Farming Today

Farming Today

United Kingdom

The latest news about food, farming and the countryside

Episodes

Lord Plumb on Article 50, bovine TB symposium, potato planting  

The first steps will be taken today on the long road to leaving the EU. We ask a veteran of European Agricultural policy, Lord Plumb, how he sees the future for UK farming. Brian May, the guitarist and animal welfare campaigner has organised a symposium on bovine TB yesterday in London. This is one of the busiest weeks of the year for potato farmers. Potatoes are high risk, capital intensive and require a fair amount of expensive technology and attention to detail to get right. Presented by Anna Hill and produced by Beatrice Fenton.

New GM wheat trial, early asparagus, ghost fishing gear  

A new GM wheat trial is planted in Hertfordshire which could increase yields significantly. But objectors say the money should be spent on getting more food to poor people around the world. Asparagus is an iconic British spring crop. Its short-lived season traditionally starts on St George's Day, the 23rd of April, and runs through until June. But a farmer in Herefordshire has invested in 60 acres of polytunnels, to start the season off early. Springtime in Cornwall brings a bloom of plankton at sea, and that attracts sand-eels, which in turn are eaten by dolphin and other marine life. Unfortunately the dolphin and larger fish along the Cornish coast are getting tangled-up and killed by discarded fishing equipment, know as ghost gear. Presented by Anna Hill and produced by Beatrice Fenton.

Neonicotinoids, rural pubs and spring on the farm  

The row over neonicotinoids has taken a new twist with leaked documents suggesting an outright EU-wide ban on their use in field crops. Damian Carrington of The Guardian has seen the unpublished European Commission documents and thinks the controversial pesticides could be outlawed by the end of the year. The village pub has always been popular but now researchers say there is proof that a rural watering-hole has positive effects on the community. A team from Newcastle Business School and Leeds University looked at 300 parishes and discovered better social cohesion if there was a local pub. The findings are being welcomed by campaigners in the Yorkshire village of Kirkby Malzeard who are campaigning for the re-opening of a favourite hostelry. The clocks have gone forward and spring is in the air. traditionally this is the time of year when farming gets underway again in earnest. But some farmers, particularly in East Anglia and the North of England, say wet conditions are hampering work on arable fields and delaying spring grazing for livestock. Presented by Charlotte Smith. Produced by Vernon Harwood.

Farming Today This Week: Farming post-Brexit  

Charlotte Smith hosts a debate about the future of food, farming and the environment post-Brexit. It comes at the end of a week of special programmes, where we've gathered the views of some big names who have a passion for the subject. During the week we've spoken to Princess Anne, the food critic Jay Rayner, Eden Project co-founder Sir Tim Smit, author Germaine Greer and Wetherspoons founder Tim Martin. Today we hear highlights from those interviews, with a panel discussion around the ideas raised. Produced by Sally Challoner.

Food critic and author Jay Rayner on his ideas for a post-Brexit rural economy  

Author and food critic Jay Rayner tells Charlotte Smith why he believes it's time for a completely fresh look at food production post-Brexit. He wants to see producers and retailers taking their 'carbon footprint' into account as part of pricing and labelling, right along the food chain. He'll say we'll see the end of ultra cheap food as we've known it in recent decades, but the future of the planet depends on us cutting down on foods that harm the environment. If subsidies to farmers continue he says they should only be to reward progress on environmental or wildlife stewardship. This is part of a special week of programmes on Farming Today that are exploring the environmental and farming opportunities that will come with Brexit featuring a line-up of special guests. During the week Princess Anne, Germaine Greer, Tim Martin, Jay Rayner and Sir Tim Smit will each explore some of the issues close to their heart relating to how we could look after our countryside, environment and produce food. Produced by Sally Challoner.

Princess Anne on food and farming post-Brexit  

Anna Hill meets the Princess Royal at Buckingham Palace to discuss food, farming and environmental opportunities in the next couple of years. Princess Anne, who farms in Gloucestershire and is a patron of many rural charities, talks about biofuels, the use of science and technology in farming and what kind of subsidies could help farmers in the future. She explores whether support should also be used to enable producers to grow food 'staples' at a reasonable cost so that all consumers can afford them. This is part of a special week of programmes on Farming Today that are exploring the environmental and farming opportunities that will come with Brexit featuring a line-up of special guests. During the week Princess Anne, Germaine Greer, Tim Martin, Jay Rayner and Sir Tim Smit will each explore some of the issues close to their heart relating to how we could look after our countryside, environment and produce food. Produced by Sally Challoner.

Wetherspoons founder Tim Martin on UK food production post-Brexit  

Wetherspoons pub chain founder Tim Martin tells Anna Hill that UK food and farming will thrive post-Brexit, even without a tariff-free deal from Europe. But he does want to see controlled immigration, which he says is vital for the economy. Mr Martin famously campaigned for Leave in the Referendum by printing anti-EU messages on half a million beer mats. Now he says new trade deals won't put UK farmers at risk, either because consumers won't buy cheaper, lower quality meat and veg, or because our government won't allow it in. This is part of a special week of programmes on Farming Today that are exploring the environmental and farming opportunities that will come with Brexit featuring a line-up of special guests. During the week Princess Anne, Germaine Greer, Tim Martin, Jay Rayner and Sir Tim Smit will each explore some of the issues close to their heart relating to how we could look after our countryside, environment and produce food. Produced by Sally Challoner.

Eden Project founder Sir Tim Smit on a post-Brexit agricultural landscape  

Eden Project founder Sir Tim Smit says we'll need a revolution in attitudes to producing food if we're to protect food security in the UK post-Brexit. He criticises our current leaders who, he claims, 'look down their noses at farming'. Food production will be the most important profession as the global population moves towards 9 billion, and we need to be inspiring the next generation of producers. He wants leaders who will make it 'rock and roll'. This is part of a special week of programmes on Farming Today that are exploring the environmental and farming opportunities that will come with Brexit featuring a line-up of special guests. During the week Princess Anne, Germaine Greer, Tim Martin, Jay Rayner and Sir Tim Smit will each explore some of the issues close to their heart relating to how we could look after our countryside, environment and produce food. Producer Sally Challoner.

Germaine Greer on post-Brexit agriculture  

Author Germaine Greer tells Charlotte Smith why protecting our wildlife, pollinators and natural habitats will be so important as the UK enters negotiations for post-EU trade deals. The journalist - who famously bought a redundant Australian dairy farm and turned it into rainforest - is President of the charity Buglife. This is part of a special week of programmes on Farming Today that are exploring the environmental and farming opportunities that will come with Brexit featuring a line-up of special guests. During the week Princess Anne, Germaine Greer, Tim Martin, Jay Rayner and Sir Tim Smit will each explore some of the issues close to their heart relating to how we could look after our countryside, environment and produce food. Produced by Sally Challoner.

Farming Today This Week: The war on plant pests and diseases  

A constant battle is being fought to keep Britain's trees, plants and farm crops safe from infection and infestation. In fact, the lead researcher at the Royal Botanical Gardens in Kew, Dr Richard Buggs, says plant health is a major concern, especially as we prepare to leave the European Union. But as this week's Plant Biosecurity Conference in York heard, there's a great deal of work going on to safeguard species in the UK. Scientists are finding natural ways of dealing with pests and diseases that have become resistant to traditional chemicals. Meanwhile as more foreign and exotic plants prove popular at garden centres, strict protections are in place to make sure our native flora, stay healthy. In the Vale of Evesham, students at Pershore College are discovering how innovations such as vertical farming, soilless growing and drones can keep plants strong and sturdy. Presented by Sybil Ruscoe. Produced by Vernon Harwood.

Equine economy, dog poo bags, biosecurity post Brexit  

The value of the equine industry to the economy is measured in millions of pounds. For every horse kept in livery there are many rural people employed in servicing it as well as its owner. There has been a huge listener reaction to our report on dog poo disposal. And we report on the future of biosecurity post Brexit Presented by Sybil Ruscoe Produced by Alun Beach.

Dog poo, biorational pesticides, hedgerow conservation, Scottish peatland  

Dog poo in little black plastic bags left by walkers is a blight on the countryside, but farmers are alarmed at suggestions the offending matter should be left to rot naturally. They say the faeces can carry diseases that cause cows to abort their calves and want dog walkers to bag the poo and bin it, preferably a long way away from their fields. Scientists aim to find natural ways of dealing with pests and diseases that have become resistant to traditional chemicals. A project aimed at improving the country's hedgerows is about to be launched. And a multi-million pound project is restoring peat bogs in Scotland. Presented by Sybil Ruscoe Produced by Alun Beach.

Brexit Bill, Natural flood management, Potato pests  

Agriculture may need its own Brexit bill to be passed by 2020, but is DEFRA up to it? Can planting trees reduce the worst flooding? We hear how the science is inconclusive. Emily Hughes visits Harper Adams University to find out about the biological pesticides they're developing to try to control potato cyst nematodes. Presented by Caz Graham and produced by Beatrice Fenton.

Farming and the countryside after Brexit, Garden centres, the Norfolk Broads  

Can DEFRA survive in the post-Brexit world? It's one question on the whole future of British farming and the countryside being put forward by a University of Newcastle professor who wants a public debate on the way ahead. As more foreign and exotic plants prove popular at UK garden centres, strict protections are in place to make sure the public, and our native flora, are safe from pests and disease. Plant breeders, agricultural engineers and farm vets have come together to demand a voice in the UK's negotiations over leaving the EU. The new Agri-Brexit Coalition says the views of professionals who help and support farmers shouldn't be overlooked. There's a new beginning for one of Norfolk's famous waterways. Hoveton Great Broad has suffered severe pollution due to farm and sewage contamination over the past forty years but restoration is underway. Presented by Anna Hill. Produced by Vernon Harwood.

Jam and chutney, Cattle fraud, Plant pests and diseases  

Today we begin a week long look at plant pests and diseases. First up it's Dr Buggs! Richard Buggs is the lead researcher at Kew Gardens and he's concerned about bio-security post-Brexit. Our Northern Ireland Farming Correspondent, Connor Macauley reports on a disturbing case from County Tyrone where a fraudulent cattle dealer preyed on a vulnerable 83-year-old farmer and put the food chain at risk by selling diseased cattle. A chef in Bristol is using waste food to produce tasty chutney for homeless people - Farming Today's Lucy Taylor joins her in the kitchen. And as we wake up from winter into spring - we'll have the Farming Today 5-day Forecast from the BBC Weather Centre.

Farming and Pollution  

What are the links between farming and pollution? Charlotte Smith finds out with the help of University of Reading staff who discuss methane, ammonia and nitrate runoff. It's part of the BBC's 'So I Can Breathe' season, which is examining possible solutions to the problems caused by air pollution. And, as we hear, whilst farming contributes enormously to UK pollution issues, there are attempts to also offer solutions. Professor of Climate Processes, Bill Collins explains how farm pollution - particularly ammonia - mixes with vehicle emissions such as diesel particulates and industrial pollutants that together are harmful to health. He also explains the role of methane as a greenhouse gas. Dairy specialist Professor Chris Reynolds shows Charlotte their experiments at the University's Centre for Dairy Research (CEDAR) which grows species-rich grasses for cattle which cut down the need for dressing the land with nitrogen. He's joined by his colleague Dr Martin Lukac who explains why this can lead to reduced runoff of pollutants into water courses. Presented by Charlotte Smith and produced by Mark Smalley.

Environment Agency pollution investigations, history of ploughing, Brexit and Ireland  

Last summer pollution to the River Leadon resulted in the death of fifteen thousand fish. The Environment Agency described it as one of the worst incidents in the county and launched an investigation. However, eight months later the agency say they are still unable to give any further information on the case. Anglers say the Environment Agency is increasingly unable to investigate or prosecute incidents of river pollution. The Angling Trust tells Farming Today it may sue the agency over the lack of action in this case. It says the agency hasn't got enough resources and is too often applying a light touch approch to prosecutions. In response the EA say their prosecutions have a good success rate because they take the time to prepare the most robust case possible. The Farming Minister George Eustice has told MPs that he doesn't yet know how much of agricultural policy will be devolved to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland once we leave the European Union. As we've reported it's a matter of much debate, with devolved administrations wanting to hold onto the powers they currently have and to absorb more once we leave the Common Agricultural Policy. There is particular concern on both sides of the border in Ireland where complex supply chains will need to cross from North to South. This week George Eustice told MPs on the Environment Food and Rural Affiars Committe that DEFRA is looking to other countries with cross border supply chains for inspiration. But cross border issues aren't the only worry for Irish farmers - those in the South say the Brexit effect has already kicked in and is costing them money. The president of the Irish Farmers Union Joe Healey tells Farming Today that the impact of Brexit on Irish farmers can't be underestimated. There are plenty of modern gadgets and technology about today, for farmers to hanker after - but there's one agricultural tool that's been around since the days of oxen and Clydesdales, that they still rely on: and that's the plough. Nancy Nicholson visits world champion ploughman Andrew Mitchell. Presented by Charlotte Smith and produced by Emily Hughes.

UN report on pesticides, Hare coursing in Scotland, Budget and rural pubs  

The latest news about food, farming and the countryside. Presented by Charlotte Smith and produced by Mark Smalley.

Fishing accidents and drug use, Farm pollution and slurry, International Womens' Day  

Evidence of fishermen taking drugs while working out at sea - putting their lives at risk in one of the most dangerous jobs in the UK. It's already the most dangerous peacetime profession - but now a BBC Inside Out investigation has uncovered evidence that some fishermen are upping the risk by taking drugs at sea.Post mortem results and searches of certain vessels have shown hard evidence of abuse of amphetamines, cannabis and heroin. Steve Clinch of the Marine Accident Investigation Branch expresses concern. This week Farming Today's taking a closer look at pollution in the countryside, as part of the BBC's So I Can Breathe season. Agriculture is one of the primary sources of ammonia - it accounted for 83% of emissions in 2014. Ammonia is released from the soil, fertilizers and livestock manure. Farmers can reduce ammonia releases by injecting farmyard slurry into soil rather than spreading, and by covering up slurry stores. DEFRA's currently giving grants to help farmers cover their slurry - Emily Hughes meets David Cotterel, farm manager at Kingston Maurward College in Dorset, to hear why he's applied to the scheme. And on International Women's Day - we hear from Syrian food producer Razan Alsous who fled the country's civil war in 2012. She's since become an award-winning maker of Yorkshire Dama Cheese. Presented by Anna Hill and produced by Mark Smalley.

British sugar production, free range milk and paying for pollution.  

Shifts in the sugar market: should British supermarkets stock UK grown sugar to give consumers a choice? A Norfolk farmer responds to Tesco's decision. Also, free range milk makes it onto the shelves of a major retailer for the first time; and in our series on pollution, we look at how businesses found guilty of polluting the environment are choosing to pay fines to environmental charities. Presented by Anna Hill and produced by Chris Ledgard.

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