Farming Today

Farming Today

United Kingdom

The latest news about food, farming and the countryside


Farming Today This Week: EU legislation and Brexit  

Charlotte Smith discusses how farming and the environment could be regulated post Brexit. Much of agriculture is currently legislated from Brussels - so which of those existing laws should we keep, and which should we ditch? She's joined in the discussion by two MEPs: Molly Scott Cato for the Green Party and Julie Girling for the Conservatives; and by former Environment minister and Welsh Assembly Member Huw Irranca Davies. We also hear from a farmer explaining how the current system of subsidies works for him; and from another who receives funding to improve water quality on his land. Produced by Sally Challoner.

Agriculture in the US Election; National Trust's Tenants; Social Farming;  

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

Environment Secretary, Water regulations, Rural crime, Bernard Matthews sale  

Environment Secretary Andrea Leadsom has had her first grilling from the Environment and Rural Affairs Committee in Parliament. She was asked for progress on what a British Agricultural Policy would look like post Brexit, but said she wouldn't be giving a 'blow by blow' account of negotiations. She did outline her priorities though, including promoting a strong and resilient British food and farming industry, protecting the environment, and strengthening rural communities. Caz Graham visits a scheme in Cumbria where the water catchment is being improved, as part of our look at the areas of farming that are regulated from Brussels. And the latest on the sale of Bernard Matthews. The Competition and Marketing Authority is looking at the deal to sell the company to Ranjit Singh Boparan who also owns the Two Sisters group, which produces about a third of all poultry products eaten in the UK. Presented by Charlotte Smith and produced by Sally Challoner.

New plan for bovine TB in Wales, the future of farm subsidies, Groceries Code Adjudicator, Museum of English Rural Life  

A "refreshed" approach to bovine TB is announced in Wales - will it mean culling? What do farmers think should happen to farm subsidies post-Brexit? The performance of the Groceries Code Adjudicator, Christine Tacon, is being assessed. The government is asking people involved in retailing and farming to give their views on how well the GCA has been working. A museum dedicated to food, farming and the countryside re-opens this morning after a £3m face-lift. Presented by Anna Hill and produced by Beatrice Fenton.

'Hard' Brexit will drive up food prices, says Nick Clegg  

The former Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, warns a 'hard' Brexit will push up food prices, and be bad for UK agriculture. Many fishermen in Lowestoft who voted to leave the European Union are concern that their voices may not be heard during any future fishing deals. A new report out today says organisations representing animal welfare, the environment and food safety have created "deadweight costs" to farming in the EU. Presented by Anna Hill and produced by Beatrice Fenton.

Brexit, Battery storage barns and Peasemeal  

Farmers are being signed up by companies hoping to site energy storage facilities on their land. It could be the next big thing in diversification, with one company offering up to £20,000 a year to use half an acre of land. The barns will be particularly useful for unpredictable renewable energy sources like wind and solar. Nancy Nicolson meets the only producer growing and selling peasemeal - popular in the past but now extinct except in one corner of Scotland. Peasemeal flour is made from yellow field peas that have been roasted. And Charlotte Smith meets Agricultural lawyer Hugh Mercer QC to discuss what aspects of farming in the UK is currently ruled from Brussels - and what might happen post Brexit. Presented by Charlotte Smith and produced by Sally Challoner.

Farming Today This Week - The ecology and economy of UK woodlands  

Britain's woodlands and forests have provided us with fuel, food, furniture and much more since ancient times but in the 21st century they play an important economic and ecological role. The UK Government is pledging that 11 million new trees will be planted during the course of this parliament at the same time that the Woodland Trust says that tree planting is at its lowest level for a generation. Charlotte Smith visits the 38 acre Moreton Wood in Herefordshire and meets owner Jo Morton to find out if small-scale felling can be a profitable and sustainable business. Presented by Charlotte Smith and produced by Vernon Harwood.

World Food Day, Wild ferrets, Sheep vs trees, Shortage of vets  

The British Veterinary Association is warning of a shortage of rural vets, as young graduates steer clear of isolated rural practices. The BVA says changes in working practices - including longer hours to cover customers' demands - is contributing to the shortage. It's hoping its Young Vet Network will help them develop support groups that make rural work less isolated. All this week we're looking at the future of our woodlands. In some areas hill farmers are reluctant to plant trees, as in the past the woodland has spread, taking over vast areas, which has had a significant impact, particularly in Scotland. However there's now cautious support from the National Sheep Association, the National Farmers Union and other farming bodies for partial planting of hill land. And the campaign on Guernsey to have ferrets reclassified as pests. It follows a marked increase in attacks on poultry on the island - which are thought to have been caused by former pets which have since become feral. Presented by Charlotte Smith and produced by Sally Challoner.

Submarine Put Trawler at Risk, Yellow Rust in Wheat & the Gene Bank for Herdwick Sheep  

The Royal Navy has today expressed regret for the incident involving the Northern Irish trawler the Karen which almost capsized after a submarine caught its nets and dragged the trawler backwards for 30 seconds in April last year. But it's been heavily criticised in the accident investigation report saying they had put the lives of the crew at risk. There's an increase in yellow rust with some varieties of wheat less resistant to the disease than previously thought. And the Herdwick sheep being preserved for generations as they donate to the gene bank which was started 15 years ago in order to keep it stocked up for the future. Presented by Charlotte Smith and produced by Trish Campbell.

Bananas, Willow for Electricity, Environment Post-Brexit, Block Calving  

British scientists are asked to find out if Britain's favourite fruit - the banana - can survive the threat from Panama Disease. In Cumbria there's a new market for willow. A large paper mill is contracting farmers directly to grow a 'shrub' species of willow as an energy crop. MPs have been taking evidence on how we should protect the environment post-Brexit. New research from the Agricultural and Horticultural Development Board suggests as much as £3.5 million a week could be saved across the industry, if farmers moved from year-round calving to block calving - which is when it all happens within a few weeks in either spring or autumn. Presented by Anna Hill and produced by Beatrice Fenton.

Fishing in British waters, Ash dieback disease, Olive harvesting  

Four years ago there were shock headlines that the country could lose 90% of its Ash trees to Ash Die-back, a virulent virus which has already struck in Scandanavia and on the continent. The disease is still devastating trees in the South West of Britain, but researchers at the John Innes Centre in Norwich are optimistic about discovering ash trees which have a low susceptibility to the disease. How close are farmers in the UK to being able to grow crops that - until now - have only succeeded in the Mediterranean? In Kent, one determined grower has spent the past six years trying to see if he can take advantage of this- growing his own olives. A new report assesses fishing in Britain's Economic Exclusion Zone. Presented by Anna Hill and Produced by Emily Hughes.

Harvest 2016 results, Tree planting, Russians buying Guernsey ice cream  

The first results for harvest 2016 have been released, and yields are down across much of the UK. Provisional figures from Defra show wheat is down 12% and barley down 10% on last year. It reflects a poor harvest in other parts of Europe and comes just as Russia's grain exports are growing. All this week we're looking at trees - they're a valuable source of home-grown timber, they can store carbon, are home to wildlife, absorb pollution and trees are vital for preventing flooding. Last year the government pledged to plant 11 million trees during this parliament. But the Woodland Trust says tree planting is at its lowest level for a generation. And Vernon meets a dairy farmer who's in talks with the Russians who've got a taste for Guernsey milk and ice cream and want to import some of our dairy cows. Presented by Sybil Ruscoe and produced by Sally Challoner.

Farming Today This Week: Farm workers in a pre and post Brexit Britain  

Farming Today This Week visits a farm in the Cotswolds which is preserved as a trust for the good of the workers. Sybil hears from a Royal Agricultural University academic what options will be available to fruit and vegetable farmers in a post Brexit Britain. Presented by Sybil Ruscoe Produced by Alun Beach.

Bernard Matthews suppliers, Dairy industry, Agricultural Wages Boards  

Former suppliers to the turkey company Bernard Matthews say they'll lose millions of pounds in money owed, after a deal to sell the company meant the new owners won't take on its debts and pension liabilities. The firm's former owners - the investment firm Rutland Partners - turned down an offer from buyers to take on the liabilities. Rutland Partners says it 'invested significant funds into the Bernard Matthews business over the last three years' and was disappointed the firm had continued to struggle. We speak to one farmer who says he's owed £10,000 by Bernard Matthews but may not see any of that money back. Vernon Harwood has been to the Dairy Show at the Royal Bath and West Showground where the talk among farmers is of the gap between the rising global price for milk, and what they're being paid by processors. And - do we still need agricultural wages boards? Some landowners in Scotland want it scrapped. Presented by Charlotte Smith and produced by Sally Challoner.

European farmers' future, Cheese exports to USA, Driverless tractor  

Meat processors in Scotland warn that businesses will close if they're unable to recruit British workers post-Brexit. The industry relies heavily on staff from the EU as so few British workers apply for the jobs in abattoirs and on farms. The Junior Vice-President of the Scottish Association of Meat Wholesalers, Andy McGowan, says there are ten times as many non-UK European applicants for the jobs as British ones. The organic cooperative Omsco is taking advantage of the growth in sales of organic cheese in America, developing a cheddar cheese specially for the US market. Omsco is working with its American equivalent - Organic Valley - to export 2,000 tonnes of cheese. A driverless tractor has been demonstrated in the UK this week. The vehicle uses pinpoint mapping technology developed in conjunction with the Ordnance Survey. A driverless tractor would enable farmers to continue work into the night. Presented by Anna Hill and produced by Sally Challoner.

The future of farm subsidies, badger cull saboteurs, antibiotic resistance in the dairy industry  

Warnings from the Conservative Party conference that farmers will have to convince the public and the government that they deserve to keep their subsidies post Brexit. With one week to go to the end of this year's badger cull, we spend a night with a cull saboteur. And a new survey has found dairy farmers are keen to cut the use of antibiotics in their herds. Presented by Anna Hill Produced by Beatrice Fenton.


Andrea Leadsom addresses the Tory Party Conference on the future of agriculture. Asparagus growers dependent on migrant workers look ahead to an uncertain future post-Brexit. Three years ago, one of the worst blizzards in living memory hit the ranching communities of America's Midwest. We visit to see how they've recovered. Presented by Anna Hill Produced by Beatrice Fenton.

Is a pilot project involving 'pulse fishing' operated by Dutch fishermen 'annihilating' fish stocks?  

There is already concern about the decline of the Grey Partridge; this year, there are further worries that many new chicks won't have survived the wet start to the summer. All this week on Farming Today we're investigating the changing role of farm workers and looking at the future, particularly in light of Brexit. And Dutch fishermen using a controversial trawling technique are being accused of potentially "annihilating" fish stocks. Presented by Charlotte Smith Produced by Trish Campbell.

Farming Today This Week: Livestock Reproduction  

The way farmers breed livestock has come a long way since the days of the communal village bull. Now the collection and export of semen is big business and highly technical. Charlotte Smith visits the Venton Stud near the Devon market town of Totnes to meet Jupiter, a British Blue bull, and witness the collection, assessment and storage of his semen. This genetic material is looked after by Rob Wills and the team at UK Sire Services, an independent bull stud and semen distribution company. The global demand in high quality British bull semen for artificial insemination (AI) is a lucrative one with customers in more than 40 countries and an emerging market in Tristan da Cunha. However, it's not just good news for cattle genetics companies. The expense of exporting live animals has seen an increase in the amount of UK pig semen going overseas, including China, Nigeria and the United States. Presented by Charlotte Smith Produced by Vernon Harwood.

The ethics of editing animal genes, a new study on bovine TB and a new rural chaplain for farmers in the south east  

The Council of Bioethics today publishes its first findings on the impact of advances in genome editing; they're looking at the need for an ethical review of how the technology is used and the need for regulations to govern it. The latest research on Bovine TB uses a mathematical model and questions the extent to which badgers cause TB in cattle; and how modern fish breeding is making the male of the species redundant. Presented by Charlotte Smith Produced by Trish Campbell.

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