Episodes

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20190123

The latest news about food, farming and the countryside

20190124

The latest news about food, farming and the countryside

20190125

The latest news about food, farming and the countryside

20190126

The latest news about food, farming and the countryside

20190128

The latest news about food, farming and the countryside

20190129

The latest news about food, farming and the countryside

20190130

The latest news about food, farming and the countryside

20190131

The latest news about food, farming and the countryside

20190201

The latest news about food, farming and the countryside

20190204

The latest news about food, farming and the countryside

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The latest news about food, farming and the countryside

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The latest news about food, farming and the countryside

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The latest news about food, farming and the countryside

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The latest news about food, farming and the countryside

5G and rural connectivity, Cattle interactions, Lambing time20190329

Remotely monitoring the movement of your livestock...or catching an intruder opening a gate...all in real time. Some say the possibilities of 5G could transform farming. But could it also help connect rural communities that are beyond the reach of broadband? A project called 5G Rural First is testing that. We visit one of the test sites and find out what it means.

New research has found farm businesses can be linked to more than a thousand other farms simply by trading cattle. Scientists at the University of Exeter analysed 75 million cattle movements from 2001 to 14, and by looking at 12 month periods of trading found that about half of British farms are connected to more than a thousand other farms every year though buying and selling cattle...something which has obvious implications for the spread of disease.

And, it's spring! Any excuse to visit a lambing shed and witness a new life entering the world. We meet students at Wiltshire College as they help around 800 ewes give birth.

Presented by Charlotte Smith
Produced by Heather Simons

Is 5G the answer to rural connectivity?

The latest news about food, farming and the countryside

Brexit Fishing Rights, Sustainable Agriculture, Turkeys20181127

Fishing groups react to the Brexit withdrawal agreement. Fishing For Leave is despondent, but the Scottish Fishermen's Federation believe that all is not lost.
A large-scale assessment of sustainable agriculture across the world, by The Economist Intelligence Unit, has placed the UK as 55th out of 67 countries. The group says its figures show that the UK is failing to cut its green house gas emissions from farming, and is not controlling enough of its water use.
It's time to be thinking about turkeys for Christmas, but of course farmers have been growing their Christmas birds since the summer. Rebecca Rooney has been to visit a turkey farmer in North Wiltshire.

Presented by Anna Hill and produced by Beatrice Fenton.

Fishing groups react to the Brexit withdrawal agreement

The latest news about food, farming and the countryside

Brexit withdrawal agreement vote; organic farming inputs; starting out in farming; Cheltenham Festival.20190313

Theresa May's Brexit withdrawal agreement has been voted down by parliament - so what does that mean for the UK's farmers, food producers and consumers?
Anna Hill gets reactions from Chris Dodds from The Livestock Auctioneers Association, who is also the Chair of the UK Livestock Brexit Group: a body that brings together key players from the livestock sector across England, Wales and Scotland; and Dr John Whittaker, a former MEP, now a Senior Teaching Fellow in Economics at Lancaster University and part of the group Economists for Free Trade.

One of the biggest problems facing new entrants to farming can be simply getting hold of some land.
All this week, we're looking at agriculture's next generation - and if you don’t stand to inherit a family farm, getting a foothold in the sector can be a daunting prospect.
Young farmer Rollo Deutsch believes the best way to get into farming is through shepherding: you can start with just one sheep and build up slowly, renting bigger pieces of land as your flock grows. Rollo got his first pair of sheep when he was nine years old. He’s now 23 and runs a flock of 800 on rented land.
Emily Hughes went to meet him near Stow on the Wold.

How do you go about turning 20 acres of poor, stony soil into productive land to grow vegetables - without fertilisers or manure?
That's what one organic grower in the Thames Valley has done: Iain Douglas Tolhurst grows vegetables in South Oxfordshire, where Rebecca Rooney met him in his packing shed.

And Farming Today gives a special mention to its favourite horse name so far at this year's Cheltenham Festival...

Presented by Anna Hill; produced by Lucy Taylor.

Parliament's voted on the withdrawal agreement: but what does it mean for British farmers?

The latest news about food, farming and the countryside

Brexit's impact on farmers' mental health, tattie day, cows out for spring20190326

The uncertainties over Brexit are feeding in to farmers' stress. A charity working to help, the Farm Safety Foundation, tells us why lack of progress on Brexit is having an impact on farmers' mental health.
Potato planting season is about to get under way across the country. Most get their specialist seed potatoes from catalogues, but this year, for the first time, a Tattie Day was held in Strathmore, the heart of Scotland's commercial seed growing country.
Dairy farmers housing their cows inside over the winter have been watching the grass and the ground carefully for the right time to let them out. Beatrice Fenton went to Yeo Valley farm in Somerset to meet farm manager Jon Wilson, and meet the cows who are ready for a special day.

Presented by Anna Hill and produced by Beatrice Fenton.

A charity describes how uncertainties over Brexit are feeding into farmers' stress.

The latest news about food, farming and the countryside

Climate friendly dairying, Agricultural apprenticeships, Trading grain direct20190312

As we reported yesterday, dairy group Arla plan to make all their milk carbon-neutral by 2050 - but is it workable? We hear from Professor of Sustainable Agriculture, Les Firbank, who describes how it could be feasible.
All this week we're talking about agriculture's next generation. Encouraging more young people to start a career in the industry is a challenge, but one way to enable newcomers is to set up apprenticeships.
In days gone by farmers would take their grain to market to sell themselves, but now it's all done online and farmers will often sell their harvest 'forward' and agree a price and contract even before the crops are in. We hear from one initiative which aims to train farmers to trade their own grain like a trader, and teach them all about price risk management.

Presented by Anna Hill and produced by Beatrice Fenton.

As we reported yesterday, Arla plans to be carbon-neutral by 2050 - but is it workable?

The latest news about food, farming and the countryside

Defra Brexit plans, the scent of spring, sky lantern ban, wildlife warning20190328

While nothing is cut-and-dried yet when it comes to Brexit, the government does seem to be developing contingency plans that would support the hardest-hit farmers, in the event of a no-deal. Speaking to MPs on the the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (EFRA) Committee yesterday, Environment Secretary Michael Gove said Northern Ireland's food producers would be particularly affected if we leave the EU without a deal - and that contingencies were being discussed with the devolved nations.
Charlotte hears more from the EFRA session.

As Farming Today continues with its spring focus this week, we ask how you really know when spring has arrived?
According to researchers, it's through smell: specifically, the earthy aroma from the soil, which becomes most noticeable when spring showers have added a bit of moisture to the earth and temperatures start to warm up.
Anna Hill went for a walk with Professor Mark Butner from the John Innes Centre - who's been researching how this seasonal smell is generated.

A proposal to ban sky lanterns went before parliament yesterday, put forward by the MP for High Peak in Derbyshire, Ruth George, who's concerned about the fire risk they represent. Ms George's ten-minute rule bill is unlikely to become law at this stage, but she tells Charlotte that she has support right across parliament - as well as from organisations such as the RSPCA and the National Farmers Union; so is hopeful of getting it added to the Environment Bill in future.

A new short animation is bringing together badger, ratty, mole and toad in a cinematic trailer imagining a modern version of Wind in the Willows, as pictured by The Wildlife Trusts. The star-studded trailer, released today, aims to draw attention to the plight of wildlife and nature across the UK; and portrays the rather bleak conditions Kenneth Graham's characters could expect to encounter, if they ventured into the countryside today. The Wildlife Trusts says the UK is "one of the most nature-depleted countries in the world", and hopes this will act as a call-to-action for the public and policy-makers.
Charlotte speaks to the Trusts' CEO, Stephanie Hilborne.

Presented by Charlotte Smith - produced by Lucy Taylor.

Michael Gove addresses no-deal contingency planning for Northern Ireland farmers.

The latest news about food, farming and the countryside

Delay to Brexit, early aphids, backing British20190315

Fishermen's fears on a delay to Brexit: we hear from the Scottish Fishermen's Federation.
Aphids will be flying earlier this year. Research from AHDB suggests that crop destroying pests will be flying around ahead of the usual schedule, and perhaps not surprisingly it's down to the weather.
All this week we've been looking at where agriculture's new entrants will come from. Some of those new entrants are already thinking about consumers. Agriculture students at Reading University got involved with the industry's 'Back British Farming' campaign and brought it onto the campus.

Presented by Anna Hill and produced by Beatrice Fenton

Fishermen's fears on a delay to Brexit, and why aphids are early.

The latest news about food, farming and the countryside

Delaying Brexit vote, no-deal vote, tariff plan, land-managing goats, agricultural careers20190314

Last night, MPs voted to reject a no-deal Brexit: but what exactly does that mean for the UK in legal terms? And what can farmers and food producers expect from the next vote tonight, on a potential delay to our departure date from the EU?
Charlotte Smith speaks to former Farming Minister, George Eustice, to get his take on the best option for UK agriculture.

Although the House of Commons has voted 'no' on no-deal, that isn't legally binding and could potentially still happen. If that's the case, the government has announced tariffs that will be imposed on certain goods being imported into the UK, just as the EU and other trading partners would put tariffs on our goods exported to them. Up to now, there had been concern amongst UK farmers that, if the government set tariffs too low, itwould allow cheaper foodstuffs produced to lower standards overseas to come into the UK and undercut home producers...
Charlotte asks Nick von Westenholz, the NFU's Director of EU Exit and International Trade, whether this is still a cause for concern.

Meanwhile under the announced no-deal tariff plan, the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic would be subject to different rules. The government says in a no-deal situation, it will not introduce any new checks or controls, or require customs declarations for nearly all goods moving from across the border from Ireland to Northern Ireland.
According to Ivor Ferguson, President of the Ulster Farmers' Union, that would allow a back door for imports into Great Britain.

From Brexit to Bagots: a horned, black and white breed of goat, which isn't used commercially for milk or meat - which explains why numbers have dropped.
But North Norfolk District Council now owns a dozen rare Bagot goats for land management purposes.
Clare Worden visited the flock, including some noisy new arrivals, to find out more.

And as Farming Today continues its focus on the agricultural sector’s next generation, we hear how one of the big challenges is making youngsters aware of the variety of careers on offer.
MDS is a graduate scheme that offers management apprenticeships specifically for the food and fresh produce industry. 
Dearbhla Gavin visited an open day in East Malling, Kent, to find out how it works.

MPs have said no to a no-deal Brexit, but should farmers still prepare?

The latest news about food, farming and the countryside

Facial recognition technology to read pigs' emotions, red deer cull, Forestry Commission's writer in residence, and more20190319

It's well known that pigs are intelligent and expressive animals. They are social and pig farmers are used to assessing their herds, by sight and sound. But now scientists say they could develop a facial recognition system to show how pigs are feeling, even if their mood is not so evident. We hear from Dr Emma Baxter from Scotland's Rural College.

A major operation is under way to cull red deer which are eating farm crops. Special regulations are being used in the Flanders Moss area near Stirling to give stalkers extra powers to target the growing herds.

The Forestry Commission has just appointed a new writer-in-residence; Zakiya McKenzie, who grew up in Jamaica. She describes how she hopes to connect people from a diversity of backgrounds to Britain's woodland and forests.

Over the last seven years, the spread of the fungal disease Ash Dieback has started to transform some woodlands, as dead trees are felled. In the long term, it's predicted that the disease could kill millions of trees. More immediately, government bodies are concerned that dead trees could prove hazardous near roads, railways and buildings. The Welsh government has now launched a forum to bring together those responsible for keeping public areas safe.

Presented by Anna Hill and produced by Beatrice Fenton.

Scientists are developing technology to tell farmers how pigs are feeling.

The latest news about food, farming and the countryside

Farm safety, Oxford Farming Conference, Oxford Real Farming Conference20190102

Farm safety seems to be a continuing problem for the agricultural sector. According to the Health and Safety Executive, an average of 32 workers are killed in the industry every year. And although farm workers represent just 1% of the Great British workforce, they account for 20% of workplace fatalities.

Charity organisation The Farm Safety Foundation is trying to change that, with a safety course targeting the younger generation. Heather Simons joins students at Bridgwater and Taunton College, as they inspected a mocked-up accident scene. We also hear from Luke Messenger from the Health and Safety Executive's agricultural safety team, to find out how they're trying to address on-farm fatalities.

Meanwhile Farming Today kicks off a week broadcasting from Oxford, at the city's January agricultural conferences: the Oxford Farming Conference, which has been running since 1936; and the Oxford Real Farming Conference, celebrating its 10th year as the self-confessed "antidote to the official Farming Conference".
Charlotte gets the OFC overview from Oxfordshire farmer and agricultural journalist Tom Allen-Stevens, the Oxford Farming Conference chairman. Then ahead of the Oxford Real Farming Conference's start tomorrow, she asks co-founder Ruth West how the event has evolved over its 10-year history.

Charlotte Smith finds resistance to change is at the heart of ongoing farm safety issues

The latest news about food, farming and the countryside

Farming Today This Week - 02/02/201920190202

Weekend edition of the rural magazine.

The latest news about food, farming and the countryside

Food and farming reactions to the Brexit withdrawal agreement vote20190116

Charlotte Smith invites an array of food and farming industry experts to share their take on the outcome of last night's parliamentary vote, on Theresa May's EU withdrawal agreement:

Minette Batters is a Wiltshire beef farmer and president of the National Farmers Union - which supported Mrs May's proposal and has warned that a no-deal scenario would have a devastating impact on farmers.

On the other side of the fence, Conservative MP and former environment secretary Owen Paterson - who was on the political advisory board for the 'Leave Means Leave' group - has argued in favour of a no deal.

The Food and Drink Federation has previously expressed its concerns over what it's labelled the "political and economic chaos" provoked by delays in the Brexit process; Charlotte hears from the organisation's director general, Ian Wright.

And former permanent secretary at the Department for Trade, Sir Martin Donnelly, assesses the state of play in government this morning, and what the next steps could be in the unfolding Brexit story...

Charlotte Smith gets reactions to the Brexit withdrawal agreement vote.

The latest news about food, farming and the countryside

Harbour investment, Scottish agricultural policy, Scottish hunting legislation20190111

Northern Ireland’s most important fishing harbour is facing calls for privatisation, in an ongoing dispute over the site's development.
Kilkeel on the County Down coast employs around a thousand people in the catching and processing industries, but backers claim a multi-million pound expansion could double the employment it can offer.
The plan has been hindered by the collapse of devolution, with the the Department of Agriculture - which owns the harbour - saying it can’t sign off on cash for environmental surveys without ministerial approval.
BBC Northern Ireland's Agriculture and Environment Correspondent Conor Macauley reports.

In Scotland, the government has revealed more details around plans for future agricultural support.
Yesterday in Holyrood, Cabinet Secretary for the Rural Economy Fergus Ewing announced plans to maintain Less Favoured Area Support Scheme payments at 80% of current worth until 2020; and to introduce legislation ensuring farm payments and schemes will continue after Brexit.
He spoke to Charlotte about why LFASS payments are a priority.

The Scottish government has also confirmed it will tighten restrictions on fox hunting.
Hunting with hounds was effectively banned in 2002, although packs can still be used to flush out foxes to be shot. Going forward, that will be limited to just two dogs.
The move has been cautiously welcomed by wildlife groups, but some gamekeepers say it will make hunts "totally ineffective", and could prove "disastrous" for livestock. Charlotte gets more information from BBC Scotland's Environment Correspondent Kevin Keane.

As part of Farming Today's rural development focus, Nancy Nicolson visits an estate just south of Aviemore in the Cairngorms National Park that was due to be split by a new road. Faced with the dilemma, the Balavil Estate came up with a radical, million-pound solution.

Northern Ireland's most important fishing harbour faces calls for it to be privatised.

The latest news about food, farming and the countryside

Housing, spring vegetables, sheep herding by drone20190325

A million homes can be built on brownfield sites helping to preserve the English countryside according to a new report. Builders often prefer to take the cheaper option of building on fresh ground, but as Rebecca Pullinger the Campaign to Protect Rural England's planning campaigner tells Sybil it's not always cheaper to build in the countryside. All this week Farming Today is focusing on the arrival of spring - and what that means for UK farmers. Today we pay a visit to a fourth-generation family business which grows and packages a range of vegetables over a long season, to ensure staggered harvests. And could this spell the of a farmer’s best friend? A drone that herds sheep.

Presented by Sybil Ruscoe

Produced by Alun Beach.

A new report identifies brownfield sites in England that can accommodate a million homes

The latest news about food, farming and the countryside

LAMMA 2019, hill farmers, rural golf course project20190109

This week sees the return of LAMMA, the UK's biggest agricultural machinery show, taking place in Birmingham.
Last year, day two of the event had to be called off in dramatic fashion, when strong winds at its outdoor location in Peterborough prompted safety concerns.
Heather Simons checks out the 2019 event at its new indoor home, the Birmingham NEC - and finds some trepidation around machinery and tech investment...

Meanwhile concern about the future of upland farms across England, has prompted a move to resurrect the All Party Parliamentary Group on Hill Farming.
The previous incarnation of the group closed in 2015, when its head Tim Farron, MP for Westmorland and Lonsdale, had to step down after becoming leader of the Lib Dems. Now, there are calls for the group to reform - with Mr Farron keen to retake the helm.
So why do hill farmers need special help? Anna Hill speaks to Mr Farron and Cumbria hill farmer Will Cockbain.

All this week, Farming Today is focusing on rural development and it's impact on countryside communities.
Open spaces can have all sorts of ecological benefits, but they often go hand in hand with potential financial value - and balancing the two can be a challenge.
The village of Embo in the Scottish Highlands has plans for a world-class golf course on Coul Links, but the project has sharply divided local opinion.
Moira Hickey pays a visit to the site.

Farming Today checks out the UK's largest agricultural machinery show, LAMMA

The latest news about food, farming and the countryside

Meat-free report slammed, wool revival, agri-tech20190121

Food writer says report from the EAT Lancet Commission, telling us to eat less meat, is dangerous to health. Joanna Blythman says farmers and food producers should have been involved.
How data and artificial intelligence will change farming.
Sheep farming family in Kent revive the fortunes of wool on the Romney Marsh.

A new report saying eat less meat is condemned as a starvation diet.

The latest news about food, farming and the countryside

Next Generation20190316

There's been a flurry of activity around Westminster this week, so what better time to talk to the next generation of farmers and find out more about their hopes, ambitions, concerns and plans for UK agriculture?

Charlotte Smith visits Cowage Farm just outside Malmesbury in Wiltshire - a diversified business involving cattle, pigs and arable, as well as commercial and private units.

She talks to Thomas Collins, who runs the farm and is also co-vice chair of the National Farmers' Union's Next Gen Forum, about future-proofing a modern farming business and gets some insight from his father James about the difficulties of handing over a family farm to the next generation, as well as the benefits of taking a step back.

Emily Hughes meets young farmer Rollo Deutsch, who isn't himself from a farming background but broke into agriculture through shepherding.
He now runs a flock of 800 on rented land near Stow-on-the-Wold in Gloucestershire, where she went to meet him.

Back at Cowage Farm, Charlotte and Tom are joined by Jeff Simpkins, whose family runs a dairy farm just down the road; he's also County Chairman of the Wiltshire Federation of Young Farmers' Clubs - and Alex Neason, a student at the Royal Agricultural University in Cirencester, who's also the recipient of the John Innes Foundation bursary for students from non-farming backgrounds who want to make a career in agriculture.

Escaping from the blustery weather in the warmth of the farm kitchen, the group discuss how the past week in Parliament might impact Brexit and farmers and their hopes for the future of British agriculture.

Presented by Charlotte Smith; produced by Lucy Taylor

Charlotte Smith discusses the appeal of agricultural careers in a rapidly changing world.

The latest news about food, farming and the countryside

Oxford farming conferences20190105

Charlotte Smith wraps up Farming Today's coverage of the 2019 Oxford farming conferences, with a programme addressing the big talking points at this year's events.

Racing between the Oxford farming Conference and the Oxford Real Farming Conference, Charlotte chats to delegates from a range of food and farming backgrounds, who share their thoughts on the speakers, events, and hot topics this year.

In an exclusive interview, Charlotte hears from Defra Secretary Michael Gove about his take on a potential no-deal Brexit scenario - and asks whether he'll still be making an appearance as Secretary of State at next year's conference... She also addresses alternative views on the future of farming, with Shadow Farming Minister David Drew and Caroline Lucas MP.

New entrant into farming and member of the Landworkers Alliance Adam Payne tells Charlotte about the need for greater support from young farmers and those coming into the industry for the first time - and chats to a range of delegates

Meanwhile Howard Shannon heads out to Home Farm near Banbury in Oxfordshire, to meet young farmer David Goodwin - also the Agri Vice Chair of the National Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs - to discuss how young farmers feel about the future; and Sarah Swadling finds out why Cornwall farmer Matt Smith has diversified into raising deer for venison.

Charlotte Smith considers the hot topics from this year's Oxford farming conferences.

The latest news about food, farming and the countryside

Oxford farming conferences - Day 120190103

Charlotte Smith reports from Oxford, at the opening of this year's Oxford Farming Conference and the self-styled 'antidote', the Oxford Real Farming Conference.

Ahead of Michael Gove's appearance at both events, Charlotte speaks to South Cambridgeshire farmer Martin Lines, chair of the Nature Friendly Farming Network, to find out more about their call for an amendment to the Agriculture Bill.

She also heads to the pub, to chat to apple farmers participating in the single event hosted jointly by the two conferences: a sparkling panel discussion on the British cider sector.

Meanwhile Lucy Taylor learns about the bureaucratic challenges hampering the UK's small slaughterhouses from Derbyshire butcher and small abattoir operator John Mettrick.

Produced by Heather Simons.

Charlotte Smith reports from both of Oxford's annual agricultural conferences

The latest news about food, farming and the countryside

Oxford farming conferences - Day 220190104

Farming Today continues its coverage of the 2019 farming conferences in Oxford: the Oxford Farming Conference (OFC) and the Oxford Real Farming Conference (ORFC) - and with Defra Secretary Michael Gove addressing both events, it's a day filled with discussions around future agricultural policy, trade deals, funding and potential business opportunities post-Brexit.

Charlotte speaks to Mr Gove about his views on a no-deal Brexit and his ambitions for UK farmers in terms of trade deals, funding and standards. She also hears from Shadow Minister for Farming David Drew, who shares his vision for the future of British agriculture.

Charlotte meets former Government chief scientific adviser, now chief executive of UK Research and Innovation, Professor Sir Mark Walport, to hear his views on the role of science in modern farming policy.

She also meets ORFC co-founder Colin Tudge, to find out why he believes the UK needs to focus its farming research efforts on emulating nature to feed a growing world population and ensure sustainable agriculture in future.

Produced by Lucy Taylor.

Charlotte Smith reports from day two of Oxford's annual farming conferences bonanza

The latest news about food, farming and the countryside

Pine martens, Apple scab, Animal health and welfare, Kiplingcotes Derby20190322

As Farming Today focuses this week on UK woodlands, Heather Simons finds out about the mini-menace that's causing millions of pounds of damage to British woods...
Grey squirrels damage trees by stripping their bark. The Forestry Commission estimates they cause between £6 million and £10 million in woodland damage every year in Britain.
Now, Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust is planning to re-introduce pine martens in the Forest of Dean, to help reduce grey squirrel numbers.
Heather takes a stroll with the Trust's Dr Gareth Parry.

From woodlands, to orchards: apple scab is a fungus that causes dark, scabby marks on the the skin and leaves of the fruits, making them hard to sell.
It's a serious problem - but now there could be a solution in the form of willow wood chip, or mulch as it’s sometimes known.
Victoria Cansfield visited Sheppy’s cider farm in Taunton to find out more.

There's plenty we still don't know about the UK's departure from the EU: what we do know is that once we're out, we'll be negotiating our own international trade deals. In recent months, a lot has been made of how British food production standards could be a major selling point overseas.
Chief veterinary officer Christine Middlemiss tells Lucy Taylor that animal health and welfare has a key role to play in that promotion.

And in East Yorkshire yesterday, the 500th edition of the Kiplingcotes Derby attracted jockeys and spectators from across the country.
Radio Humberside's Chris Arundel joined them near the Yorkshire Wolds town of Market Weighton.

Presented by Caz Graham, produced by Lucy Taylor.

Could pine martens save the UK millions in woodland management costs?

The latest news about food, farming and the countryside

Post Brexit trade, wildfowling and rural planning rules20190107

Pressure is growing on the Government to ensure food imported after Brexit complies with the same standards as UK produced food. We hear from the Shadow Minister for International Trade.

Our reporter heads out with a veteran wildfowler as the season draws to a close...

And kicking off a week of programmes looking at rural development, we lay out the planning rules when it comes to building on farmland and other greenfield sites.

Presented by Charlotte Smith. Produced by Heather Simons

Are food standards under threat when it comes to post Brexit trade?

The latest news about food, farming and the countryside

Raw milk, the Sainsbury's-ASDA merger, planting the National Forest and a poem for the equinox20190320

Sales of raw, or unpasteurised milk, have been growing rapidly across England, Wales and Northern Ireland - from 610 thousand litres in 2014, to 3 million litres last year. Raw milk can contain harmful bacteria because it is unpasteurised. Selling it is illegal in Scotland. In the rest of the UK it's sold under license, and can be sold direct from the farm, online, or via a milk round; but it cannot be sold into shops or larger retailers. We meet farmers who want that rule to change...and ask the Food Standards Agency if it will.

Sainsbury's and ASDA have admitted that after a merger they will pay suppliers less for their products. In a combative statement after criticism about the proposed merger by the Competition and Markets Authority the supermarkets promise to cut prices for consumers by ten percent on everyday items.

As part of our week about woodlands, we visit the National Forest which is slowly growing across parts of Leicestershire, Derbyshire and Staffordshire. Eight and a half million trees planted...many of them on prime arable land. We ask one of the farmers involved - why?!

And to mark the spring equinox, a poem.

Presented by Anna Hill
Produced by Heather Simons

The programme asks if raw milk should be available in shops.

The latest news about food, farming and the countryside

Rising sheep thefts, Net zero carbon dairy, Next generation farming20190311

Ten thousand sheep were stolen in 2018 with only one arrest, and farmers want thieves to be brought to justice. An investigation by BBC Inside Out South found that sheep rustling is a growing business.
Today thousands of dairy farmers will pledge to be carbon neutral by 2050. The promise is being made by Arla, the global farmer owned co-operative which has more than two thousand farmers in the UK. It says it underlines its commitment to making dairy farming sustainable.
All this week we are focusing on the next generation of farmers. Our reporter Mariclare Carey-Jones has been to the Powys Careers Fair at the Royal Welsh Showground, where NFU Cymru’s Next Generation group have been telling school pupils what they can expect from a career in agriculture.

Presented by Charlotte Smith and produced by Beatrice Fenton.

Ten thousand sheep were stolen in 2018 with only one arrest.

The latest news about food, farming and the countryside

Rural Development20190112

From motorways to business parks, from new homes to new railway lines: development in rural areas is often controversial.

Charlotte Smith travels to a farm in Bedfordshire, right in the middle of the proposed Oxford-Cambridge Arc of development to explore the challenges and opportunities. She's joined by the landowner, former NFU President Sir Peter Kendall, and property consultant Brian Buckingham.

We also hear about a range of other rural planning disputes from across the UK.

Charlotte Smith explored the challenges and opportunities of rural development.

The latest news about food, farming and the countryside

Rural development, AHDB on trade opportunities, Trade show models20190110

All this week Farming Today is looking at development in the countryside, and today Rebecca Rooney reports from a village on the outskirts of Swindon.
Wanborough is close to the M4 and the A419, which make it an attractive place for businesses. Now, a local packaging firm wants to build a science park there, on farmland close to a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Villagers say it will ruin their community and blight the North Wessex Downs - but supporters of the development point out that it will create jobs. Can a balance be struck?

A watchdog has decided not to fine the Welsh Government, for accidentally sending details of farms where badgers were killed to an animal rights group.
Names and locations were released in response to a freedom of information request, regarding a government trial of culling TB-infected badgers. It prompted fears the farms could be targeted by activists and has led officials to "urgently review" procedures.

The Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board has released the first in a series of Country Focus Reports, which asses how Britain could increase exports to different markets. These look at consumer eating and purchasing habits in three countries - China, the USA and Japan - and the potential for negotiating agricultural trade deals post-Brexit. Anna Hill finds out more from Phil Hadley, International Market Development Director for the AHDB.

The Scottish government has announced that, following a consultation, it will introduce legislation this year, requiring abattoirs to install CCTV in areas with live animals.

And while the first LAMMA show at Birmingham NEC is being hailed a success - it's also led to calls for the industry to have a think about how it presents itself.
Pictures on social media of glamorous trade show models striking a pose in front of agricultural machinery, prompted surprise and dismay from some - who raised concerns that it promoted an outdated image of farming. Charlotte hears from one of those who reacted to the story, Berkshire estate manager David Hill, who says its time farming moved on...

Charlotte Smith considers the impact of urban expansion on rural areas.

The latest news about food, farming and the countryside

Salmon farming, Geese for Christmas, Ageing farmers, Foraging20181128

A new report from a committee of MSPs at the Scottish Parliament warns that unless the salmon farming industry does more to control fish diseases and reduce its environmental impact, it could jeopardise its reputation as a quality product. We hear from a Conservative member of the Scottish Parliament, who says "light-touch" regulation by the Scottish government has not been good news for the environment.

Christmas is coming and the goose is getting fat... and on one Leicestershire farm, they're doing so on the leftovers of the brewing industry! We meet the young farmer whose aim is to produce geese in the most sustainable way he can.

New research shows that, despite efforts to get younger people into agriculture, the number of older farmers is on the rise - those aged over 65 has gone up by a massive 70 per cent over the last decade. At the same time there has been a decline in the number of under 25s in farming. Anna Hill asks why.

And Charlotte Smith makes the most of the autumn, by going out foraging in Epping Forest.

Producer: Emma Campbell

Should salmon farming in Scotland be better regulated? A report calls for urgent action.

The latest news about food, farming and the countryside

Scrutiny of Fisheries Bill, big machinery, potato trial20190122

As the Fisheries Bill makes its way through the House of Commons, an investigation by MPs says it's short on detail and recommends an independent advisory body is put in place. We hear reaction from the National Federation of Fishermen's Organisations.
This week we're talking about the future of agricultural technology. Earlier this month the newest and shiniest bits of kit were all gathered together under one roof at farm machinery show, Lamma 2019.
A three year farm trial run by the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board has just ended, to find out how to grow better cooking potatoes with less impact on the environment.

Presented by Anna Hill and produced by Beatrice Fenton.

An investigation by MPs into the Fisheries Bill says it is short on detail.

The latest news about food, farming and the countryside

Seasonal labour for spring harvest, PYO daffodils, The science of flowering, Decline in pollinators20190327

Spring is in the air and across the UK's flower-growing regions, blooms are popping up just in time for Mothering Sunday.
At Woodborough Garden Centre near Pewsey, their 'pick-your-own' model allows visitors to come and cut their own daffs.
BBC Wiltshire's Sue Kinnear speaks to the centre's garden manager, Gemma Sparrowhawk - and Anna Hill learns that many commercial flower growers could be envious of that PYO model, this year... Farmers and growers have been vocal about their concerns over labour shortages, driven they say by uncertainty over the value of the pound and workers' rights, once we leave the EU.
Last month Matthew Jarrett, the managing director of agricultural recruitment agency Pro-Force, told Farming Today that a lack of workers had already impacted daffodil growers. Anna finds out how the situation is progressing from Lee Abbey, chief horticulture advisor at the National Farmers Union.

From flower pickers, to flower science - specifically the process that's responsible flowering, which known as 'vernalisation'.
It was received wisdom that crops like wheat need a period of cold, to trigger that transformation. The plant then times its flowering to coincide with warmer weather and longer day-length: a process that should ensure the highest possible yield.
Now, research by the John Innes Centre has found it’s not just cold weather controlling vernalisation - warm temperatures also affect the transition.
Anna visits a glasshouse full of winter wheat with Laura Dixon, who is leading the research.

A new report has issued a fresh warning over declining pollinator numbers in Great Britain.
Researchers from the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH) assessed records for the presence of 353 wild bee and hoverfly species from 1980 to 2013. They found that one third had seen declines in the number of areas in which they're found.
The results also showed that on average, the geographic range of bee and hoverfly species dropped by a quarter: that's equivalent to a net loss of 11 species from every square kilometre. Anna asks the CEH's Dr Nick Isaac, how the agriculture sector should respond.

Daffs are blooming in the fields - but are there enough pickers to get them to market?

The latest news about food, farming and the countryside

Spring20190330

Charlotte Smith sets out on the perfect spring morning, to find out what farmers are up to as the busy season begins.

At Wykham Park Farm, a mixed farm just outside Banbury in Oxfordshire, she meets Lizzie Colegrave and her parents John and Julia, who run the farm in a partnership.
The arrival of spring is keeping them busy - Charlotte visits the Longhorn and Angus cross cattle herds, the sheep out with their lambs, the asparagus fields where planting is well underway, and the farm shop: where seasonal produce is steadily filling the shelves.

John, Julia and Lizzie also share their thoughts on the potential challenges ahead for sheep farmers and concerns over the growing lack of seasonal labour.

Meanwhile Anna Hill goes for a stroll with Professor Mark Butner from the John Innes Centre in Norfolk, to find out more about his research into the smell of spring; Beatrice Fenton visits Yeo Valley dairy farm in Somerset, to join farm manager Jon Wilson as the cows are let out to grass; and we hear from Lee Abbey, chief horticultural advisor at the National Farmers' Union, about the impact of the agricultural worker shortage on this year's spring flower crop.

Presented by Charlotte Smith; produced by Lucy Taylor.

Has spring really sprung - and if so, what does that mean for farmers?

The latest news about food, farming and the countryside

The Brexit vote, Migrant labour, A warm January, A vegan on a sheep farm.20190115

When a vegan blogger visited a sheep farm, she didn't expect to fall in love with the farmer. Farming Today presenter, Anna Hill, meets the couple and learns how they find common ground in the debate.

Ahead of the Brexit vote in Parliament over the Prime Minister's withdrawal agreement, we look at the consequences for farmers whatever the outcome.

We visit a crab meat factory in Devon, where a shortage of migrant workers has led them to outsource some processing to East Asia.

And, recent warm January weather has allowed some livestock farmers to put their cows out already.

Presented by Anna Hill. Produced by Heather Simons

What happens when a vegan falls in love with a sheep farmer? We find out!

The latest news about food, farming and the countryside

The environmental impact of veganism, Monitoring ammonia on farms, Train drivers hitting livestock20190118

Caz Graham concludes a week of programmes about veganism with a debate about the the environmental impact of different foods.

We join a train driver on a rural line in Scotland, and find out what happens when livestock get onto the tracks.

And can technology designed for use in space help farmers reduce their ammonia emissions?

Presented by Caz Graham. Produced by Heather Simons.

Is a vegan diet really better for the environment?

The latest news about food, farming and the countryside

The food inspection system under pressure, a forest for young people and poultry week begins20181126

A report from the Food Standards Agency says budget cuts and an out of date approach to regulation are hampering their inspections... Those inspections should be checking that places are hygienic and that food is what it says it is and meets food safety and labelling rules. So what needs to change?

Also, we meet some children busy planting trees to form part of a new forest for young people in Derbyshire, and we kick of a week of programming about poultry with an overview of the industry.

Presented by Charlotte Smith. Produced by Heather Simons.

Budget cuts are hampering Food Standards inspections - what needs to change?

The latest news about food, farming and the countryside

Uncertainty over Brexit, the impact of climate change on our oceans and Welsh livestock farmers talk veganism20190117

Anna Hill speaks to farmers in the UK and the EU to gauge their response to the latest political wranglings over Brexit. What does all the uncertainty mean for them?

We hear how climate change is one of the biggest threats facing our oceans and the marine life they contain.

And will a room of Welsh livestock farmers give vegan sausage rolls a try? We find out!

Presented by Anna Hill. Produced by Heather Simons.

Farmers give their response to the political uncertainty over Brexit.

The latest news about food, farming and the countryside

Veganism & Farming20190119

Veganism can be a polarising topic. With this year's 'Veganuary' campaign firmly underway, Charlotte Smith visits a dairy farm in South Wales, to find out whether it's possible for vegans and farmers to have constructive conversations around such an emotive subject.

Abi Reader is a third generation dairy farmer, Vice Chair of the NFU Cymru Milk Board, sits on the Wales Animal Health and Welfare Framework Group and is Chair of Cattle Health Certification Standards.

Tony Wardle is associate director of the animal rights campaign group VIVA and the man behind their in-house magazine - who says his original decision to go vegan was down to his experience of living next to a dairy farm...

Charlotte joins them for a tour of the farm and a frank discussion of dairy farming, agriculture as a whole and the rise of veganism in the UK.

She also hears from Dr Jutta Tobias Mortlock, a senior lecturer in organisational psychology at London's City University, about why this topic is so divisive; and Dr Wayne Martindale, a Lecturer in Food Insights and Sustainability at the University of Lincoln, on what sort of diet has the smallest environmental impact.

Meanwhile Anna Hill visits Bedfordshire, where partners Amanda Veal - a vegan - and Michael Jobson - a sheep farmer - have managed to find some middle ground.

Presented by Charlotte Smith; produced by Lucy Taylor.

Charlotte Smith explores how veganism is impacting food and farming.

The latest news about food, farming and the countryside

Veganuary, A spot of psychology, Clean Air Strategy20190114

Following a plant based diet is a growing trend and increasingly, a business opportunity for UK food producers - with consumers thinking harder about when, why and what they eat... This month has been declared 'Veganury', and all this week we'll be talking about veganism's impact on public perceptions of food and farming - and considering whether it's possible for the opposing sides to have constructive conversations.
Charlotte starts the week by talking to Dr Carys Bennett, from the animal right campaign group PETA.

So what is it that makes the debate around veganism so divisive?
Charlotte asks Dr Jutta Tobias Mortlock, a senior lecturer in organisational psychology at London's City University, why this topic is so polarised.

Today, the government releases its long awaited Clean Air Strategy - and there are going to be repercussions for farmers.
The agriculture sector accounts for 88% of ammonia emissions, which are released into the air during the storage and spreading of manures and slurries, as well as from the application of inorganic fertilisers. Ammonia can damage natural habitats and contributes to smog in urban areas.
To combat all that the government will introduce new rules around slurry management and emissions reduction.
BBC Environment correspondent Matt McGrath shares more details.

Charlotte Smith considers veganism's impact on public perceptions of food and farming.

The latest news about food, farming and the countryside

Vertical Farming, Rare Albion Cattle, Gwent Levels Motorway20190108

There are high hopes for vertical farming, but is it being sold too hard as an answer for feeding future populations? We hear from Nuffield Scholar Sarah Hughes.
Farmer and Countryfile presenter, Adam Henson, has a small herd of Albion cattle, a breed which has recently been added to the Rare Breed Survival Trust watchlist. Sybil Ruscoe visited him for a nerve-wracking pregnancy testing day.
And Mariclare Carey-Jones reports on the proposed M4 relief road near Newport in South Wales and its potential impacts on the Gwent Levels Nature Reserve at Magor Marsh.
Presented by Anna Hill and produced by Beatrice Fenton.

There are high hopes for vertical farming but is it a commercially viable solution?

The latest news about food, farming and the countryside

Water abstraction, Scottish land ownership, seaweed on beaches and scrubland for tree sparrows20190321

Farmers are concerned that the Environment Agency may be given new powers to revoke the licenses they need to abstract water in order to grow crops. We hear from the NFU, which says the plans could mean farmers have licenses removed with little warning and without compensation, to protect wildlife. Meanwhile, conservationists say water is a finite resource which needs to be shared.

A report from the Scottish Land Commission finds land ownership in Scotland has been "abused" and there is an "urgent need" for mechanisms to protect fragile communities from the "irresponsible exercise of power". But Scottish Land & Estates - which represents landowners - says the report focuses too much on land ownership rather than land use, and also fails to adequately reflect the contribution made by rural businesses.

We take a trip to the seaside to hear why a naturalist from Dorset is calling on landowners and councils to stop clearing beaches of seaweed and natural debris.

And as part of our week about woodlands, we hear about new scrubland transforming a chalk down in Wiltshire and providing a lifeline for tree sparrows.

Presented by Anna Hill
Produced by Heather Simons

Farmers fear abstracting water for irrigation could be restricted.

The latest news about food, farming and the countryside

Welfare standards for imported eggs, farm homeless hostel, British woodlands20190318

Egg producers and animal welfare campaigners have joined together in protest over tariff plans for imported eggs. Compassion in World Farming describes it as a warning that ministers' promises on animal welfare after Brexit can't be trusted.
A farmer in Somerset has created a homeless hostel on his farm. 'The Dairy House’ can house up to seven people, and residents can stay for up to three months.
All this week we're going to talk about Britain's woodlands. Trees cover about 13% of the country but the government's Committee on Climate Change would like to see that increase to 19%. Professor Robert MacKenzie, Director of the Birmingham Institute of Forest Research, describes how this could be done.

Presented by Charlotte Smith and produced by Beatrice Fenton.

Warnings that the government's promises on animal welfare standards can't be trusted.

The latest news about food, farming and the countryside

Woodland20190323

We have about 3 million hectares of woodland across the UK, covering about 13% of the land area. It's about half and half conifers and broadleaf woodland...but just 15% of it is classed as ancient woodland.

Fingle Woods on the northern fringes of Dartmoor National Park in Devon, is one of those rare ancient woodlands. But in the 1920s and 30s, much of it was cut down and replaced with conifer plantations. Sybil Ruscoe visits the site with the Woodland Trust's David Rickwood to learn how they are slowly restoring it to it's prime.

Along the way, she meets a team of horse-loggers using heavy horses to remove whole tree trunks from the plantations.

We also hear about plans to re-introduce pine martens in the Forest of Dean to bring down grey squirrel numbers and hear from the Forestry Commission's new writer in residence, Zakiya McKenzie.

Presented by Sybil Ruscoe
Produced by Heather Simons

Sybil Ruscoe visits Fingle Woods in Devon, to learn about ancient woodland restoration

The latest news about food, farming and the countryside

Your Farming Questions Answered20190101

You've sent us your questions about farming - we've had a go at answering them.

The latest news about food, farming and the countryside