NPS mentioned in Home Farmer this month

There was a nice mention of the North Pennines Smallholders group in this months Home Farmer magazine as part of a bigger 3 page spread on UK smallholder groups and events.

For those who don’t subscribe to Home Farmer you can read more by downloading the relevant pages using the link shown below. Of course, you could subscribe as well because it’s only £40 per year!

Smallholder round-up from Home Farmer April 2016

An update on ‘Grandfather rights’ and professional pesticide use

With the rules about the application of pesticides changing recently, many people may not be completely clear about the implications so here is the latest information from the Farming Advice Service:

Under the previous UK legislation governing pesticide use, people born before 31 December 1964 who used an agricultural product on their own or their employer’s land were exempt from the requirement to hold a certificate of competence (this exemption was known as ‘grandfather rights’). New regulations provided for the continuation of that exemption until 25 November 2015. After this date, everyone who uses a professional pesticide product must hold a specified certificate.

The new regulations also require that, from 26 November 2015, everyone purchasing a professional pesticide product must ensure the end user holds a specified certificate.

Existing certificates of competence (for example, PA2 and PA6) will remain valid under the new legislation. Anyone who already has one of these will need to do nothing new. A list of specified certificates is available by clicking here.

It is a legal requirement to follow the rules outlined in ‘The Plant Protection Products (Sustainable Use) Regulations 2012’. You risk being prosecuted if you do not adhere to the rules.

If you do not hold a specified certificate, but require the application of professional pesticides to your land, you may employ a contractor or neighbouring farmer, but it is your responsibility to check they hold an appropriate specified certificate.

Further information on complying with the requirements has been produced by the Voluntary Initiative and can be found here.


Woodland Management course

There are still a few places left on the Woodland Management training course which is scheduled for Tues 1 Mar in Allendale. This is a FREE all day event which aims to show how to maximise the potential of existing woodland or the benefits of creating new woodland as well as an overview of the grants and assistance available.

Take a look at the calendar entry for this event to see more details and reserve your place as soon as possible.

For those who’ve already reserved a place, don’t forget the weatherproof clothing and sturdy boots/wellies!

Membership recruiter vacancy with RBST

This might suit someone with an interest in supporting rare breeds and looking for a little part-time work.

Do you like going to Agricultural shows & talking to people? You need to be a bright, enthusiastic and self-motivated individual, with an interest in farm animals, conservation and the countryside.

The Rare Breed Survival Trust (RBST) are looking for a Summer Season Membership Recruiter (Spring-Autumn) to cover the North of the UK

Viable Self-Sufficiency book – a KickStarter project

From the publishers of Home Farmer magazine comes a new book called “Viable Self-Sufficiency – The Ultimate Guide to Living off the Land” which has been written by committed long-time smallholders, Tim and Dot Tyne.

This is the most comprehensive guide to living off the land since John Seymour’s seminal book “The Complete Book of Self-Sufficiency” which was published back in 1976.

Viable Self-Sufficiency cover image

Viable Self-Sufficiency cover image

This is not from a massive publishing house and this is not just another mass produced book to be sold as cheap as chips via discount outlets or bookshop chains. It is a high quality, full colour, thoroughly researched, substantial book which will have a relatively short initial print run of just 4000 copies.

It is also being printed in the UK, by one of the very last remaining printers of hardback, colour books left in this country. Why publish a book which advocates sustainability and then have it printed half way around the globe and possibly sacrifice another part of our own UK printing industry in the process?

You can help them to make this a reality via their KickStarter project and depending on the amount you are willing to donate you can get some fantastic rewards. The more you donate the better the reward from signed copies of the book to Home Farmer magazine subscriptions and much more.

At the time of writing this the KickStarter fundraising project is already 60% of the way but that still leaves 40% to go and every little helps so please take a look!

Recommended TV programmes

I’ve not seen the full movie but if the trailers are anything to go then the slightly shorter version of Addicted to Sheep on BBC Four tonight (Mon 8 Feb) at 9pm should be a really good watch. Not least because the subject matter and locations are so close to home!

A particularly timely programme given the time of year but perhaps a good introduction to the Vets pre-lambing talk on Thurs 18 in Nenthead and it’s not too late to sign up for that. See the event page for more details.

While recommending TV programmes, an honorable mention must also go to The Mart on BBC Scotland which, if you don’t have access to BBC Scotland, can be viewed on the BBC iPlayer instead. This has so far proved to be a fascinating documentary series following the auctioneers at Thainstone Mart in Scotland through 2015

Would you like to be part of a TV documentary?

A television production company in London (Pi Productions) are looking for people who are planning to make a major relocation in order to change their lifestyle and run a business.

Ideally this would be a lifestyle or rural business, for example, a smallholding, a B&B or holiday let cottages, a country pub, or even a caravan park or cattery. An example story could feature a city based couple giving up their jobs, selling their house and moving to the countryside to run a farm. Perhaps they are tired of the rat race and want to move to the country for a better quality of life for their family.

They are particularly interested in hearing from people who are either about to relocate or are in the process of relocating, and would love to hear from aspiring smallholders. They are looking to hear from people over the next week or two so if interested contact Talitha Smith on 0203 761 4522.

Gathering input for the Defra Smallholders focus groups

There will be 2 NPS members attending the Defra Smallholders focus group next month so we would like to gather any relevant comments from other members as well. These will be collated and those attending can ensure as many of them as possible are raised during the discussions.

The following initial concerns were noted during the last committee meeting:

  • Many smallholders are unable to claim the Single Farm Payment as they have less than the 5ha minimum. This would be valuable extra income and is likely to be reinvested in the land.
  • Lack of capital grants payments for environmental improvements; the only grants available are via Stewardship schemes which require complicated agreements and generally apply to larger farms only. Would suggest a simple capital grants/environmental management scheme be available for smallholders.
  • Ear tags frequently get torn off both sheep and cattle leading to flystrike etc. We need a better system of livestock ID to avoid animal welfare issues.
  • A technical advice service of some sort would be beneficial as many smallholders are relatively new to farming.
  • Flood management measures to help alleviate flood risk downstream may well find interest amongst smallholders eg creation of woodland buffers, water features.
  • Assistance with training. We have numerous ideas for training in the North Pennines but have quickly realised this comes at a cost. Scottish smallholders appear to have access to government funding and expertise for training sessions and that could be a good model for DEFRA to follow.

If anyone has a particular topic or concern they would like to see raised then please send full details through to Walter Walker ( )