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Covid-19 - Willy Browne-Swinburne finds positivity

Willy Browne-Swinburne is a Northumbrian landowner, farmer and businessman. He has, for the last six years, been an Associate Director of Rural Solutions, a leading rural diversification and development specialist. He is Regional Chairman of the North East CLA, Historic Houses Northumbria, The Northumberland and Durham Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust and is a main Board Director of the Atlantic Salmon Trust. Rural Northumberland, it’s communities, heritage and environment is his passion. Here, he finds positivity in the Covid-19 situation…

 Coronavirus, as I write, is the single most printed word in the universe.

It has put things into a perspective that very few could have considered even a few weeks ago.

RSABI sheep-dog

At this worrying time for everyone, RSABI, the charity which supports people in Scottish agriculture, is gearing up to offer additional support to farming and crofting families.

These families, located throughout Scotland, are not only sharing the widespread public concern about Covid-19, they are also dealing with the long hours and stresses of lambing, calving and other spring work.

RSABI, the charity which supports people in Scottish agriculture, is reminding farmers and crofters it is very much open for business and ready to offer financial, practical and emotional support. The charity’s helpline - 0300 1114166 - continues to be fully operational and available 365 days a year, from 7am to 11pm.

In particular, the charity is urging people in the agricultural community to try harder than ever to find time to talk to each other, given the additional strains being felt at this already hectic time of year.

National Farm Retail Awards winners

The finest farm retailers in the industry were crowned winners tonight at a prestigious national award ceremony held to celebrate the very best.

Winners across seven categories were selected in the prestigious awards organized by the Farm Retail Association (FRA) which was formed in 1979.

It was a big night for one Devon business, Strawberry Fields in Lifton, which scooped two awards after impressing the judges with its stunning shopping space, impressive café, sustainability efforts and leadership from its passionate owners Laura and Adam Mounce.

The Farm Retail Awards 2020 are the only awards judged by fellow farm retailers and celebrate the best farm shops, farm cafés and restaurants, farmers’ markets and trade suppliers in the country.

Female farming working on farm diversification project

Spreading risk through diversification is giving many farmers new opportunities, and with recent results from a Defra farm business survey, showing total income from diversified activities in 2018/19 was £740 million, a 6 percent increase from 2017/18, it’s clear it’s becoming a consideration for most farm businesses. 

Despite this, advice from professionals is not to rush into diversifying, and consider ‘passive’ options first, which don’t require too much time spent on them, such as renting buildings or renewables.

Sheep in a field - rural business show

With 48% of farmers planning to set up or expand diversification enterprises, add to this the government’s strategy to phase out direct payments, to be replaced by a system based heavily on environmental support, Energy and Rural Business Show comes at a key time for farmers looking to diversify their income with sustainable projects.
Taking place for the first time at the East of England Arena, Peterborough, on 3 and 4 March, and celebrating 11 years of success in 2020, the event is pitched as the ‘One stop shop for farmers looking to maximise their assets with low-emission, renewable and sustainable solutions.’
According to a recent report form NFU Mutual, 56% of farms have already diversified and in 2018/19 there has been a 6% rise of total income from diversified activities, which amounts to £740M. 

Money from farm payment schemes

The Rural Payments Agency (RPA) has now paid almost 99% of eligible farmers under the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS).
The latest figures from the RPA show that BPS payments worth £1.76 billion were made to farmers by 29 February. This is an improved position on last year, with 1.4% more customers paid by the end of February 2020 compared with the end of February 2019.
By 29 February, over £150 million was paid out to farmers who do important environmental work through Countryside Stewardship (CS) and Environmental Stewardship (ES), such as restoring wildlife habitats and creating woodlands – more than two and a half times the value in the previous year.

Sheep in field - RSABI Highlights Need for Vigilance During Spring Period

As the busy period of spring work approaches, RSABI, the charity which supports people in Scottish agriculture, is urging farmers and others to be vigilant for signs of stress.

With the main lambing and calving season just around the corner, the charity is highlighting the importance of an open discussion about mental wellbeing.

According to Mags Granger, RSABI Welfare Manager, there are a number of signs to look out for, in others and ourselves, which could be indicators that all is not right.

“It is important that we are vigilant all year round for any indications that something may be wrong – with ourselves or with a friend, relative or neighbour,” said Mrs Granger.

workers in the British farming sector

The Government will quadruple the number of workers farms can recruit on a temporary basis from outside the EU this year to take up seasonal work.
Environment Secretary George Eustice confirmed today [19 February] the expansion of the Seasonal Workers Pilot to allow farmers to hire up to 10,000 workers in 2020 – an increase from the previous 2,500 workers.
This will support the UK’s vital horticulture sector and give fruit and vegetable growers access to a much bigger pool of workers this year to help pick and gather even more Great British produce.

Farm land - Powering the future of farming!

Powering the future of farming - Meeting tomorrow’s demands through precision agriculture

In times past, farmers were at the mercy of the elements to determine a successful yield of crops. As the global population grows and consumer preferences evolve, today’s modern farmer must also consider the scarcity of natural resources, the threat of climate change and the growing problem of food waste. Here, Tatjana Milenovic, group vice president, food and beverage at ABB, explores the rise of the smart farm and the electrical considerations that accompany bringing farming into the digital age.

The oldest human industry has undergone a transformation like no other. The 1800s saw the use of chemical fertilizers, while farmers began to plan their work using satellites in the late 1900s. Today, the world needs to produce more food against a background of climate change, which is adversely affecting crop yields and encouraging crop diseases. So, how can we produce 70 per cent more food to meet the needs of a growing population, while significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions? Smart farming offers a solution. 

Tatjana speaks to Farm Diversity about the rise of vertical farming

With over 7,800 high-rise buildings, the city of Hong Kong soars above all others. More than 300 of its buildings surpass 490 feet, with more people living over 15 floors above ground level than anywhere else in the world. Having a skyline in the clouds helps the densely populated metropolis to prosper where space is restricted. Agriculture has taken note of this construction technique, as vertical farming creates impressive yields.

Tatjana Milenovic, group vice president, food and beverage at ABB, explains how.

Vertical farming is the process of food being produced in vertically stacked layers, instead of on a single level such as in a field or greenhouse. The layers are commonly integrated into urban structures like skyscrapers, shipping containers and repurposed warehouses.