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The latest news about food, farming and the countryside

BBC Radio 4

    • Jan 5, 2022 LATEST EPISODE
    • weekdays NEW EPISODES
    • 15m AVG DURATION
    • 413 EPISODES

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    Latest episodes from Farming Today

    05/01/22 - New laws around hare coursing and the two Oxford farming conferences kick off online

    Play Episode Listen Later Jan 5, 2022 13:40

    For many years farmers have been asking for the law surrounding illegal hare-coursing to be tightened. The current legislation dates from the early 1800's and according to the police and farmers alike, is unworkable. Now, under amendments to the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, there are proposals to introduce unlimited fines, and up to 6 months imprisonment. The Oxford Real Farming Conference and Oxford Farming Conference would normally have brought hundreds of visitors to the city of dreaming spires this week, but Omicron has decided differently. Both have now been moved fully online. Glued to their screens, delegates will still be able to access a huge range of discussion and debate about the future of farming, land use and food. Our coverage of both begins.... Presented by Anna Hill Produced for BBC Audio in Bristol by Heather Simons

    04/01/22 - Mental resilience in farming, mapping trees and donkey grazing

    Play Episode Listen Later Jan 4, 2022 13:28

    "He didn't believe in depression - he thought anyone that suffered with stress, anxiety or depression needed a good kick up the backside." We hear the story of a farmer who had to change his mind about depression when he was hit with it himself. Patrick Joice became severely depressed after getting a diagnosis of terminal cancer...but used his experience to raise awareness within the farming industry and support local charities. A new app allows people to map individual trees - so what's the idea? And could donkeys find a new role as conservation grazers? Presented by Charlotte Smith Produced for BBC Audio in Bristol by Heather Simons

    Vital Seeds

    Play Episode Listen Later Dec 31, 2021 13:13

    Extensive consolidation of the seed industry in the past 70 years has resulted in the closure of most independent seed merchants. It has also led to the loss of regionally adapted plant varieties that suit local soils and conditions in favour of standardised hybridised varieties typically bred for high yields. The UN Food and Agricultural Organisation estimates that the loss of genetic diversity in plants globally stands at 75% along with the disappearance of 93% of our unique seed varieties in the past 100 years. A parallel issue is that as these patented, hybridised seeds dominate the market, it removes the option for growers to save seed from crops to sow the next year as has been the tradition for thousands of years, since humans started farming. This is because seeds produced by a hybrid plant won't 'grow true' - that is, they will not have the same genetic make up as the parent plant so will not produce the same quality of crop. Vital Seeds in Devon is part of a Seed Sovereignty movement to change this direction of travel, growing rare varieties of vegetables and flowers that are open-pollinated meaning they will grow true, and teaching people how to save seed. Rachel Lovell joined them on a windy winter's day to find out more about what they are doing, and why they are so devoted to saving traditional seeds.


    Play Episode Listen Later Dec 30, 2021 13:31

    Scottish curlers have made headlines around the world again last month, with both the men's and women's teams winning gold medals at the European Championships - both of them with members of farming families in the line-up. And that's no new phenomenon, because the link between Scottish farmers and the game of curling stretches back over the centuries and farmers have dominated the highest echelons of the sport for generations. But as Nancy Nicolson meets some recent stars of the game she discovers times are changing and the imperative of winning international medals has made it almost impossible to be both a professional curler and a professional farmer.

    Culm Grassland

    Play Episode Listen Later Dec 29, 2021 13:31

    Sarah Swadling goes in search of one of the UK's rarest farmland habitats, Culm Grassland. Around 90% of Culm has been lost to drainage, reseeding of pastures, and forestry. Its heartland is North Devon and North Cornwall, where farmers and conservationists are working together to preserve and restore the special blend of plants which makes Culm Grassland unique, and a haven for wildlife.

    Lake District Valley Tweeds

    Play Episode Listen Later Dec 28, 2021 13:15

    Sheep have been at the heart of Lake District farming for generations but their wool is worth next to nothing. Coniston farmer Maria Benjamin hopes to change that, for some farmers at least, with Lake District Tweed – Sustainably Hefted Cloth, a new initiative that connects the history and culture of wool production in the Lake District with contemporary Lakeland farming. Wool from farmers in 13 different Lakeland valleys is being used to weave individual valley tweeds with designs inspired by the unique characteristics of each valley, the lakes, the landscape, the geology and the former industry. The material will be sold as throws and by the metre representing valleys including Ennerdale, Windermere and Ullswater. The project is supported by a grant from the Lake District National Park's Farming in Protected Landscapes Fund and an already oversubscribed Kickstarter fund. Caz Graham travels to Coniston Water to meet Maria and her flock of Castlemilk Moorit sheep, farmer and knitter Sadie Edmondson, weaver Sheila Phillips and textile designer Louise Dixon.

    Dahlia Beach

    Play Episode Listen Later Dec 27, 2021 11:33

    Anna Louise Claydon explores Dahlia Beach - a new PYO Dahlia Flower experience taking social media by storm. Meet the Founder, Andie McDowell who launched the idea of a grow-your-own cut flower garden in a box just 12 months ago. The venture escalated on instagram, growing over 30,000 loyal followers, inspiring Andie to find rented land that could enable her dreams of launching a PYO dahlia venture. Hear Andie's emotional journey as she reflects on some of the challenges of the last 18 months. We find out why Millets Farm took on a first-time farmer, the inspiration behind the name “Dahlia Beach" and Andie's ambitions for the new year ahead - her second year in business... Produced and presented by Anna Louise Claydon

    Christmas Panto

    Play Episode Listen Later Dec 25, 2021 24:51

    Every day, hundreds of thousands of people around the world watch a Wiltshire farmer as he lets out his animals into the farmyard. Chris Franklin from Marsh Farm is known as the “chatty farmer” and his videos of the animals' morning rush-hour have gone viral. Chris and his wife Helie have turned the dairy farm in Devizes where he grew up into a centre for education, working with schools, care homes and community groups. Caenhill Countryside Centre has more than 300 animals, from poultry and pigs, to goats, sheep and cows, even emus! The farm's now a charity, and relies on volunteers to help run it. They have around three quarters of a million followers on social media. They're putting on a Christmas panto, which they'll share with viewers in more than 50 different countries.

    01/01/22 Farming Today This Week: New Year's Day Special

    Play Episode Listen Later Dec 24, 2021 24:45

    We look both forward to 2022 and back at 2021, reflecting on the past year's experiences to consider what might be in store for the UK's farmers and rural communities over the next 52 weeks. Joining Charlotte are Sean Spiers, executive director of the environmental think-tank the Green Alliance, president of the National Farmers' Union Minette Batters, and Shanker Singham, chief executive of the trade law and economic consultancy Competere and member of the Trade and Agriculture Commission. Presented by Charlotte Smith and produced by Beatrice Fenton.

    24/12/21 - A Feast of Festive Farming Fun

    Play Episode Listen Later Dec 24, 2021 13:38

    On Christmas Eve, Charlotte Smith brings a feast of festive farming stories - from a carol service at a mart to a tractor run through Liverpool which has raised more than £60,000 for charity. Presented by Charlotte Smith Produced for BBC Audio in Bristol by Beatrice Fenton and Heather Simons

    23/12/21 Cornish oysters, new NI farm policy, migrant farm workers, Christmas meat

    Play Episode Listen Later Dec 23, 2021 13:35

    This time of year should be a boom time for Cornish oyster exports to continental Europe; they're an integral part of festive celebrations in several countries. But since the end of the Brexit transition in January, shipping bivalve molluscs to the EU has become largely impractical, because of a trade dispute about coastal water quality. We hear more from fishers on the Falmouth Estuary. Northern Ireland's Agriculture Minister, Edwin Poots, has revealed his proposal for schemes to replace the current subsidy system, whcih will replace the EU's Common Agricultural Policy. And in answer to a listener query, we explore when the UK's dependence on migrant labour began - as the Government insists companies should be investing in attracting more British workers to work in food processing and agriculture. Finally, we hear from a Snowdonian sheep farmer who wants more of us to eat locally sourced meat for Christmas; even if it means a break with tradition... Presented by Charlotte Smith and produced by Beatrice Fenton.

    22/12/21 - Puffin wrecks, Norwegian cod quotas and honey mead

    Play Episode Listen Later Dec 22, 2021 13:32

    Dead and dying puffins have been washing up on beaches from Shetland down to the North East of England. Puffins are on the RSPB's red list of birds with the highest conservation priority and this kind of mortality rate is highly unusual for this time of year. The UK and Norway have agreed a new deal for fishing in each other's waters in 2022. This year there's been no deal. The new agreement will see UK boats and Norwegian boats both able to catch up to 30 thousand tonnes of white fish in each others' waters. There's an additional UK quota for 500 tonnes of cod - that means that in total UK boats can catch more than 7000 tonnes of cod in the Arctic, because of a separate allocation of the fish around Svalbard. The government says it will provide fishing opportunities that will benefit both the fishing industry and the protection of the marine environment. But Jane Sandell from UK Fisheries, which owns the Kirkella, a huge Hull based trawler with a hundred strong crew, says the cod quota the Government has negotiated is paltry. And mead is a festive tipple but the market for this ancient honey-based drink is growing and not just at this time of year. In the US there's a mead renaissance - the American Mead Makers Association says hundreds of craft producers have set up business over the last two decades. We meet a mead maker in Wales, who's hoping that trend will spread. Presented by Caz Graham Produced for BBC Audio in Bristol by Heather Simons

    21/12/2021 - The end of Farmdrop, avian flu, and parsnips for Christmas

    Play Episode Listen Later Dec 21, 2021 13:39

    Farmers have been left picking up the pieces after the online Grocery company, Farmdrop, suddenly ceased trading last week. It specialised in connecting small scale farmers, growers and independent businesses with customers. As many as 450 suppliers will be affected by the company's collapse. Some farmers are owed tens of thousands of pounds, others delivered large orders of meat just hours before learning the company had gone into administration. The UK is facing its largest ever outbreak of avian flu. More than sixty cases have been confirmed across the country since the start of November with more than 2 million domestic birds infected. The Government's Chief Vet has told us the high level of infection on farms this year is down to higher than normal infections in wild birds. And parsnips are a key ingredient of Christmas dinner...which makes it a busy time of year for parsnip farmers! Presented by Caz Graham Produced for BBC Audio in Bristol by Heather Simons

    20/12/2021 Import rules, Auction mart vaccinations, Christmas turkeys

    Play Episode Listen Later Dec 20, 2021 11:31

    There will be new import rules on food products coming into the UK from the EU from next year - what impact are they likely to have? We hear from the Food and Drink Federation. A pop-up vaccination centre for farmers has been added to a sheep auction mart in Cumbria. And we hear about the particular countdown turkey farmers have to Christmas. Presented by Charlotte Smith and produced by Beatrice Fenton.

    18/12/2021 - Farming Today This Week: Trade deals, labour shortages, the 'farmer's wife"

    Play Episode Listen Later Dec 18, 2021 25:05

    The Government describes the new trade deal with Australia as "exciting" and says it will benefit both consumers and business. But farming and environment organisations are pretty much united in their condemnation. We delve into the labour shortages in food and farming - from the lack of butchers to process pig meat, to the calls for more temporary visas for seasonal work. And when is a farmer a "farmer's wife"? We hear from one woman who wants to challenge the official job title of "farmer's wife" after finding it as an option in a drop down menu on her son's UCAS form, where there was no option for "farmer's husband". Presented by Charlotte Smith Produced for BBC Audio in Bristol by Heather Simons

    17/12/21 Rows over farm workers, the ongoing pig cull, Christmas cheese

    Play Episode Listen Later Dec 17, 2021 13:16

    A shortage of butchers in meat processing plants means they're taking fewer pigs. As pigs back-up on farms farmers run out of room and healthy pigs have to be killed. We hear from a vet who's involved both in culling and training others to cull. The Immigration Minster, Kevin Foster, told MPs that the Government had done everything asked of it to help attract more butchers from abroad to alleviate problems here, but said more pork processors should register to sponsor visas. Tony Goodger from the Association of Independent Meat Suppliers says Mr Foster needs to check his facts. Earlier this year UK daffodil growers told us they'd lost a quarter of their crop as they couldn't find enough people to pick it. The Government is to extend the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Pilot scheme to cover flower farms, not just farms that produce food. A daffodil grower tells us that's good news, but recruiting enough people to start start picking this month will be a challenge. Presented by Charlotte Smith and produced by Beatrice Fenton.

    16/12/21 30,000 pigs culled on farms, how to solve the labour problem, buffalo mozzarella

    Play Episode Listen Later Dec 16, 2021 13:30

    The crisis in the pig industry: we discuss what the Government is and isn't doing about it; and new recommendations on managing short term issues in the labour market. Only 50 butchers have applied for the 800 temporary visas the Government has made available under the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Scheme. These are aimed at alleviating problems in meat processing plants. Pig farmers say their sector is now 'on its knees' and they've lost hundreds of millions of pounds. The latest figure from the National Pig Association is that 30,000 healthy pigs have had to be culled as the shortage of butchers means they can't be processed. The Migration Advisory Committee, an independent public body that advises the Government on migration issues, has now weighed in with its annual report released yesterday. It warns against using temporary visa schemes to solve longer term problems. All this week we're focusing on cheese. When it comes to mozzarella, although much of what you'll find on UK supermarket shelves is made from cow's milk, the traditional cheese is made from buffalo milk. There're only a handful of buffalo mozzarella producers in the UK, one being the Buffalo Dairy in Wales. Presented by Charlotte Smith and produced by Beatrice Fenton.

    15/12/21 - Seasonal workers, Shropshire by-election, vegan cheese alternative

    Play Episode Listen Later Dec 15, 2021 13:38

    This year, 30 thousand seasonal workers were allowed to the UK under a pilot scheme to pick fruit and veg. The National Farmers Union wants the scheme to be made permanent and the number of visas raised to at least 55,700. Meanwhile a Home Office Minister has told the EFRA Committee the Seasonal Workers Pilot scheme will be turned into a 3 year scheme with 30,000 visas available for next year and the year after, decreasing to 28,000 in the third year. He confirmed it would include visas for work in non-edible horticulture. North Shropshire has had Conservative MPs for the best part of 200 years - but the manner of Owen Paterson's recent departure means the outcome of tomorrow's by election for his replacement, is less than certain. We hear what the hot topics will be in this rural constituency. And legally, terms like milk, cheese, cream and yogurt are protected so they can only be used for the associated dairy products and not to describe non-dairy produce. We hear about a vegan alternative to cheese made from cashews. Presented by Anna Hill Produced for BBC Audio in Bristol by Heather Simons

    14/12/21 - NI Protocol, the Lump Sum Exit scheme, a Welsh cheese born in the Netherlands

    Play Episode Listen Later Dec 14, 2021 13:12

    Northern Ireland Agriculture Minister, Edwin Poots, says GPS technology could be used to reduce the need for checks on products travelling from Great Britain for use in Northern Ireland. Under the Northern Ireland Protocol, products travelling from Great Britain and Northern Ireland are subject to checks to make sure they comply with EU standards. Since leaving the EU's Common Agricultural Policy, part of the Government's plan for farming in England includes an ‘exit scheme' for those who want to leave the industry. A consultation was held over the summer, and ended in August, but farmers are still waiting for the final details of the scheme, which is supposed to open next year. The consultation suggested giving farmers a lump sum of just over 2 times their normal Basic Payments in return for selling or renting out their land. The payments would be capped at 100 thousand pounds. And we visit a dairy in Wales to find out about a local cheese with a Dutch heritage. Presented by Anna Hill Produced for BBC Audio in Bristol by Heather Simons

    11/12/21 Farming Today This Week: Trees felled by Storm Arwen, Defra Secretary on pig crisis, post-Brexit farm payments

    Play Episode Listen Later Dec 11, 2021 24:52

    A fortnight ago today we were waking up to many reports of fallen trees and extensive damage caused by storm Arwen. Now that it's been possible to assess the extent of that damage, it's clear just how serious it was. In Scotland a fifth of the annual timber harvest was been felled in one go. We hear about the challenge of processing it all at once. Unless the Government takes action there will be no British pig industry left - that's the latest warning from the National Pig Association which says the crisis on farms is getting worse despite ministers' attempts to alleviate it. It estimates more than 16,000 pigs have now been culled on farms, and says more will follow. But the Defra Secretary George Eustice tells us that he's done all that was asked of him. There are big changes facing UK farmers over the next few years, with the mammoth task of shifting from one longstanding agricultural policy, the EU's CAP, to four new policies for farm payments across the UK. We look at new systems being planned for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Presented by Caz Graham and produced by Beatrice Fenton.

    08/12/21 - Payments for access, changes to the planning rules and farmers with no electricity

    Play Episode Listen Later Dec 8, 2021 13:41

    Public access campaigners say they've been betrayed, after DEFRA says payments for access won't be included in the Sustainable Farming Incentive in England. The future of the planning system shouldn't focus on housebuilding alone, but also on “democratic sentiment” and “environmental benefit" - according to the new Secretary of State for Housing and Levelling Up, Michael Gove. And, as the damage of yesterday's Storm Barra is assessed, it couldn't have come at a worse time for those already hit by Storm Arwen. We hear from a farmer who was left without electricity for 11 days. Presented by Anna Hill Produced for BBC Audio in Bristol by Heather Simons

    07/12/21 - Seasonal Workers Pilot, Welsh farm payments and dog attacks

    Play Episode Listen Later Dec 7, 2021 13:41

    New research into the Seasonal Workers Pilot claims the guest workers get a "raw deal". It highlights concerns about the way it's being run and the lack of protection offered to workers under it. The current Pilot has allowed 30,000 workers from around the world to come to the UK for 6 months to work on farms growing food. It finishes at the end of this year and the Home Office says a decision on any extension will be taken “in due course". The Welsh Labour Minister for Rural Affairs, Lesley Griffiths, has told us she would have liked to have been further ahead with the introduction of new farming payments by now. The new sustainable farming scheme for Wales - which will replace payments under the Common Agricultural Policy - is set to be rolled out from 2025. Meanwhile, area-based payments to farmers will be maintained, unlike in England where they're already being phased out. And dog owners could face a fine of up to ten thousand pounds and six months in prison if their pets attack livestock. It follows a campaign by Dorset farmer Cameron Farquharson who started a petition after his pregnant cow Gladis died following a dog attack. Presented by Anna Hill Produced for BBC Audio in Bristol by Heather Simons

    06/12/21 Defra Secretary on the pig crisis, the future of farm subsidies, tree beetle threatens spruce trees

    Play Episode Listen Later Dec 6, 2021 11:41

    The continuing crisis on pig farms: George Eustice tells us the Government has done what was asked of it, but the National Pig Association says it needs more help. An invasive tree beetle has been discovered at 13 sites across Kent and East Sussex. It attacks spruce trees, initially weaker ones but it can spread to mature healthy trees, including pine and now a mass felling operation has begun to eradicate it. This week here we're looking at the new post-Brexit farm subsidy systems being planned for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Agriculture is devolved so the different parts of the UK have different approaches. Today Dr Ruth Little from Sheffield University says the new schemes for England could be brilliant if the Government can get enough farmers to take part. Presented by Charlotte Smith and produced by Beatrice Fenton.

    04/12/21 - Farming Today This Week: The Sustainable Farming Incentive and labour shortages

    Play Episode Listen Later Dec 4, 2021 24:55

    Charlotte Smith visits Thame Farmers Mart in Oxfordshire where a weekly livestock auction is taking place. Following the latest announcements from Government about the future of farm payments in England, we hear farmers' views. Another hot topic is the shortage of labour - both on farm and in the wider food industry. We visit a turkey farm in the midst of the pre-Christmas rush, hear how some Northern Irish dairy farmers are leaving the industry and ask how Riverford has managed to employ 50% British field workers. Presented by Charlotte Smith Producer for BBC Audio in Bristol by Heather Simons

    03/12/21 The Secretary of State for the Environment on the new post-Brexit farming support scheme

    Play Episode Listen Later Dec 3, 2021 13:42

    The biggest change in farming in a generation is underway: it's the transition from a system of subsidy money paid to farmers based on the amount of land they have to, in England at least, a system of paying public money for public goods. We hear details from the Secretary of State for the Environment, George Eustice, and mixed reaction from farming and conservation groups. And rounding off our week on farm labour, we visit a farm in Shropshire where Peter Davies has worked for the last 60 years, and at 81 is still doing four days a week. Presented by Charlotte Smith and produced in Bristol by Beatrice Fenton.

    02/12/21 New farm payment scheme revealed, insects for hen feed, Christmas turkey workers

    Play Episode Listen Later Dec 2, 2021 13:37

    The Defra Secretary of State will announce the new post-Brexit support payments for farmers in England today. Will they like what they hear? It's the biggest change to the way farmers are supported by the Government in nearly 50 years, so it is a big deal. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will be implementing their own systems. Morrisons supermarket has announced that it's installing ‘mini insect farms' with ten of its egg producers to provide climate friendly feed for the hens. The aim is to reduce the amount of imported soya used as feed. All this week we've been looking into the issues around farm labour. December is the busy month for turkey farms and this year they've been landed with the double whammy of finding enough seasonal workers and coping with avian flu outbreaks. Presented by Caz Graham and produced by Beatrice Fenton.

    01/12/21 Gene-edited farm animals, uncertainty over new subsidy payments, shortage of farm workers in Northern Ireland

    Play Episode Listen Later Dec 1, 2021 13:16

    A paper from the Nuffield Council on Bioethics calls for a new international agreement to be reached around welfare in any future gene-edited farm animals - to ensure it doesn't cause them harm, or lead to farming methods with lower welfare standards. Later this week the Government will announce details about the new support payments for farmers, the Sustainable Farming Incentive. At an online conference yesterday for tenant farmers, run by the National Farmers' Union, the Farming Minister Victoria Prentis surprised delegates by saying that the details of subsidies in England "will change from year to year". And a Northern Ireland charity says that a lack of farm workers is causing a spike in calls to its helpline, with farmers there leaving the dairy industry because a lack of staff is making the job impossible. Presented by Anna Hill and produced by Beatrice Fenton.

    30/11/21 First beaver translocation in Scotland, Storm Arwen's impact on farms, Riverford veg workers

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 30, 2021 13:17

    We witness the first translocation of beavers into the wild since the Scottish Government changed its policy on the issue and pledged to 'actively support' the expansion of the country's beaver population via translocation - or trapping and releasing. This new policy contrasts with the previous position that lethal control was the primary option to reduce the species' impacts on farmland, with translocation out of home areas not permitted. Storm Arwen might be over, but the trail of damage left in its wake will take some time to clear up, and even longer to put right. We hear from a farmer who had to dig her sheep out of the snow, and from another who's lost 50% of tree cover from the farm. This week we're focusing on the people who work on UK farms, and what farmers are doing to tackle the industry's labour shortage. Riverford is one of the country's biggest organic veg box businesses and in peak season it needs hundreds of people to pick and pack produce. Around half of the field workforce comes from the UK, a much higher proportion than is usual in horticulture. We ask why. Presented by Anna Hill and produced by Beatrice Fenton.

    29/11/21 - Seasonal Worker Pilot, water sustainability and public sector food procurement

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 29, 2021 11:36

    People in Azerbaijan, Ukraine and Nepal are apparently keen to work on UK farms. The Association of Labour Providers tells us all three countries have been liaising with companies running the Government's Seasonal Worker Pilot scheme. Meanwhile, the Home Office says a decision on the future of the pilot will be made “in due course”. Water is no longer something that farmers take for granted - over the past few years we've reported on both very wet weather and long dry spells destroying crops. Now 50 leading UK food and drink companies have signed up to support a new Water Roadmap, which aims to improve the availability and quality of water across 20 target areas. And the campaign group Sustain wants the Government to buy more - and higher quality - British food for the public sector. It says the £2.4 billion budget spent on food for hospitals, prisons and schools should support British farmers, spend taxpayer money in rural areas and provide people with healthier food. Presented by Charlotte Smith Produced for BBC Audio in Bristol by Heather Simons

    27/11/21 Farming Today This Week: Croptec Show, wildlife crime, National Trust's ban on trail hunting

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 27, 2021 25:11

    This week we go from big machines to a small but powerful app. Along the way we'll talk about the increase in wildlife crime - and the decrease in convictions, and the National Trust's ban on trail hunting, something the pro hunt Countryside Alliance describes as disappointing. Presented by Charlotte Smith and produced by Beatrice Fenton.

    26/11/21 - Trail Hunting and the CropTec Show

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 26, 2021 13:29

    After so many months presenting the programme from home, Charlotte Smith is finally allowed out! She visits the CropTec Show in Peterborough to look at the latest innovation in farm machinery and test the mood among farmers. And, trail hunting will no longer be allowed on National Trust land, with the charity describing it as a ‘reputational risk‘. We ask what the future holds for trail hunting. Presented by Charlotte Smith Produced for BBC Audio in Bristol by Heather Simons

    25/11/21 - Farming for the Future Award winner, wildlife crime, bird flu lockdown and electrical weed control

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 25, 2021 13:40

    Last year saw a marked increase in wildlife crime, but a decrease in convictions. A report out today from Wildlife and Countryside LINK says reports of likely crimes against badgers were up 36% on 2019 and those against raptors doubled. All poultry in the UK must be kept indoors from Monday to limit the spread of bird flu. The Governments in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have agreed that flocks must be confined and strict biosecurity measures followed. Wild birds migrating to the UK from Europe during the winter can carry the disease and spread it to birds kept outside. And Charlotte Smith announces the winner of the Farming for the Future Award at the BBC Food and Farming Awards. Presented by Charlotte Smith Produced for BBC Audio in Bristol by Heather Simons

    24/11/21 - Pesticide regulation, breeding disease resistance in seeds, regenerative dairy farming

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 24, 2021 13:40

    New research questions whether the rules assessing the toxicity of pesticides are doing enough to prevent harm to pollinators. Regulation of pesticides usually focuses on the impact of the active ingredients of a product, but this study found a additional chemical used in commercial fungicides in the UK can damage the health of bumblebees. We visit a seed breeding organisation where they're developing winter wheat that can resist diseases like yellow rust and septoria. And ‘regenerative farming' has been gaining attention around the world as a means of improving soils, increasing biodiversity and mitigating climate change. Big companies like Nestle, Unilever, McCain and Pepsi have announced they'll be investing in the idea, but so far there's little data-driven proof of its impact. We find out about a project run by the dairy co-operative Arla which will gather data from 24 farms across Europe. Presented by Anna Hill Produced for BBC Audio in Bristol by Heather Simons

    23/11/21 - Lobster deaths, tackling flea beetle, the Institute for Agriculture and Horticulture and algae for animal feed

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 23, 2021 13:41

    An investigation is underway into the death of a large number of crabs and lobsters off the North East coast of England. The phenomenon was first reported on some Teesside beaches last month and has now started happening in Whitby too. Scientists are analysing samples of water, mussels and crab. They've also used a trawler to take samples from the sea bed to investigate whether any other animal groups have been impacted. So far, they haven't detected any diseases, and have ruled out sewage, seismic activity and underwater cables. Oil seed rape is a valuable crop for arable farmers, but attacks by flea beetle can seriously damage it, putting some off growing it altogether. We visit a farm in Wiltshire where they're trying out a new way to tackle flea beetles. Seven years ago they started spraying their rape with digestate - the left-over residue from their anaerobic digester - and discovered it significantly reduced the amount of flea beetle damage. A new on-line Institute is being launched for farming and horticulture. The aim it to enhance continuing professional development for farmers, growers and their staff, and help recruit new people into the industry. The Institute for Agriculture and Horticulture (TIAH) has initial funding from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs with the aim of it becoming a self-sustaining, membership organisation in the future. And we visit a UK biofuels company where they're working on a trial to see if algae can grown using waste water and then used for animal feed! The long term aim is for dairy processors and breweries to have on-site reactors, which can then use their own waste water to grow livestock feed. Presented by Anna Hill Produced for BBC Audio in Bristol by Heather Simons

    22/11/21 Food Wales Bill, pine trees disease, crop protection

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 22, 2021 11:31

    The foundations are in place for a new Food Bill in Wales. It could mean better prices and a more sustainable future for welsh farmers. There's concern about a disease affecting trees that's been found in conifers in Devon, Cornwall and now Cumbria. We start a week long look at crop protection. Presented by Caz Graham and produced by Beatrice Fenton.

    20/11/21 - Farming Today This Week: Pig backlog, chicken cull, polluted oysters and deer management

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 20, 2021 25:05

    The problems in the pig sector have not gone away. As we've been reporting for months now, a shortage of butchers has meant abattoirs are processing fewer animals, and pigs have been backing up on farms. Where numbers get too high, these pigs have to be culled on farm for welfare reasons - with the meat NOT getting into the food chain. So far, 14,000 pigs have been culled, and we've heard reports that some farmers are considering aborting piglets rather than having to cull them once they've been born. To try and tackle this problem, the Government released 800 temporary visas for foreign butchers as well as a scheme to freeze and store extra pig meat - which opened this week. The idea is that pigs can be slaughtered and then cut into basic joints and frozen… with the Government picking up the bill for the storage. We find out how the scheme is working. We also visit an egg producer to find out how the supermarket pledge to stop selling caged whole eggs by 2025 is impacting his business and see how a "social croft" can be a viable way of making money on a small patch of land. Presented by Caz Graham Produced for BBC Audio in Bristol by Heather Simons

    17/11/21 - Pork staff shortages, lighting for fish, organic chicken and the CPTPP

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 17, 2021 13:26

    The DEFRA Secretary, George Eustice, has faced questions from MPs about the staff shortages in the pork supply chain. He says there's only so much Government can do to help processors find staff, and businesses must "take some responsibility" for getting the staff they need. Young farmed fish like salmon and trout are often kept under 24 hour lights to make them grow faster. But new research by Bangor, Aberystwyth and Cardiff Universities suggests keeping young fish, known as fingerlings, under constant artificial light, can disrupt their immune systems and make them more susceptible to parasites. Food prices have been rising and now free-range egg producers are calling for a price hike to help cover the increased cost of inputs like feed, energy, and labour. This week, we're focusing on chickens, and it seems those producing chickens for meat are also feeling the squeeze of escalating input costs. We visit Capestone Organic Poultry in Pembrokeshire - one of the largest producers of organic chicken in the UK, processing 30,000 birds a week. The Government's been busy setting up several trade deals over the last year, not without some misgivings from the farming community. It's now set out how it is going to approach joining one of the big trading groups in the world, the CPTPP - the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership made up of 11 countries including Australia, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia and Mexico. Unlike other agreements, the UK will be joining a trading arrangement which has already been set up by other countries, so will it have less say on any arrangements? Presented by Anna Hill Produced in Bristol for BBC Audio by Heather Simons

    16/11/21 - Continued pig backlog, free range chickens and Scottish slurry spreading rules

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 16, 2021 13:38

    For months, a shortage of butchery workers has left pig farmers coping with a backlog of animals on farms. Now, some are considering aborting piglets to avoid culling at birth. Last month the Government announced measures to try and tackle the backlog - including 800 temporary visas for foreign butchers and funding to pay for excess pig meat to be frozen. But the National Pig Association has written to the DEFRA Secretary, George Eustice, to say it's not working. We find out about a new type of shed for free range chickens. Rather than the traditional pop-holes for letting the birds outside, this shed has open walls leading onto a 4 meter wide veranda area. It's hoped the veranda will encourage more birds to access the outside range, but it makes the shed 20% more will it work? And new muck-spreading rules in Scotland are being introduced to try and reduce ammonia emissions. It includes a ban on the use of splash-plates to spread slurry across fields - precision equipment will have to be used instead. Presented by Anna Hill Produced for BBC Audio in Bristol by Heather Simons

    12/11/21 - Native seaweed research, milk prices and the history of ploughing matches

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 12, 2021 13:12

    The UK has signed a global pledge to reduce methane emissions by 30% by 2030, including from cattle and other ruminants. Feeding red seaweed to cattle has already been shown to reduce methane emissions. But red seaweed only grows in warm waters, so studies are now being carried out into the use of British and Irish seaweeds as an animal feed additive. The price farmers are paid for milk is going up - but there are warnings that it won't be enough. While many processors have announced they will be paying farmers more this autumn, reports from both consultants and industry bodies agree that more price increases will be needed to keep up with the rising costs of producing milk. And this year saw the 70th British National Ploughing Championship, a contest built on a tradition which goes back hundreds of years. We learn more about where these competitions came from. Presented by Charlotte Smith Produced for BBC Audio in Bristol by Heather Simons

    11/11/21 - Chair of the new TAC, blue carbon and organic no till

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 11, 2021 13:29

    "Toothless by not meaningless." That's how the Chair of the new Trade and Agriculture Commission sums it up. Charlotte Smith speaks to Professor Lorand Bartels after the inaugural meeting of the new TAC - the independent body set up by the Government to look at UK Free Trade Agreements, assess their impact on food and farming and report to Parliament. A paper published in Nature this year claimed marine sediments are the largest pool of organic carbon on the planet and a crucial reservoir for long-term storage. But bottom trawling along the seabed can disturb the sediments and release the carbon. So some scientists argue protecting the carbon-rich seabed is a potentially important nature-based solution to climate change. And will organic farmers ever be able to give up ploughing? We gaze into our crystal balls. Presented by Charlotte Smith Produced for BBC Audio in Bristol by Heather Simons

    10/11/21 - Food labelling, earthworm abundance and COP26 sustainable farming pledge

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 10, 2021 13:41

    The issue over food standards and trade has re-surfaced after the farming minister told MPs that the Government would not take up a recommendation made in the National Food Strategy to set ‘minimum standards' on animal welfare and environmental protection. The author of the Government's National Food Strategy, Henry Dimbleby, has accused the Government of rejecting his advice. The farming minister Victoria Prentis told MPs on the International Trade Committee that although some standards are already set in law not everything can be covered by legislation. But she suggested other options - including food labelling - could be used to protect standards. Earthworms are one key barometer of soil health. As part of our week-long focus on cultivation, we head out into the fields with a worm expert, to find out how they're impacted by different cultivation methods. And the UK has led 45 countries around the world to sign up to more sustainable farming methods. They made the pledge at COP26, the International Climate Change summit in Glasgow. The measures include commitments to stop de-forestation, cut methane emissions, and invest in climate-resilient crops and new techniques for regenerating soil. The UK will also launch a £65 million “Just Rural Transition” programme to help developing countries move towards more sustainable methods of agriculture and food production. Presented by Anna Hill Produced for BBC Audio in Bristol by Heather Simons

    09/11/2021 - Welsh soya imports, reduced tillage and sand dune restoration

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 9, 2021 13:40

    A Brazilian tribal chief has warned that Welsh soya imports could be responsible for "not only deforestation, but indigenous blood". Research by environment charities suggests an area 40% the size of Wales is needed to grow a handful of key agricultural commodities like soy, palm-oil and beef to satisfy Welsh import demands. Our week long focus on cultivation continues with a visit to a farm which transition to no-till 20 year ago. And sand dunes are one of Europe's most threatened habitats, according to Natural England. They face challenges from development, climate change and undergrazing. We find out about a project in Cornwall where bulldozers are being used for conservation rather than destruction! Presented by Anna Hill Produced by Heather Simons

    06/11/21 Farming Today This Week: COP26

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 6, 2021 24:40

    COP26 is underway in Glasgow, and for agriculture this means discussions about emissions and what farmers are and aren't doing to combat climate change. Costing the Earth's Tom Heap reports on what it's like being a delegate at COP and why farming is conspicuous by its absence from proceedings. Charlotte speaks to Nick Shorter about the role of on-farm carbon off-setting. All four of the UK's farming unions respond to the news that the the UK has signed up to the global pledge on reducing methane by 30% by 2030, and whether this means that everyone needs to eat less meat and dairy. Professor Myles Allen from University of Oxford says that whilst methane reduction is a good thing, it's always the impact on global temperature that needs to be considered rather than just carbon footprint. Producer: Toby Field

    05/11/21 Methane and net zero; Scottish susbsidy system; Carbon auditing; COP26

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 5, 2021 13:41

    The professor who heads the Oxford Net Zero Initiative says farmers should be credited for reducing methane emissions. Professor Myles Allen believes the industry won't have to reduce livestock numbers to meet the global pledge to cut methane levels by 30% by 2030. He wants the government to measure methane levels separately, not as part of a carbon footprint calculation. Farmers who want to sign up for future grant schemes may be compelled to do a carbon audit of their farms. These audits will form part of new plans for the farm payments which are to replace CAP in Scotland. The Scottish government has announced a £51 million pound fund for the transition, starting in 2025. Mari Gougeon, minister for rural affairs and islands, describes how the new system is being designed. Some money will still be paid direct to farmers based on how much land they have, the rest will be linked to environmental improvements. Also, we look at how carbon audits work. We speak to someone who carries them out and a farmer who's been doing them on his land for five years. How is farming seen by delegates at COP 26 in Glasgow? We catch up with programme maker Tom Heap who's covering the climate-change conference. Presenter = Charlotte Smith Producer = Rebecca Rooney

    04/11/21 Meat sent to EU for butchering, farming unions at COP26, bracken for fuel

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 4, 2021 13:33

    In today's programme, Charlotte Smith gets an update on livestock and emissions, and why British meat is being butchered abroad. The British Meat Processors Association says some pig and cattle carcasses are now being exported to be processed and then imported back into the UK. A shortage of butchers means meat processing plants are taking fewer than usual in the UK, causing a backlog of pigs on farms. It was farmers' day at the COP26 climate conference yesterday, with lots of lobby groups discussing the way forward for food and farming, as we move to reduce our emissions. We hear from the UK farming unions, and from Northern Ireland Agriculture Minister Edwin Poots, who aims to increase food production, including meat. All this week we've featured some of the projects around the country that show what can be done to farm more sustainably. Today we hear from Scilly, where islanders are developing a renewable fuel: logs made from bracken. Presented by Charlotte Smith and produced by Beatrice Fenton.

    03/11/21 Sustainable soya for animal feed, precision farming

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 3, 2021 13:39

    The Government says it wants to require companies producing animal feed to only use soya which doesn't destroy forests. We hear whether the supply chain can ensure eco-friendly soya. As world leaders meet at the international climate conference in Glasgow this week, we're looking at net zero and the measures farmers are taking to help them meet government targets. Precision techniques in agriculture have allowed farmers to reduce carbon emissions by working differently on the land. We hear from a team in Angus using techniques to target individual plants with spray. Presented by Anna Hill and produced by Beatrice Fenton.

    02/11/21 Carbon trading, cow poo heating, calls for COP26 to help small scale farmers worldwide

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 2, 2021 13:40

    As COP26 takes place, it's all very environmental today with cow poo heated water supplies, carbon trading and what the international climate summit in Glasgow could mean for farmers worldwide. Presented by Anna Hill and produced by Beatrice Fenton.

    01/11/21 Support for pig farmers, Social media campaign to buy British, COP26

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 1, 2021 11:38

    As culls continue on British pigs farms, because of a lack of butchers in processing plants, the AHDB is starting a new service to help farmers. They're offering a cull and render facility for those producers whose animals have to be killed on farm. Also, we catch up with two farming sisters about the situation on their pig farm in Yorkshire. Kate Moore and Vicky Scott are launching a social media campaign, urging consumers to back British farmers. While world leaders are gathering at COP 26, the World Farmers Organisation tells us farming should be seen as part of the solution, not the problem. Presenter = Charlotte Smith Producer - Rebecca Rooney

    30/10/21 - Farming Today This Week: COP26, Grassland management, Sewage outflows

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 30, 2021 25:09

    COP26 is being described as the last, best chance of averting dangerous climate change. So what are farmers doing to tackle climate change, and is it enough? Charlotte Smith delves into the dos and don'ts of grassland management - from short-rest rotational grazing to multi-species leys. And as sewage outflows hit the headlines, we hear from a farmer who says water companies should face the same regulations as farmers. Presented by Charlotte Smith Produced for BBC Audio in Bristol by Heather Simons

    29/10/21 Farming and net zero. Grass. Anglo-French fishing row.

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 29, 2021 13:39

    COP26, the UN climate change conference in Glasgow, is about to start. Climate change experts say farming needs to do more, faster, to reduce emissions, but the NFU insists it is making great strides towards its net zero targets. As part of our week-long look at grass, we visit a dairy farm taking part in "forage for knowledge", a nationwide programme to measure the impact of rotational grazing, that's a system where animals graze an area for a short time before moving on to let the grass recover. Scientists and farmers say it improves the quality and quantity of the grass. The row between UK and French fishermen is escalating. The French accuse the UK of not giving enough licences for French boats to fish in UK waters, and French fishermen are threatening to block ports if an agreement's not reached next week. Presenter = Charlotte Smith Producer = Rebecca Rooney

    28/10/21 "Haphazard" transition from CAP farm payments to ELMS, plans to tackle emissions from agriculture, the rural Budget

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 28, 2021 13:41

    Some English farmers face going out of business due to the Government's "haphazard" transition from the EU's CAP to a new system of farm payments - that's the warning from a committee of MPs which wants an assessment of the impact of the change and more support for farmers. The environmental ambition of the transition is also being questioned. The Climate Change Committee, an independent body which advises government, says that while the Government's overall net zero plan is "achievable and affordable" plans to tackle emissions from agriculture are still "unclear". The Vice President of the Country Land and Business Association, Victoria Vyvyan, says the Budget showed no ambition for the countryside. This week we're talking about grass - a group of sheep farmers are grazing their flocks on leys containing red clover as part of a trial in the West Midlands and Wales. The farmers say red clover has a number of environmental and business benefits. Presented by Charlotte Smith and produced by Beatrice Fenton.

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