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Warwickshire Rural Hub

Recent Developments

Download the Guide to Cross Compliance in England 2019

The new guide to Cross Compliance rules in England for 2019 can be downloaded here.

There are no confirmed policy changes to the rules for 2019.  However, please be aware that for SMR 1 Nitrate Vulnerable Zones (NVZs) land that was in an NVZ for the first time in 2017, transitional arrangements have been in place to not meet some of the NVZ rules. These arrangements come to an end in July 2019, when the requirement to meet all the NVZ rules starts on 31 July 2019. For more information read SMR 1: Nitrate Vulnerable Zones on page 39 of the guide.

Respond to consultation on UK Shortage Occupation List

The Government has launched an important consultation on which roles could and should be on the UK Shortage Occupation List (SOL). The SOL comprises of occupations and job titles held to be in shortage across the UK where it would be sensible to fill through non-EEA migration. Job titles on the SOL are not required to undertake the Resident Labour Market Test.  For the first time, ‘lower skilled’ roles may also be considered.  The consultation closes on 6 January 2019, and you can respond via this link.  

Source a local fresh turkey with the help of the NFU

Source a local, fresh turkey direct from the producer by using the NFU Turkey Finder.  Just type in your postcode and find a local farmer from a list of more than 250 NFU members across England and Wales.

FC launches improved land information search tool

Forestry Commission has launched a new map browser with an improved Land Information Search.This new FC map browser (for use by customers in England) has improved functionality and accessibility and a new Land Information Search tool.  The new services are accessed on GOV.UK   The map browser allows you to view data layers published by the Forestry Commission. You can see how they interact with the area of land you have an interest in, and can identify various agreements for forestry and woodland management activity that has been approved.

Volunteers required to test new food and farming website

Would you like to form part of a testing group for a new website all about British food and farming?

The National Farmers Union is looking for a group of volunteers to help test a new public facing website that will be launched in January 2019. You don’t need to be an IT guru to volunteer, all levels of IT knowledge are welcome. All you’ll need to do is navigate around the website and provide feedback on the user experience The session will take place at the NFU’s building on the park between 10am and 2pm on Friday 21 December.  Lunch and refreshments will be provided.

If you would like to take part please contact Victoria Sanderson at the NFU on

Method of ageing lambs to change

In a move that could potentially save producers and the supply chain an estimated £24 million Defra has confirmed plans to use a fixed cut-off date of 30 June to age lambs instead of checking teeth.  The new cut-off date will be implemented by June 2019. The new process of ageing lambs will provide a much simpler and more accurate way to determine whether a lamb is over 12 months old and whether the carcass needs to be split to remove the spinal cord.

Read the draft agreement on our withdrawal from the EU

The 585 page draft agreement on the UK’s withdrawal from the EU is available on the website.

Defra recruits 2,000 additional staff to work on Brexit

Defra secretary Michael Gove has confirmed that Defra has recruited more than 2,000 staff to work on our exit from the EU.  These include fixed-term appointments, interims and staff redeployment.    More than 400 posts of the additional posts have been filled from across the Defra group – the majority coming from Natural England, the Rural Payments Agency, the Environment Agency and the Animal Plant and Health Agency.

Making Tax Digital starts on 1 April 2019

With effect from 1 April 2019, if your taxable turnover is above the VAT registration threshold you must follow the Making Tax Digital rules.  Full information is available here.

Try a free app for scanning medicines

Herdwatch has built a smart Barcode scanner into their Herdwatch app that allows farmers to simply scan their farm medicines into the app using the camera on their smartphone.   The Herdwatch app can recognise each Barcode and will identify the medicine it is corresponding VMD (UK) number. If there is a QR code available, the app will also be able to automatically pull in the Batch-number and Expiry date.  The app will remember the Withdrawal-Period’s which means that, you only need to enter that information into app once.  As each medicine is scanned into the app the quantity purchased is also recorded, allowing the farmer to see how much medicine they have in their cabinet at any time.  Farmers can then see where that medicine was used, what animals were treated with it and it and how much they received.

To download the app please visit this page.

Summary of main points for businesses and the environment from the October 2018 budget

The personal allowance threshold to rise from £11,850 to £12,500 in April 2019

The higher rate income tax threshold, the point at which people start paying tax at 40%, to rise from £46,350 to £50,000 in April 2019

National Living Wage increasing by 4.9%, from £7.83 to £8.21 an hour, from April 2019.

Annual investment allowance to be increased from £200,000 to £1m for two years

Contribution of small companies to apprenticeship levy to be reduced from 10% to 5%

Business rates bill for firms with a rateable value of £51,000 or less to be cut by third over two years

£900m in business rates relief for small businesses and £650m to rejuvenate High Streets

Extending changes to the way self-employment status is taxed, from the public sector to medium and large private companies, from 2020

A new tax on plastic packaging which does not contain 30% recyclable material

£60m for planting trees in England

£10m to deal with abandoned waste sites

£200m investment in piloting new solutions to deploy full fibre internet in rural locations

AHDB Beef and Lamb groups seek new members

Recruitment has started for the next two groups of forward-thinking English beef and lamb farmers to be part of AHDB Beef & Lamb’s progressive groups. The two groups will meet twice a year over a three-year period with the aim to develop members’ technical and business skills with the support of industry experts. The closing date for applications is 31 December 2018. To download an application form please visit this page.

Keep up-to-date with how to prepare for Brexit

Defra has posted information on how to prepare in the unlikely event of a no-deal EU exit.  Keep up to date by visiting this page.

NFU Graduate Schemes are open for applications

The NFU offers two graduate programmes; the first in Agricultural Policy and the second in Public Affairs and Communications.  Both provide a range of placements that will challenge and develop skill sets and will allow the placement to learn by taking an active role, working alongside industry specialists.  Closing date for applications is 13 January 2019.  For a copy of the job descriptions visit this page.

Have your say on online waste exemption registration

The Environment Agency and Defra are looking to consult with farmers, farm managers and agronomists who use the waste exemptions service on the website to understand how they might like the renewal process to work.  EA and Defra are working on improvements to the way waste exemptions are registered online to make the process faster and more efficient.  The consultation process will involve telephone feedback and potentially taking part in a webinar to trial run the system.  To take part in the survey please contact Emi Carmichael at Defra.

Catchment Sensitive Farming partnership launch new air quality programme

The partnership between Defra, the Environment Agency and Natural England has launched a new £3 million programme to reduce air pollution from farming.  The programme will support farmers to take action to reduce harmful ammonia emissions and is in addition to the existing Catchment Sensitive Farming programme of advice to improve water quality and prevent flooding from farmed land.  The money will fund a team of specialists who will work with farmers and landowners in priority areas to implement the measures to reduce their ammonia emissions. The team will provide training events, tailored advice, individual farm visits and support with grant applications.  For further information please visit this page.

New smartphone app to monitor crops with drone

A new smartphone app offering farmers a cheaper and easier way to monitor their crops with a drone is due to be launched.  The Skippy Scout app will fly the drone and collect high-resolution images at various points in a field. The images are then downloaded to the phone ready to be analysed for crop growth stage, green area index, the presence of weeds and disease.  The Skippy Scout app will be free during its launch and testing phases, during November 2018. Farmers can sign up for early access at the Drone Ag website.

Updated advice on managing ash die-back

To support their customers in the management of ash in woodlands (in light of ash dieback) the Forestry Commission has published new guidance – Responding to ash dieback operations note 46 which provides practical advice to those with responsibility for the management of ash in woodlands in England.  The FC has also produced a YouTube video – Updated guidance for managing woodland with ash dieback describing how to maintain the benefits of woodland whilst managing the impact of the disease using the updated guidance.

Defra announces help for drought-hit farmers in Stewardship schemes

Defra has announced 40 temporary prescription adjustments (TPA) to help drought-hit farmers in stewardship schemes provide extra fodder, bedding or grazing for their stock.  The changes apply to certain prescriptions in Countryside Stewardship and Environmental Stewardship schemes.  Full details are available on the Government website.

Digital tracking scheme to be operational by 2019

Defra Secretary of State Michael Gove has announced that a digital tracking scheme for livestock will be operational by 2019. The Livestock Information Service will combine an animal’s lifetime movement records with management, veterinary medicine and assurance information. The aim is to provide valuable new details through the supply chain and proof of standards to shoppers and trading partners.

New opportunity for farmers – Arden Farm Wildlife Network

Are you a farmer in the Arden area of Warwickshire interested in:
• Getting support to help you with managing the options in your environmental schemes.
• Keeping up to date with the changes in environmental support and different channels of funding available.
• Improving your farm for wildlife with low cost methods – that can benefit your business too.
• Finding more about what wildlife you have got on your farm?

The Arden Farm Wildlife Network could help you!

If you would like further details then please give Zoe Bell a call or drop her an email.

Contact: Zoe Bell
Telephone: 07980 771872
Email Address:
Website: Open Website

New scheme to encourage investment in superfast broadband

A new scheme for small to medium sized businesses is being piloted in the Warwickshire area to encourage commercial investment in superfast fibre broadband.
The Government’s Local Full Fibre Networks Programme aims to support projects across the UK that will stimulate more commercial investment in full fibre, the “gold standard” of fast and reliable broadband. Coventry and Warwickshire is one of the test regions for the scheme. The programme will see local companies will be offered vouchers (worth between £500 and £3000 each) by broadband suppliers to pay for gigabit capable connections.
More information is available on the website below.

Website: Open Website

NFU Mutual launch new insurance for Smallholders

Smallholdings are an essential piece of the patchwork that makes up our great countryside and are vital to the wellbeing of the farming scene. As the leading rural insurer, NFU Mutual has launched a new insurance that insures smallholders managing small flocks or herds, right through to individuals and families who are keen to get involved in small scale farming. Visit the website to contact your local agent.

Website: Open Website

New Defra code of practice for species control

The “Species Control Provisions: Code of Practice for England” sets out how the provisions for species control agreements and orders contained in the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 should be applied by environmental authorities. These powers ensure that, in appropriate circumstances, landowners take action on invasive non-native species or permit others to enter the land and carry out those operations, to prevent their establishment and spread.
For further information please use the link below.

Website: Open Website

Get pelletwise

The Metaldehyde Stewardship Group has produce “A guide to Integrated Pest Management (IPM) and slug control”.
To view the guide use the link below.

Website: Open Website

Renewable Transport Fuels Obligation

The Department for Transport has proposed the crop cap be set at 4% in 2018, decreasing incrementally until it reaches 2% by 2032. The NFU is calling for the cap, which governs the volume of crop-based biofuels allowed to be used on UK roads, to be set at the maximum possible level of 7%. Many other EU member states have opted for 7% – as per set out in the EU directive, leaving UK arable farmers at a competitive disadvantage.

Parish council help required for broadband rollout

CSW Broadband are looking to work even more closely with parish councils. What they would like to know now is what would parish councils find most helpful to assist you in informing your residents about the broadband rollout and answering their questions?
Please drop an email to, and the team will develop a plan that incorporates as many of your suggestions as possible.

Marketing for plant based substances

The EU Court of Justice has confirmed a ban on products of a ‘purely plant-based substance’ using the term milk, cream, butter, cheese or yoghurt in their marketing. There are some allowances, including coconut milk and ice cream, but the rule applies to all products not on the list of exceptions, such as soya and tofu.

New Red Tractor Stickers Launched

Red Tractor has teamed up with Massey Ferguson to print 15,000 trailer stickers to help farmers spread the positive message of UK Farm Assurance. The stickers bear the slogans “Great Food, Great Farming” and “Trust the Tractor”.
The stickers are free of charge to Red Tractor members.

Website: Open Website

Co-op commits to British farming

Announced last September, a promise to source fresh lamb and bacon from British only sources by the Co-op came into effect this week. This now means that the Co-op sources 100% British beef, chicken, ham, pork, duck and turkey and uses only British meat in all sausages and in its own-label chilled ready meals, pies and sandwiches (with the exception of continental varieties in ready meals and sandwiches). This bold move places farming right at the centre of their business and has been widely congratulated by the industry

A new platform for smart farming

The Horizon 2020 thematic network smart AKIS has recently launched a free online platform providing a number of tools to facilitate and promote the use of smart farming technologies.
The platform is intended for farmers, advisory services, agriculture consultants, and farming equipment providers. It includes a database of the latest technologies already available on the market or emerging from research projects. Additionally, it provides guidance, advice and a space for exchange on the use these new technologies.

Website: Open Website

Open Water – chose your water supplier

From 1 April 2017, farms and other eligible business customers in England will be able to choose their supplier of water and waste water retail services.
Businesses which are eligible to switch supplier can choose to shop around and switch to a new retail service provider for water and wastewater services; negotiate a new price and service package with their existing retailer, or a new retailer; or stay with their current retail service provider, accepting default price and service terms.

Contact: None
Telephone: None
Email Address: None
Website: Open Website

Call for vigilance for Sweet Chestnut Blight

The Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) are reminding woodland managers, tree professionals and the plant trade to be vigilant over the coming months for sweet chestnut blight, caused by the fungus Cryphonectria parasitica.  Suspected cases in trees and woodland should be reported to the Commission with Tree Alert. Suspected cases in chestnut plants moving in trade, such as in garden centres and nurseries, must be reported to APHA’s Plant Health & Seeds Inspectorate (PHSI) on 01904 405138 or

Telephone: 01904 405138

New website about plant pests

A new website to improve access to information about plant pests and diseases has been launched by Defra.
The Plant Health Portal is already making it easier for plant health professionals to share and use vital information on plant pests and diseases, unlocking the power of data to better assess threats and determine action to tackle them.
The site is still under development, and has been launched in ‘beta’ form to enable users to give feedback to inform further improvements. There are plans to add more data and introduce further refinements to the site’s search functions during this second phase. Users are encouraged to send feedback on the site to Defra.

Website: Open Website

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Donate to the Hub?

A donation to the Hub of any amount is always gratefully received. However, it is only donations of over £100 that can be acknowledged on the Hub website as a Champion.  A donation can be given to the Hub by cheque, bank payment, standing order or by the Paypal Link Below.

Contact Us

The Warwickshire Rural Hub CIC
c/o Pleasance Farm


Registration No: 7026157

Registered office: 23 West Bar Street, Banbury, OX16 9SA

Hub Chairman

Henry Lucas

Rural Hub Co-ordinator

Jane Hampson

Tel: 07780 159291

Warwickshire Rural Hub CIC Directors

Henry Lucas (Hub Chairman)
Graham Collier (Hub Deputy Chairman)
Paul Rice
Carrie Robbins
Alexandra Robinson
James Walton


Hub Steering Group Members

Luke Ryder, NFU
Mark Dickin, Ellacotts Accountants
Susan Schlee, S2M Marketing
Tom Newbery, Highfield Farm
Mark Meadows, Tithe Farm
Alexandra Robinson, Wright Hassall LLP
Bob Slater, Slater Farm Management Services
Chris Tallis, Tallis Amos Group
Jef Tuyn, Agricultural Consultant
Matt Willmott, King's Seeds
Jon Slee, Abbey Farm


The Warwickshire Rural Hub accepts no liability for any direct, indirect or consequential loss arising from any action taken in reliance on the information contained on this website.

© 2018 Warwickshire Rural Hub. All rights reserved.