minette co-founded the campaigning initiatives 'Ladies in Beef' and the 'Great British Beef Week', is a trustee of Farm Africa and has been an NFU member from grassroots through to county chairman. She served as Wiltshire’s council delegate and as Regional Board Chairman for the South West. Minette has also been a member of the NFU Governance Board, serving as NFU deputy president from 2014 before being elected as president in 2018.


Tim is a fourth-generation farmer at his family farm which runs 1,000ha of Grade III land under an organic mixed farming model; four years of herbal leys for fertility building followed by four years of annual cropping. This model has been running since 2013 after Tim completed a Nuffield scholarship entitled Understanding and Implementing Sustainability. Tim is aiming to improve the level of diversity across the whole business and is actively pursuing greater productivity within the estate by increasing the number of enterprises.


Doug runs a farming enterprise – 1,100 acres of arable and a free-range egg operation with some 50,000 laying birds spread across a number of counties, together with three wedding venues - and is a director and shareholder of a food

wholesaling business. After completing a Nuffield scholarship focusing on financial resilience in farm business, Doug has been developing Re-Generation Earth, a business that acts as the conduit between those companies and individuals that wish to take responsibility for their effect on the planet and those landowners that can do something about it.


Hugh is based on a farm in the Brecon Beacons, where he is leading a net zero emissions initiative along with five other farmers in the area. Over the past 15 years he has worked with government departments and private sector clients to review, analyse and develop strategies to address environmental impacts in farming systems. A major focus area has been in relation to climate change mitigation; developing, measuring and monitoring programmes for greenhouse gas emissions and removals, including assessing 'net zero' emissions strategies. All speakers will deliver a short presentation setting out their thoughts, after which viewers can pose questions through an interactive message panel. The Farming Conference is held by the South of England Agricultural Society as part of its charitable remit to fund and support agricultural education and countryside learning.

The Farming Conference is FREE to attend and will run online from 7pm to 9pm. Visitors must register via www.seas.org.uk/farming-conference from 21 October.



The Barley Yellow Dwarf Virus (BYDV ) risk is likely to be elevated this season as a consequence of several issues, says James White, Hutchinsons agronomist. He points out that crops are being drilled earlier because of the experiences of last year. Earlier drilling means an earlier or extended season at which crops are potentially at risk. Warm soil conditions and seedbed moisture are ensuring that drilled crops are emerging rapidly, with some of the earliest drilled crops at leaf stage at the end of September. Where moisture has been lost but crops have still been drilled, it is more likely that we will see an extended period of emergence. In these circumstances, if aphids start to colonise these plants early it is imperative to time insecticides to the earliest emerged parts of the field and not wait for full emergence. We also know that warm air temperatures are conducive to early aphid flight, and we are now picking up from the trap data that aphids are already in flight. With the loss of Deter to cover the early infection period, we are now solely reliant on the pyrethroids. Also remember that without Deter we have lost the additional early protection from slug hollowing it afforded us. It’s important not to rely on variety tolerance in barley; it might mitigate some of the impact of any BYDV that gets into the crop but it shouldn’t impact on spraying decisions. With regards to the variety resistance for the wheat variety Wolverine, be cautious as it is not yet fully proven as it is still in its first commercial year. Where aphids are present in the variety, it’s important to still time the first insecticide as normal, but the likelihood of repeat applications is less likely. There are also many fields that have not been treated to kill the green bridge, be it volunteers or grass weeds. A glyphosate treatment prior to drilling or mixed in with the pre-emergence treatment will be needed to reduce the risk of virus spreading to the emerging crop. Once aphids have been seen in the crop, start counting from the 170 day degree spray threshold. The exception to this is if large numbers are seen feeding on a crop you should spray immediately then count once re-invasion occurs.


Knowing the right time to spray for optimum control is vital. The pest and disease forecast model within Omnia aims to tackle this by using weather data to make treatment timings as accurate as they can be, on a field by field basis,

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Beware of higher than normal Barley Yellow Dwarf Virus risk

53 > Damage caused by BYDV so predicted spray dates can be mapped out. The risk level is presented in a graph and accrues degree days along the 170 degree-day model that’s frequently used. The graph counts up time, and as it reaches 150-day degrees it shows up as a warning period to alert growers when they’re reaching a key timing. This email alert can be set by the user at a time dictated by themselves, say three days before for example. The model tracks when crops are drilled, as with every different drilling date there is a different risk period. It can also be manually reconfigured, and treatments – plus treatment dates – can be added to reset the model. This data can also be collated into a report to illustrate the levels of risk across the whole season and how they were treated, which will be very useful when it comes to making decisions in the future.


This is very dependant on the period that a crop is exposed to the aphids: • Earlier drilled crops are at greater risk as more

• •

• •

of the crop is emerging as aphid migration starts When migration occurs – reports at the end of September showed winged aphids moving into crops How quickly the aphids re-invade following treatment How mild the autumn remains – extending the potential period of infection later into the autumn The smaller the crop relative to being infected, the greater the yield To protect the efficacy of the pyrethroids they should be used with wetcit, as the first case of a shift in resistance status of R.padi was reported in 2020.


Hutchinsons T: 07827 245670 E: james.white@hlhltd.co.uk Canterbury: 01227 830064 www.hlhltd.co.uk


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The Agricultural Law Association’s (ALA) new Dispute Resolution Panel is set to give rural businesses streamlined access to a broad range of arbitrators, mediators, and experts. “This is the only inter-professional dispute resolution panel available to the rural sector and reflects the diversity and increasing complexity of rural businesses and agricultural enterprises,” said Alex Carson-Taylor, ALA chair. “Those appointed to the panel have been independently assessed through a rigorous process and have demonstrated excellence in an extensive range of skill sets including law, surveying, accounting, tax and trusts.” Mike Holland, secretary and adviser to the ALA, explained that the diverse range of rural businesses meant it could not be a case of “one size fits all” when business needed arbitration, mediation or an expert determination. “The panel provides professionals that reflect the many different property and business issues that can arise for owners, tenants, contractors and others,” he said, pointing out that if, for instance, parties had a legal issue rather than a valuation issue under an Agricultural Holdings Act 1986 tenancy, the panel included experts with specific legal knowledge.

A shake-up brought about by the Agriculture Bill is set to have an impact on disputes between landlords and tenants, problems within farming partnerships, development land valuations, compulsory purchases and debates over rents and terms for telecoms masts. The Central Association of Agricultural Valuers (CAAV) launched Facilitating Dispute Resolution Service at the end of September after the Bill indicated that it would be given the power to appoint arbitrators in farm tenancy disputes in England and Wales. The association’s new panel of arbitrators will “refresh and widen the options for anyone seeking an arbitrator or other dispute resolver,” explained Jeremy Moody, secretary and adviser to the CAAV. The CAAV has also announced that Lord Curry has joined the new service’s oversight board. In recognising the CAAV as a professional authority able to appoint arbitrators in England and Wales, the Bill has broadened the available options. Until now, only the president of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) has been able to appoint an arbitrator. The association’s statutory powers will only be formally granted after the Bill is enacted.

“The panel provides a cost-effective alternative to court or tribunal proceedings,” he added. Provisions in the Agriculture Bill, which will become the Agriculture Act 2020, designate the ALA as a professional authority for the appointment of arbitrators under the Agricultural Holdings Act 1986 and the Agricultural Tenancies Act 1995. “Once the legislation comes into effect, it will provide greater choice than has previously been available when only a single body was able to appoint arbitrators,” said Mr Holland. The panel is transparent and in public view to enable the parties to choose the most appropriate and qualified professional to deal with their situation, he added. “Our panel members are available for direct appointment by the parties involved in the dispute. The aim is for them to be empowered to resolve disputes quickly, efficiently and with the best professional expertise available.” Alternatively, the ALA can appoint an appropriate panel member to a dispute on request. The full list of panel members is at https://aladisputeresolution.co.uk.

SHAKE-UP SEES NEW SERVICE LAUNCHED “The service will function across the rural economy, providing landlords, tenants, utilities and businesses with the most suitable and qualified professional for their specific requirements,” Jeremy explained. “Whether overseeing a contract dispute, tenancy issue or compulsory purchase, the aim is that a timely, cost-effective, robust and practical approach is taken towards arbitration, using the powers of the Arbitration Act. Businesses need an effective answer in good time so that they can move on.” Disputes within farming partnerships may need arbitration or mediation to save them from the courts, while the major changes proposed to England’s planning system could also lead to disputes over development land contracts and valuations. Other areas where arbitration may prove useful


are disputes over compensation for new water pipes, compulsory purchase and the Electronics Communications Code, which has already given rise to numerous disputes over rents and terms for telecoms sites. On the telecoms issue, Kate Russell, technical and policy adviser to the CAAV, said the recent flurry of court cases had shed some light on how valuations should be approached, both for new sites and lease renewals on existing masts. “These disputes have gone to tribunals and courts because the parties need guidance on interpretation of the law at the moment. Our new service could be used to speed up and cut the cost of this process,” she said. For more information visit www.caav.org.uk


PROTECTING JOBS THROUGH WINTER Many in the rural sector will have welcomed the Government’s announcement of the Job Support Scheme (JSS) during what is already predicted to be a difficult winter. The scheme aims to protect what the Chancellor calls ‘viable’ jobs. The new JSS will replace the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme – or furlough – which was due to finish at the end of October. An extension to the SelfEmployment Income Support Scheme was also announced.


The intention behind this scheme is clear from its name – the Government hopes it will help protect jobs over the winter and avoid job losses and redundancies when furlough ends. It aims to keep employees in the workforce of businesses that are currently facing lower demand than normal, even if they are unable to work their usual hours.


The JSS is designed so employees receive at least 77% of their normal wages, subject to a cap on government contributions. Employers wanting to claim from the scheme cannot make their employees redundant or put them on notice of redundancy while the grant is being claimed.


Under the scheme, employees will need to work at least 33% of their usual hours and employers are responsible for paying the usual wages for this time. For hours not worked (a maximum of 67%), the employee will be paid two-thirds of their usual hourly wage, as follows: • One-third of hours not worked will be paid by the Government (up to a cap of £697.92) per month. This will mean the Government’s contribution is a maximum of 22%. This will reduce on a sliding scale, the more hours the employee actually works. • One-third of hours not worked will be paid by the employer. Employers will remain responsible for paying National Insurance and pension contributions, and payments under the JSS will be made monthly in arrears. As with the furlough scheme, there is some flexibility to bring employees on and off the JSS. Each short-time working arrangement must cover a minimum pay period of seven days, but employees will be able to work different patterns in different pay periods.


Employers can claim under the scheme provided they have a UK bank account and UK PAYE scheme. They do not need to have previously used the furlough

scheme in order to claim the grant. Employees must have been on the PAYE payroll on or before 23 September 2020 to qualify. SMEs do not need to undergo any financial assessment to access the grant, but large businesses will have a higher bar and must demonstrate through a financial assessment test that their turnover has been adversely affected by Covid-19. If the test is met, and the grant claimed, large businesses will be expected not to make any capital distributions (such as dividend payments) while accessing the grant. Employers are required to agree the short-time working arrangements with employees and confirm the changes in writing. The Government has also confirmed that employers using the JSS can claim the Job Retention Bonus if they are eligible.


With the scheme opening on 1 November and continuing for six months until April 2021, employers should think about whether they plan to utilise it and whether this will be for all or just some jobs. Employers will also need to consider how they will obtain employee consent and what form of written agreement will be used to record the arrangements.


In parallel to the Job Support Scheme, the Government also announced an extension to the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme. Eligible selfemployed people will receive two grants between November 2020 and April 2021 if they are actively trading but have been impacted by a reduced demand caused by coronavirus. The structure of the grant will be: • A taxable grant covering 20% of average monthly trading profits for the period 1 November until 31 January (capped at £1,875 in total). • A second grant covering the period from 1 February until the end of April. The level of this grant will be set soon. While the next six months will be a difficult period for many businesses in the rural sector, these schemes will go some way to support those that see lower than normal takings.


Associate, Brachers LLP T: 01622 655281 E: abigailbrightwell@brachers.co.uk www.brachers.co.uk

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There has been much talk recently about the government’s Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI). Billed as a ‘stepping stone’ scheme for English farmers, bridging the 2022-2024 gap ahead of the introduction of the Environmental Land Management scheme (ELMS), it hit the headlines in September. DEFRA Secretary of State George Eustice has, however, been making reference to an SFI for some time. Even as far back as February, he told the NFU conference he envisaged a three-tier ELM scheme, the first part of which would be a “sustainable farming incentive”. It would, he said, be open to all and encourage farm-level measures such as integrated pest management, sensitive hedgerow management and soil health. Following this, he suggested, would be a local environment tier which would incentivise work such as habitat creation, tree planting and natural flood management. Finally, there would be a landscape-scale tier supporting endeavours such as woodland creation, peatland restoration and other land use changes. Having been working with clients to help them make up the cash shortfall they’re facing as a result of the phasing out of BPS, the news of an interim scheme is on first impression to be welcomed. Anything that fills this ‘hungry gap’ has to be good news. But one can’t help question the logic of introducing yet another new scheme, especially for such a short period. Let’s face it, DEFRA’s record on launching and running new schemes is hardly exemplary. Plus, the Countryside Stewardship (CS) scheme, which is already up and running, could easily be adjusted to attract a wider take-up ahead of a fullscale ELMS launch. Rather than reinventing the wheel, why not tweak CS to enable more existing and new options to be added to current agreements, such as offering payments for carbon storage? This would bring additional environmental benefits and get more cash to farmers. Win-win. The difficulty at present is that HLS agreements expire partway through the year and CS starts on 1 January, so there is a break in funding. Also,


SUPPORT WELCOME But let’s not reinvent the wheel when we could adapt current schemes farmers already in CS are not able to add options to their current schemes. Simply permitting additions to existing agreements and transfers from HLS to CS would solve these problems, though. After all, CS has many measures that fit well with modern farming (such as herbal leys and legume fallows) and DEFRA has provided several ways to engage with it, through mid-tier, higher tier and wildlife offers. Those looking to apply next year will have a broad range of options to help them make up the BPS shortfall, as well as derive environmental and agronomic benefit on the ground. The removal of greening meaning the end of the three-crop rule and environmental focus areas really opens the door to a more imaginative CS scheme. We’re helping clients fill the cash shortfall presented by the disappearance of BPS in all manner of ways; everything from introducing new agricultural enterprises and diversifications to accessing new grants and implementing costcutting measures. There are some great opportunities, particularly in the heavily populated South East, involving property, retail and (looking beyond Covid-19, hard as that is) events. Having so many people on the doorstep can bring problems such as fly-tipping and trespass, but it also creates a huge market. Nonetheless, support of this kind between 2022 and 2024 is much-needed and could make the difference between profit and loss for many farm businesses. The million dollar question is what the SFI will look like in practice. Giving evidence to Parliament’s Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee towards the end of September, George Eustice promised to reveal more later in the year with the publication of a “route map”.

• Farm and Estate Management • Farm Business Consultancy • Viticulture • Countryside Stewardship • Ecological Surveys • Planning Applications


As to whether any such document will have been published by the time you’re reading this is anyone’s guess. Pushed as to how confident he was that it would be in the public domain by November or December, George Eustice’s answer was an enigmatic: “Fairly confident – but I’ve learnt in this job to under-promise and over-deliver rather than the other way round.” What’s important, whether the SFI ultimately ends up as an evolution of existing schemes or something brand new, is that DEFRA needs to learn from previous mistakes. George Eustice has promised that it will be a transition, reflecting “year-on-year progress to the end state… rather than a big-bang revolution with a new IT system and a brand new system that farmers have to get used to”. Well at least that’s something. Heaven help us if we were to get the dreaded beta-testing and soft launches of previous schemes’ IT systems, which have all been just euphemisms for poorly thoughtthrough policies and excuses for incomplete systems. SFI and ELMS policies both have to recognise that a commercially viable farming sector is the backbone of a complex, interconnected, rural socioeconomic ‘ecosystem’. This first iteration, whether it ends up being called the SFI, ELMS Part I or indeed anything else, needs to be light on bureaucracy, simple-tounderstand and easy to join.

ANTHONY WESTON Director, CLM T: 01892 770339  @anthonycweston www.c-l-m.co.uk

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GUIDE: £750,000


BTF Partnership is offering for sale a ring-fenced parcel of agricultural land known as The Moat Farmland on the outskirts of the village of Benenden in the county of Kent. The property has many environmental characteristics including woodland shaws and Wealden ponds and extends to a total of approximately 87 acres. The land has a guide price of £750,000. The farmland is one mile west of Benenden with the main access through Apple Pie Farm Business Park on the B2086 Cranbrook Road and an additional access to the east if required. The land is situated in the High Weald of Kent within an AONB, is classified as Grade III on the Agricultural Land Classification Plan and is split as follows: • Arable Land – 65.76 acres • Grassland – 5.16 acres • Woodland –14.73 acres • Ponds – 1.35 acres • Total – 87 acres The land is currently farmed under a contract farming agreement and is planted with winter crops. The woodland consists predominantly of natural broadleaf species including Oak, Hornbeam and Ash with a single Conifer plantation on the eastern boundary which is coming to maturity. The Vendor has recently submitted an application for the Countryside Stewardship Scheme which has not yet been granted but we believe there are several environmental positives and biodiversity potential for this land moving forward.

TO ADVERTISE CALL 01303 233883

Alex Cornwallis at BTF Partnership comments: “This is a very useful parcel of land with good sized field parcels and links to natural biodiversity with several Wealden Ponds and woodland shaws. It is rare for a parcel of land of this size within this area to come onto the open market and I anticipate interest will be high from the local farming community looking to expand their existing operations. There may also be interest from purchasers looking into Biodiversity Net Gain along with Natural Capital enthusiasts.”

Barn / Light Industrial Unit for long-term Lease in Buckinghamshire / Bedfordshire • 3 or more offices / meeting rooms • Production area / warehouse with concrete flooring • Three phase power supply • Kitchen & WC facilities • Central Heating • Car parking for several cars • 4G Phone Network & Fibre Broadband • We would need to install a chimney / extractor vent


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Brilliant Finance offers a friendly, approachable, trustworthy, personal and professional finance service to the farming community. The firm has years of experience dealing with the farming community and firmly believes the personal touch is essential in any business relationship. Loans can be arranged from three months to 25 years for amounts between £10,000 and £5,000,000 and Brilliant Finance can provide specialist help for difficult cases. Offering “the finance you require in the timeframe that you need”, Brilliant Finance loans can be for any purpose. A loan can be arranged to fund expansion, building work or new equipment, or to settle an outstanding financial problem such as a tax demand or a divorce. Whatever the reason, it’s likely that Brilliant Finance’s specialist farm experts can help. The firm claims its success is largely because of its ‘hands on’ approach, with every case dealt with personally by a principal of the business with expertise in farm finance. The team goes to great lengths to assure clients that they never become just a ‘number’. Naturally it helps that Brilliant Finance has a superb relationship with lenders.

FAST FRIENDLY FARM FINANCE Brilliant Finance works hard to understand the challenges farms face today, especially in cases where a bank will not help. Farmers and landowners looking for alternative finance may feel they have no one to turn to but Brilliant Finance is often that alternative. The firm can assist where there is a cash flow problem. Poor credit can be dealt with and Brilliant Finance can also accept projected income if plans are viable, helping if the previous year’s profits were low but plans for the future will turn things around. Brilliant Finance lend against property, farms, farm buildings, equestrian buildings, bare land and buy-to-lets. They point out: “If it can be done – we can help!” Call free on 0800 280 0605.


The Knight Frank Farmland Index tracks the value of bare agricultural land in England and Wales

The average price of bare agricultural land in England and Wales hit nd Index tracks the value of bare £7,000/acre for the first time in over a year during the third quarter of s the value ofthebare nd and Walesto 2020, according Knight Frank Farmland Index.

Values rose by 0.5% between June and September, but due to a small dip at the beginning of the year are only slightly up on year-ago levels. Over a fiveyear period the index has slipped by 16%, but it is still 20% higher than it was a decade ago. There is a shortage of availability due to the Covid-19 pandemic – according to the Farmers Weekly Land Tracker the amount of land launched is down 41% so far year on year – and pent-up demand has helped to keep values steady, despite the prevailing Brexit uncertainty. Farmers, often backed up by rollover funds, are still the main purchasing group, accounting for 41% of buyers, with lifestyle purchasers making up 36% of the market. Investors were involved in almost 20% of deals. A number of deals are still comfortably breaking the £10,000/acre barrier as buyers bid competitively for the few large blocks of quality land, that have been put up for sale. There has, for example, been strong interest in recently launched 1,408-acre Ogbourne Down in Wiltshire. The outlook for the next 12 months will depend on whether the UK eventually makes a trade deal with the EU and also on the outcome of Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s delayed budget, which is now not due to be presented until the spring. However, with potential vendors still reticent about bringing their farms to

market, average values should hold their own in the short term. A no-deal Brexit could even make UK land more attractive to overseas investors if the pound continues to lose ground against the euro.



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– A NEW ERA FOR PUBLIC CONSULTATION? As lockdown restrictions began to ease, Boris Johnson delivered his ‘build build build’ speech and revealed the government’s plans for economic recovery to deal with the damage caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. He also promised to undertake “the most radical reforms to our planning system since the Second World War”. The proposed reforms and the Planning for the Future white paper have subsequently been released, but it remains to be seen whether these will have the desired effect on planning and housing delivery. Unless you work in the industry, are a property developer, councillor, housing enthusiast or a stalwart NIMBY, there is a high probability you have never had the pleasure of engaging with the planning system. Obtaining planning permission is an incredibly complex, risky and costly process to navigate, requiring patience, an eye for detail and significant financial backing. Throw into the mix that housing is like marmite – people either love it or hate it – getting a planning application through the system is not for the faint hearted. Churchill Home Insurance found that with an average of 2.2 objections to every application, and 870,000 planning applications submitted since the start of 2017, this equates to 80 objections every hour over the past three years. In addition, research by Shelter found people who are opposed to local housing are three times

more likely to actively oppose than supporters are to actively support an application (21% compared to 7%). Pre-Covid this was certainly our experience. Often the loudest voices and those most actively involved in public consultation were those against development, believing it would have a negative impact on their community. Public events were often dominated by individuals who owned their own home, had high disposable incomes and had the time and means to attend in person. How we interact and air our views has changed for at least the short to medium term, and many of the standard planning public consultation methods have fallen by the wayside due to social distancing restrictions. We are now all familiar with Teams and Zoom calls which can overcome many of the time and accessibility barriers that prevented people from attending consultation events in person. Social media also offers an opportunity to engage with, and gather opinion from, a wider demographic. ‘The silent majority’, including those looking to take their first steps on the housing ladder, key workers, growing families and people with disabilities looking for a new home, often found it difficult to attend and engage with community consultation. With the increased use of technology, they are now able to actively engage in the process at a time and location that suits them.


A perceived lack of transparency and openness and a deficit of communication and engagement breeds resent and cynicism, which often manifests itself in direct opposition, both at a political and local level. Listening and responding to the community and adapting proposals where possible to ensure the community recognises that their meaningful input has been recognised, helps to develop trust between all parties. By embracing technology to change the face of public consultation, maybe - just maybe - we might encourage more people to engage in the planning process and the silent majority might find their voice, ultimately securing more support for new homes.

Could your land have development potential? Find out more about our approach to public consultation and how we can maximise the value of your land.


Associate Director, Marketing & Communications T: 01926 836910 E: katiey@catesbyestates.co.uk W: www.catesbyestates.co.uk



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Call: 01342 337159 www.southernsheeting.co.uk

Hill Place Farm, Turners Hill Road, East Grinstead, West Sussex RH19 4LX




TEL: 07813 910975 01233 750123

Ideal for offices, holiday lets, and dwellings. Quick to erect.


E: camilesconstruction@hotmail.co.uk

Bespoke options include:

Side extensions • Steel housing Office blocks • Asbestos removal All groundworks undertaken All frames are


ENWARD Grain stores • Cattle buildings • Dairy units Change of use and refurbishment of existing buildings

FARM BUILDING REPAIRS We will continue to work through coronavirus, and we will be available to attend site and estimate customers projects and/or insurance repair/works. We have now insisted that our employees wear suitable personal protection equipment on any such works until further notice.


Kenward Construction based in Horsham, West Sussex offer a full design and build service for your next steel framed building including composite cladding, concrete panels, roller shutter doors and bespoke designs to meet individual planning conditions. Kenward Construction also offer a wide range of services offering a truly one stop shop for your next farm building project. Demolition, plant hire, access roads, drainage, sewage treatment plants, rainwater harvesting, biobed wash downs, paving, concrete foundations / slabs, walling and site landscaping.

Arrange a site visit with one of our contracts managers to discuss your project in more detail by emailing enquiries@kenwardgroundworks.co.uk or call 01403 210218


REFURBS, BIG 6 ROOF SHEETS, ROOF LIGHTS, RIDGES, VERGES, VALLEY GUTTERS, BOX GUTTERS, BOUNDARY GUTTERS, ASBESTOS, SHEETING Single Sheet To Whole Roof Roller Shutters Accidental or Storm Damage Works Demolition Refurbishments Waste Clearances


SOUTH EAST CLADDING LTD Professional Services to the Agricultural, Industrial & Equestrian Sectors


FREEPHONE: 01233 659129

from BT land-line

MOBILE: 07813 142 145 charlie.woodger@btinternet.com


Agriculture ~ Cold Storage ~ Equestrian ~ Industrial ~ Waste Recycling • Agricultural Buildings • Cold Store Buildings • Equestrian Buildings • Industrial Buildings • Waste Recycling Buildings TO ADVERTISE CALL 01303 233883

01323 890403 www.danddconstruction.co.uk info@danddconstruction.co.uk

• Structural Steel • Drawing Services • Design Services • Mezzanine Floors • Custom Steelwork






Supply and erecting of

Steel framed buildingS

Fully insured and licensed. 23 years family run business. Covering all KENT & SUSSEX


We will continue to work through coronavirus, and we will be available to attend site and estimate customers projects and/or insurance repair/works. We have now insisted that our employees wear suitable personal protection equipment on any such works until further notice.

Contact Arthur on 07860 193716 Mark on 07771 516716 Tel/Fax: 01227 831658 ardfs@vfast.co.uk




Family run business with over 45+ years of experience, from concept to completion. Family business Family runrun business


with over 45+45+ years of of with over years

Asbestos Sheet removal Roof & gutter repairs New roofs & cladding Refurbishments Roller shutter doors Demolition & clearance


experience, concept experience, from concept Steel framefrom buildings, to completion. to completion. cladding and associated works. Steel frame buildings, Steel frame buildings, cladding andand associated cladding associated Specialists in: works. works.

• Agricultural,


Specialists in: in: equestrian & light Specialists • Agricultural, industrial buildings • Agricultural, equestrian & light equestrian & light • In house fabrication industrial buildings industrial buildings •• In Planning services house fabrication • In house fabrication available • Planning services • Planning services available available01323 848684 lanesconstruction.co.uk lanesbuildings@btconnect.com lanesconstruction.co.uk lanesbuildings@btconnect.com 01323 848684 lanesconstruction.co.uk lanesbuildings@btconnect.com 01323 848684 APPROVED APPROVED



Contact: Chris, for a no obligation quotation: Tel: 07813 142145 or 01233 659129 (7 days)



Penfold Profiles


Asbestos removal Sheeting Guttering

Tel: 01732 460912 Mobile: 07976 287836 Email: sales@shortlandstructures.com









Specialists in agricultural and industrial buildings ASBESTOS Survey Removal Disposal

GUTTERS Aluminium liners PVC liners Accessories

SHEETING Complete buildings New roof system for conversions Repairs – Rooflights

 07864 823 476  07889 481618  penfoldprofiles@btinternet.com www.penfoldprofiles.co.uk

Penfold Profiles. Lees Paddock, High Halden, Ashford, Kent NOVEMBER 2020 | WWW.SOUTHEASTFARMER.NET


Drainage Contractors Working with farmers since 1947


(01622) 890884 Email: info@brownsdrainage.co.uk


To advertise in South East Farmer telephone 01303 233883




   






CLASSIFIEDS CONTRACTORS Grubbing, timber & groundwork services • orchard grubbing

• land clearance

• windbreak removal

• excavations

• timber extraction

• cultivations

• fallen tree removal

• pond dredging

• ground contouring

• reservoir construction

W.H.Skinner & Sons


01622 744640 - 07711 264775 www.whskinnerandsons.co.uk

R.POPOVIC & SON Agricultural Contractors


• Round or Big Square baling and wrapping • Forage harvesting • Muck spreading • Cultivations, grass seeding etc • All grassland and forest ride maintenance • Complete or part operations • All other associated work undertaken

Est 1966


Call Nick Popovic on 01323 832002 or 07889 177434

oodfarms.com PHONE: 01795 880441



TOM: 01795 880441 or 07884 664035

EMAIL: james@swattwood.com EMAIL: james@swattwood.com GRAIN STORAGE & TESTING

  LANDwww.swjfattwood.com DRAINAGE ER INFORMATION  PLANT HIRE OUR NTACT US OR VISIT Fencing Services 65  INERT TIPPING Specialists in Stock, Deer and Equestrian Fencing  GRAIN STORAGE & TESTING To advertise in South East Farmer 795 880441 CLAY SALES Covering the South East Tel: (01403) 700509 Mobile: 07836 219344 telephone 01303 233883

www.attwoodfarms.com PHILIP JUNIPER ®

   





INERT TIPPINGManufacturers of Chestnut Fencing Products w.attwoodfarms.com

    



Hardwood gates


Cleft post and rail


Stakes and posts


Chestnut fencing

FULL LAND DRAINAGE SERVICE sportsfields, amenity and irrigation systems using Mastenbroek trenchers PONDS, LAKES & RESERVOIRS construction and maintenance

CWP fenci f n ng


GROUNDWORKS & CONSTRUCTION primary excavations, aggregate sub-base, agricultural construction and concreting


Tel: 07985298221 www.cwpfencing.co.uk


ENVIRONMENTAL HABITATS water course maintenance and improvement works

For all enquiries call 01233 860404 07770 867625 (Harvey) or 07768 115849 (Dave)


CLASSIFIEDS FROM £65 To advertise in South East Farmer telephone 01303 233883 TO ADVERTISE CALL 01303 233883

Manufacturers of centrifugal, low volume and portable fans, air tunnels, drive over floors, grain stirrers and gas burners

PELLCROFT www.pellcroft.com | sales@pellcroft.com | 01526 342466 WWW.SOUTHEASTFARMER.NET | NOVEMBER 2020



FARM LOANS 3 months - 25 years £10,000 - £5,000,000 Specialist help for Financial Problem cases



INDUSTRIAL DOOR SERVICES Sectional doors • Roller Shutter doors • High speed doors Loading bay equipment • Personnel and Fire doors

Loans for any purpose, renovation & repairs, development, new equipment, expansion, financial settlement etc. We can lend against property - Farms, Farm Buildings, Equestrian Buildings, Bare Land & Buy-to-Lets

If it can be done - we can help!

✆ 0800 280 06 05 Brilliant Finance Ltd To advertise in South East Farmer telephone 01303 233883

Culnells Farm, School Lane, Iwade, Sittingbourne, Kent ME9 8QJ Fax: 01634 360955 Mobile: 07973 299664 Email: sales@yiannisdoors.co.uk

Tel: 01634 378523






SALES, SERVICE & HIRE OUT of Pressure Washers, Vacuums, Scrubber Dryers, Sweepers & Dry Steamers from the leading manufacturers! Fully Stocked mobile engineers with full manufacturer training. Over 45 YEARS in trading!

• Toilets & Showers for hire

TEL:01293 554750 TEL:01293

• Large range of Temporary canteens, stores & welfare units


• Effluent Tank Emptying


• Events also catered for with marquees & toilets



Tel: 01622 843135 Fax: 01622 844410

STORAGE TANKS Horizontal Cylindrical Tanks

enquiries@fourjays.co.uk www.fourjays.co.uk

From 54,500 litres to 27,250 litres (12,000 - 6,000 gallon) Single and twin compartments, with cradles

HAULIERS 07860 728204 Hay & Straw Merchant | Machinery Haulage

Bunded Tanks From 27,000 litres to 10,000 litres (6,000 - 2,000 gallon) With cabinet, guage and alarm All suitable for fuel, water and effluent Call today for details

Tel 01638 712328



of the Forest of Dean Ltd.

The Tank and Drum Experts


Find us on Facebook 

To advertise in South East Farmer telephone 01303 233883

Buy from stock. Visit us to collect or same day dispatch with nationwide delivery. New and recycled IBC Tanks. Plastic and Steel Drums. Water Tanks, IBCs & Fittings. ®


VisitVisit www.smdd.co.uk www.smdd.co.uk

Or telephone on 01594 833308 for more information.

Or telephone on 01594 833308 for more information.



COMPLETE OUR CROSSWORD TO WIN Two bottles of Monks Delight, two bottles of Special Mead and one bottle of Special Reserve










1 5 8 9 11 12 14 16 18 20 23 25

Person in a play (9) ----- of Scilly (5) Vehicle with two wheels (slang) (8) Edible stomach lining (5) Wetland grass (4) Diving duck (7) Plant renowned for its exotic flowers (4,2,8) Small appliance for heating bread (7) Fortified wine (6) Not made by humans (7) Wind instrument (4) Village in Essex between Brentwood and West Horn (9) 26 First day on a calendar (3,4) 27 Written record of ideas (4)

9 10


12 13 14






19 24





7 10 13 14 15 17 18 19 21 22 23 24




Crossword by Rebecca Farmer, Broadstairs, Kent

PRIZE ANAGRAM: Skin parasite (9,7)

To enter, simply unscramble the anagram (9,7) using the green squares. Email your replies with your name, address and phone number to

1 2 3 4 6

Edible flower bud (5) Passage between rows (5) Eurovision winning band (4) Point at which a plane leaves the ground (4,3) A strip of food torn, cut or scraped from the whole (5) Specialists (7) Threadlike strands growing from skin (4) Alter (4) Cover crop (9) Peak (4) Male progeny (3) A small rigid plate that grows out of skin (5) Bone (3) Irritate (5) Heat storage stove and cooker (3) Eg heart, liver, kidney etc (5) Music genre (6) LAST MONTH’S ANSWERS: 1



For a winter warmer we are offering

of Monks Delight, two bottles of Special Mead and one bottle of Special

Correct entries will be entered into a

the vineyards, please visit

be announced in the December edition. TO ADVERTISE CALL 01303 233883



www.biddendenvineyards.com or call 01580 291726. *Subject to availability





M 11





































T 18


























R 15


















E 21





Y 26














E 12




13 14






Reserve. For more information about

3 November. The winner will


readers the chance to win two bottles

sef.ed@kelsey.co.uk draw which will take place on







C 23

















Correct answer: Egremont Russet LAST MONTH’S WINNER: Terry Wigmore from Eastbourne, Kent




The asset finance provider for the Farming & Agricultural community in the South East. At One Threadneedle we offer more than funds - we unlock possibilities and enable growth. We thrive on building a trusted and open relationship with our customers, ensuring we understand everything from the bigger picture, to the smallest level of detail. To see how we could support your business contact our Field Based specialist Sean Phelan on 07887 737 549 – email sean@onetnl.com or call the office in Tunbridge Wells

onethreadneedle.com 01892 489 489 LOCAL


21, Mount Ephraim, Tunbridge Wells, Kent, TN4 8AE •




One Threadneedle is a credit broker, not a lender. Authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (839978)

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