Gleanings - AF Weekly news summary
15th November 2023

SOS – new SoS at DEFRA

The announcement of Steve Barclay as new Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs – a demotion from his previous job as Health Secretary – had a mixed reaction.

The third SoS in 13 months, Mr Barclay studied history at Cambridge and then law at the College of Law in Chester. He worked as an insurance company lawyer for Axa Insurance, as a regulator for the Financial Services Authority, and as Director of Regulatory Affairs and then Head of Anti-Money Laundering and Sanctions at Barclays Retail Bank. So, not a huge amount of experience in our sector. Although he does represent a rural constituency, North East Cambridgeshire.


Ruminants relieve risk of wildfires

The Guardian reported from California on rancher Brittany ‘Cole’ Bush who operates Shepherdess Land & Livestock. This ranching business uses grazing animals to reduce risk of wildfires in southern California.

Grazing livestock reduce wildfire risk by grazing the tinder dry grasses and plants which may catch light and help flames spread. She and her team are able to place animals on sites which are not farmed, but pose significant risk because they have wide expanses of untended grassland, such as government agencies, housing developments and detention centres.

She also offers training for new entrants and first-time stock keepers, who may not have land but want to raise livestock. The shepherds are taught the art of working closely with their dogs, to protect flocks and guide them to the best grazing sites. Farmers also need to understand which plants are most palatable, and what time of year to graze the most critical areas of grassland to protect from wildfires.

Buyer beware

Farmers Weekly reported the sad case of a Herefordshire farmer duped out of £39,000 in a fraudulent machinery scam. He responded to an advert for a Claas combine in the farming press, which purported to have been posted by a reputable machinery dealer.

The advert carried a number of used machines, and so the farmer called the number and struck a deal for the combine. The seller asked for a deposit to be paid to hold the item, even though he hadn’t viewed it and that was duly transferred.

It was only when his secretary grew suspicious that alarm bells rang, especially after the seller requested final payment on delivery and for it to be sent to a different bank account.

Since then, they have been able to get hold of the seller. But, despite the excuses made, the combine had still not been delivered and the deposit has not been returned.

The purchaser farmer and the dealership whose details were stolen for the advert have now both reported the ‘seller’ to Action Fraud.


Lamentable Land Rover larceny

Farmers Guide reported  thieves are targeting Land Rover Defenders, stripping down and stealing parts, in situ in farm yards! Farmer Michael Skinner had his classic Defender stripped of parts 20 metres from where he slept.

Thieves avoided the two locked gates to his yard and gained access by cutting a wire fence. They were highly organised, went to the precise location of the vehicle, and avoided activating the security lights or even disturbing the five dogs Mr Skinner keeps. The same night they also stripped a Defender a mile away.

Police believe parts are being stolen to order. Vehicles and parts have been found as far away as continental Europe and Africa. It goes without saying, if at all possible park vehicles in locked buildings. Ensure you have adequate security lighting and CCTV covering yards and buildings, and make sure that gates and fences are secure when not in use. AF General Inputs team are ready and eager to help with all your security needs.


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