Warwickshire Rural Hub
Highlights from the Autumn 2023 statement
The headlines from the Chancellor’s Autumn 2023 statement include:
Class 2 National Insurance contributions (NICs) will be abolished and the main rate of Class 4 NICs will reduce from 9% to 8% from 6 April 2024.
Full Expensing for companies will be made permanent.
The R&D Expenditure Credit (RDEC) and SME schemes will be merged into a single scheme from 1 April 2024.
The qualifying period for Investment Zone and Freeport benefits will be doubled from five to ten years.
The main rate of Class 1 employee NICs will reduce from 12% to 10% from 6 January 2024
Read more in this update from Ellacotts.
Hear whether battery storage is worth considering and the questions to ask
Energy Now has organised a webinar on 29 November at 5.00pm entitled: Going beyond simple solar: how to optimise renewable energy on your farm. Jack Peck, Business Development Manager at Wattstor and David Stevenson owner and Managing Director of Mole Energy will aim to dispel a few myths and set out a clear route forward for the next phase of renewable energy in agriculture: battery energy storage. Together they will cover the following points:
• Retrofitting batteries to farms with existing solar & wind installations
• Expanding your solar installation in the post FIT era
• How to determine if your land / farm can benefit from battery storage
• What is load shifting and why is it key to maximising returns from solar?
• DC battery solutions – when grid constraints become a limiting factor
Register for the webinar on this link.
All the guidance on de-linked payments
The Rural Payments Agency is replacing the BPS in England with delinked payments from 2024. The RPA will pay delinked payments annually between 2024 to 2027 and the amount paid will decrease each year, with 2027 being the final year of delinked payments. To receive delinked payments, you must be eligible for BPS payments in 2023 (with some exceptions on inherited land) and have a reference amount. The reference amount will normally be the average BPS payment in the reference period, which is the BPS 2020 to 2022 scheme years. If you did claim in 2023, but did not claim BPS in the reference period, you will only have a reference amount if BPS reference data has been transferred to you.
The RPA has started writing to farmers about the transition from BPS payments to de-linked payments. To read all the guidance on how de-linked payments are calculated, how they affect different types of businesses and how they are treated for tax purposes. please visit this page.
Sign up for flood alerts with the Environment Agency
The Environment Agency is urging people to check their risk of flooding and sign up for free flood alerts and warnings. The service will tell you:
- current flood warnings or alerts
- river, sea, groundwater and rainfall levels
- your flood risk in the next 5 days
If you want to know if there’s surface water flooding (also known as ‘flash flooding’) in your area you will need to contact your local council. Visit this page to learn more.
Electricity System Operator Demand Flexibility Service is set to return this winter
Ofgem has approved the return of the Demand Flexibility Service (DFS) – a tool that helped ensure security of supply last winter and saw over 1.6 million homes and businesses rewarded for adjusting their non-essential energy demand. The DFS is expected to launch in early November and works by paying members for turning down their electricity use during times of peak demand on the electricity system. There will be several test events so that customers can be sure they will have a chance to participate and earn rewards of up to £3 per kilowatt hour, depending on provider offerings.
Participants need to have a smart meter installed and must also check that their supplier is taking part in the scheme. Read more here.
Save 35% on GWCT farmer membership
Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust is offering farmers a 35% discount on its membership fee, reducing the subscription to £51 annually or £4.25 monthly. Benefits include:
Access to dozens of informative wildlife and land management courses as well as important educational material and legislation updates
Invites to a variety of exciting events taking place throughout the year
The chance to visit our pioneering Allerton Project Farm at Loddington for a guided tour
Free copies of Gamewise, our feature-packed magazine produced 3 times a year
Regular email updates containing all our latest news and research findings
You can join your local County Group and get directly involved
Optional daily email news alerts containing all the latest conservation news
Visit this page to read more and sign up.
How to count earthworms
Earthworms engineer the soil environment, help with carbon cycling, improve water infiltration and plant productivity, and are an important food source for native birds. They are also a biological indicator of soil health. The best time to count earthworm populations is early in the spring, or after the soil has wetted up in the autumn. Counting earthworms when it is warm and after rain often provides the best population estimates. Avoid taking samples when the soil is very dry. Soil should have been wet for a few days prior to sampling. When assessing earthworm numbers, it is important to take more than one sample from within each field; 10 samples per field is ideal. Comparisons between cultivated parts of the field and margins can be useful. Visit this page on the AHDB website for instructions on how to count your earthworms.
Herdwatch teams up with Rugby Farmers’ Mart for exciting new feature
The Herdwatch app has teamed up with Rugby Farmers Mart to allow vendors to add animals for sale directly to the market catalogue and view upcoming catalogues for sales – all for free with a Herdwatch account. Animal details pull through directly from an account, so all you need to do is select the ones you want to sell & add photos and videos. The Herdwatch Platform will allow vendors to select, and pre-air the details of stock they have to market in advance of the sale date. Information such as age, TB status and medications can allow buyers to travel to purchase stock with full disclosure. For further information please visit this page.
AHDB proposes to increase levy rates
Defra set up a new single page for the Sustainable Farming Incentive
A new landing page on the Defra website has been created for farmers who are thinking of or will be applying to the Sustainable Farming Incentive. The page lets you register your interest in SFI, sets out why farmers should apply for an agreement, lists the 23 actions you can apply for, gives feedback from farmers and signposts farmers to other grant funding available. Visit the page on this link.
Most farmers are no longer required to register their interest in the scheme and can now apply directly. All farmers who have a live 2023 agreement before the end of the year will receive an early payment. This is worth 25% of the value of their annual agreement and will be received in the first month of the agreement.
Advice from the NFU on buying and selling second-hand farming kit
Sales of second hand farming equipment are booming. But when you buy machinery whether new or second hand, you are entering into a contract with the seller – even if the agreement is verbal. And when selling your equipment, it’s important to understand whether you are doing so in the course of your business or as a private individual, as different rights and responsibilities apply. You could be liable for problems that come to light after the sale. The NFU legal and farm safety teams have written an article which gives advice on what the law states and some top tips on buying and selling farming kit. Read the article on this link.
Put down Roots: discover how tree planting can benefit your farming business
Woodlands absorb harmful gases, improving air quality for you and your local community. They act as a natural ‘carbon sink’ by removing and storing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, helping tackle climate change. By making smaller woodlands bigger or connecting existing woodlands with one another you can help connect habitats and encourage wildlife corridors, boosting nature recovery. Plant trees on your land and you could go on to generate additional income through activities such as harvesting trees for timber, producing wood for fuel and other wood products, selling carbon units, and designing woodland for recreation and leisure use.
The England Woodland Creation Offer (EWCO) is a national flagship grant scheme administered by the Forestry Commission which encourages investment in the creation and long-term management of woodland on areas as small as one hectare. EWCO covers standard capital costs up to £10,200 per hectare, with stackable payments of up to £8,000 per hectare for tree planting projects that support wider benefits to society, nature recovery, and the environment. Visit this page for full information.
Kenilworth Show to take a break in 2024 due to loss of site
The Directors of the Kenilworth and District Agricultural Society have regretfully announced that they are unable to organise a Kenilworth Show in 2024. This decision has come about following the loss of their current show site. The Show Director has worked tirelessly to find a new site but has been unable to secure a suitable plot of grassland with road access, multiple entrances and parking. However, the Society does intend to host a number of smaller focused events throughout the year and further details will be announced in due course. In the meantime, the Show Director with the support of the Kenilworth Show committee, will endeavour to find a suitable location for the Kenilworth Show to be reinstated, all being well, in 2025.
Would you like to chat to the Show Secretary about the requirements of a suitable show site? Contact the Society on firstname.lastname@example.org
NFU Energy launch new energy price comparison tool
NFU Energy, one of the Rural Hub’s business supporters, has launched an energy price comparison website. This tool will enable businesses to easily compare energy prices and switch to suppliers offering more favourable deals tailored to their needs by simplifying the process of comparing and switching energy suppliers. Businesses can input their energy consumption details and preferences, such as contract length and trading type, before viewing a comprehensive list of energy suppliers’ tailored offers. NFU Energy has established strong partnerships with a wide network of energy suppliers enabling businesses to benefit from exclusive rates and favourable contract terms that may not be available through other channels. By using the tool, businesses can potentially unlock significant savings on their energy bills, as well as saving valuable time and effort.
View the new online comparison tool on this page.
Farm of the Future – An Action Guide is published
Farm of the Future has been produced by Innovation for Agriculture on behalf of the Royal Agricultural Society of England, with funding from the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation. It is intended as a useful starting point laying out the options available for decarbonising farm businesses. Agriculture is the only industry able to sequester the carbon it emits, plus emissions from other industries too. This puts farmers in a unique position, as decisions on how land is farmed can have a hugely positive impact on the environment, but the actions taken on farms must also make sense from a business perspective. This new guide summarises practical actions farm businesses can take to reduce emissions and sequester carbon. The actions are grouped into three sections: actions that can be taken immediately, those that require some planning and long-term options to consider.
Get tips on renewables and low carbon energy from the Energy Now website
Energy Now is the renewable and low carbon energy website for the agricultural and rural communities. Sign up for free membership and receive
- Access to all content on the site
- Regular updates on the most important renewable energy / low carbon news and advice, relating specifically to the agricultural and rural communities, delivered straight to your inbox.
- A VIP pass to the annual Low Carbon Agriculture Show
- Admission to dedicated webinars
Get tips on reducing your input costs from the PCF Great Grazing Guide
The Prince’s Countryside Fund has produced The Great Grazing Guide in response to requests from farmers participating in their resilience programmes, who expressed real concerns at the huge increase in their input costs. Not only will the ideas contained in this guide help save money, but they will also enable farmers to work with nature on their farm by focusing on the importance of healthy soil. Written by pasture experts Precision Grazing, The Great Grazing Guide looks at a range of techniques and methods, including those from regenerative and grazing management techniques. To read a copy online visit this page.
RPA moves towards partnership approach for visits
The Rural Payments Agency has introduced a more supportive, partnership-based approach to inspections, moving away from the penalty-based system under the EU, to farmer-focused visits for schemes such as the Sustainable Farming Incentive and Countryside Stewardship. To reflect this change, inspections are now referred to as visits. Inspectors are now referred to as Field Officers and the Inspectorate is known as the Regulatory and Advice Service. As part of this supportive approach, a new visit record checklist has been introduced which will help inform farmers of their responsibilities.
Break free from environmental jargon with the Prince’s Countryside Fund glossary of terms
Speaking at the Farmers Weekly awards at the start of 2021 HRH The Prince of Wales, set a challenge – to explain terms and practices linked to the environment in straightforward language. So, the Prince’s Countryside Fund has created A-Zero: A farmer’s guide to breaking free from environmental jargon. The booklet is aimed at farmers and hopes to ensure that the ambitions around improving the management of the UK’s environment are accessible to all. Visit this page to download the booklet.
AHDB machinery costing calculator
Calculate the cost of farm machinery, per hectare or per hour, with a simple calculator available for download on the AHDB website. The tool can also be used to compare the costs of owning equipment with the cost of hiring it or getting in a contractor. Different machinery systems can also be compared and repair costs can be calculated for budgeting purposes.
Measure your farm performance with the AHDB KPI Express
Understanding how your farm business is performing is critical. It’s fundamental to making decisions on how to improve performance. It helps you know where you are now, supports setting future targets and seeing how actual performance measures up against these targets. A new tool from AHDB provides a core set of Key Performance Indicators to use as the starting point to understand how your farm business is performing. Visit this page to use the KPI Express tool.
Agricultural transition – watch a PCF webinar on getting ready for change
Prince’s Countryside Fund and McDonald’s hosted a webinar on 9 March 2021 which covered what’s happening in England under Defra’s Agricultural Transition Plan, what this means in practical terms for farmers and simple next steps that farm businesses can take to prepare themselves. The webinar was delivered by Kite Consultants who also answered questions on the agricultural transition from farm businesses. McDonald’s and PCF hosted this webinar as part of their Ready for Change programme. Aimed at farmers who’ve participated in The Prince’s Farm Resilience Programme, Ready for Change equips farm businesses with the tools to adapt their activities and make sensible, informed decisions about their businesses. Since September 2020, 37 farm businesses have taken part in the workshop. You can watch a recording of the webinar on this page.
Forces Farming – helping ex-forces personnel to find a new career in agriculture
Retired forces personnel can often have many skills which are very transferable to farming – and they are also used to working outdoors in all weathers! Their forces training means that veterans will also be punctual, thrive on routine, be safety conscious and be used to physical work. If you are a farming business which would be interested in hosting an insight day, offering some work experience or even a longer placement to a forces veteran please visit the Forces Farming website for information on how to register your interest.
Recycle your farm plastic with the Green Tractor scheme
Green Tractor’s aim is to provide UK agriculture with the ability to recycle all farm plastic by 2030. They operate on a not-for-profit basis. The Green Tractor Scheme provides sustainable solutions for plastic used across all sectors of agriculture in the UK. The scheme is primarily focused on the collection and processing of waste farm plastic. Although agricultural plastics only represent 3% of the total plastics used in the UK, it is important that this high-profile sector continues to improve producer responsibility. The Green Tractor Scheme covers the significant majority of the UK’s collectors and provides shared responsibility for farm plastic across the entire supply chain. The first plastic recycling survey shows that 19,974 tonnes of plastic was collected in 2018 and 24,149 tonnes was collected in 2019. Most of the plastic was sent for recycling with only 4% going to landfill. To find out how to join the scheme please visit the Green Tractor website.
New bank Oxbury is launched which puts farmers first
Working towards net zero emissions for beef farmers
Farming for a Better Climate has produced some practical guides on how farmers can reduce carbon emissions from beef production. Visit this page to read the guides.
Nature Friendly Farming Network publish a guide to net zero carbon in farming
Net zero carbon refers to achieving an overall balance between emissions produced and emissions taken out of the atmosphere. Achieving net zero is required to meet the Paris Agreement, which aims to keep global temperatures below a 1.5°C rise above pre-industrial levels. To achieve the scale of change needed, action must be taken now to reduce emissions and lay the foundations for the longer-term transformation required. In order to help farmers achieve net zero targets Nature Friendly Farming Network has created a practical guide for farmers.
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Tel: 07780 159291
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Registered office: 23 West Bar Street, Banbury, OX16 9SA
Warwickshire Rural Hub CIC Directors
Karen Ellis (Chair)
Marion Perrett Pearson
Environmental Steering Group Members
Zoe Bell (Chair)
Meehal Grint, Kings Seeds
Tom Newbery, Highfield Farm
Louis Phipps, Bragborough Estate
Zoe Burrows, Rookery Farm
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