Farming Today

Farming Today

United Kingdom

The latest news about food, farming and the countryside


Dairy farmers speak out in reaction to BBC 1's Countryfile, Scotch whisky, Cotswold Way online  

Dairy farmers speak out in reaction to BBC 1's Countryfile, which reported that thousands of bull calves in dairy herds are being shot at birth. Farmers say it's just not the case. We hear from the programme's producer. Not all Scotch whisky is made with Scottish grain, and one Fife farmer believes it's time the industry was honest about the provenance of the ingredients on the bottle's label. Walking routes such as the Cotswold Way in the west country have now been photographed and uploaded to Google Street View. Presented by Caz Graham and produced by Beatrice Fenton.

Contaminated egg scandal, crofting in Scotland  

As the contaminated egg scandal widens, there are concerns about the future of food safety post-Brexit. We hear from Professor Erik Millstone and the British Egg Industry Council. Crofting in Scotland has enjoyed a real renaissance in recent years. But in less accessible areas, once valued croft land lies abandoned and covered in weeds. Presented by Caz Graham and produced by Beatrice Fenton.

Gamekeeper turned crime-fighter, Scottish agriculture, Grouse shooting  

On the day the insurance company, NFU Mutual, releases its statistics on rural crime, we hear from the game-keeper turned crime-fighter in Hertfordshire. Starting a week focusing on Scotland, Euan McIlraith weighs up how Brexit might impact on the country's wide and diverse farming community. The grouse-shooting season began on Saturday with the traditional 'Glorious Twelfth', but as Kevin Keane reports, low bird numbers have forced some estates to delay their start. Presenter: David Gregory Kumar Producer: Toby Field.

Farming Today This Week: Salmon farm  

Rounding up a week of programmes focussing on salmon, Farming Today This Week visits a salmon farm at Loch Leven near Glencoe. Salmon farming in Scotland is only around 40 years old, but in that time the sector's grown from producing 14 tonnes of farmed salmon back in 1971, to around 170,000 tonnes today. But the industry is not without its critics: there are environmental concerns about the effect of sea lice, which can proliferate in densely stocked salmon cages, and the impact of pollution on sea lochs. Many opponents also question the sustainability of the industry, and want to see fish farmed in closed containers rather than open water. In this programme, David Gregory-Kumar puts some of those concerns to Steve Bracken from the UK's largest salmon-producing company, Marine Harvest. Presented by David Gregory-Kumar. Produced by Emma Campbell.

Slaughterhouses, Fisherman training, Smoked Salmon  

A new course is training youngsters in Cornwall interested in a career at sea to become fishermen in an attempt to entice new blood into the industry. Gareth Barlow visits a traditional smoked salmon producer in East London which has gained PGI status for its London cure. Presenter: David Gregory Kumar Producer: Toby Field.

Egg fraud, Shepherd's guides, Salmon in the River Taff  

After millions of eggs are withdrawn are recalled in Europe over fears they're contaminated with a pesticide, there are now fears that poultry meat could be affected too. David Gregory Kumar asks Professor Christopher Elliott, Director of the Institute for Global Food Safety at Queens University Belfast about the impact this might have. Caz Graham has been to meet Barry McKay who collects antique Shepherd's Guide about an 1821 edition which has come to auction, and why they're still used today to identify and track stolen sheep. After two hundred years, a group of volunteers have restored migratory routes on the River Taff allowing salmon to return. Mariclare Carey Jones reports. Presenter: David Gregory Kumar Producer: Toby Field.

Small farm decline, insects for aquaculture, egg vending machine  

A new report looks into the future of small farms. Caz Graham finds out the details. A new EU law permits fish farmers to feed insect meal to their stocks alongside the more usual diet of fish meal, which could offer a more sustainable food source for the future. Howard Shannon reports. The honesty box is a staple of farm gates across the countryside, but as one farmer in Norfolk found out the practice of leaving money for fruit, veg or eggs doesn't always live up to the theory. With an increased focus on mental health, Mariclare Carey Jones has been to visit a care farm which offers vulnerable people a chance to experience farm life and switch off from the tribulations of modern life. Presenter: Caz Graham Producer: Toby Field.

Soil health, Salmon and river pollution, New varieties of apples and pears  

Farming Today reports on new research showing how climate change could lead to greater pollution of rivers from fertiliser run-off. Professor Phil Haygarth from Lancaster University says there will need to be changes in agricultural practices to prevent nutrient loss from farmers' fields. A report on the River Wye shows how farmers and conservationists are working together to prevent the problem. And dozens of new varieties of apples and pears have been discovered in Wales. Presented by Caz Graham Produced by Alun Beach.

Salmon Farming, Farm magazine, Lake District Farming Officer  

Farming Today embarks on a week of pieces looking at salmon. In today's programme we hear about the pros and cons of salmon farming. Scott Landsburgh from the Scottish Salmon Producers Organisation explains why the farmed salmon industry is so important to the Scottish economy, and Guy Linley-Adams from Salmon and Trout Conservation Scotland puts forwards some of the arguments against producing salmon in this way. Briony Davey is the first-ever Farming Officer for the Lake District National Park. Presenter David Gregory Kumar asks her what she hopes to achieve in the role. Toby Field's been to meet Mike Donovan who has been producing the magazine Practical Farm Ideas for twenty-five years. Producer: Toby Field.

Farming Today This Week: Price of Food  

Tom Heap hosts a panel debate about the price of food, in front of an audience at Countryfile Live. Does the price we pay for our food reflect its true cost? Is the drive to produce cheaper food compromising quality and leading more food waste and lower animal welfare standards? Is it really possibly to have both quality and affordability? And how can we make sure farmers get paid a fair price for the food they produce? On the panel: Andrew Blenkiron, vice chairman of Assured Food Standards - the scheme which runs the Red Tractor logo; Professor Tim Lang from the Centre for Food Policy in London; Kathleen Kerridge, a journalist who writes about the difficulty of bringing up a family on a decent diet and a tight budget; and David Main, professor of animal welfare at the University of Bristol. Presented by Tom Heap and produced by Emma Campbell.

TB in Cumbria, Trade after Brexit, Dutch Cow cull  

Cumbria has had its first reported outbreak of TB in almost thirty years. David Gregory Kumar speaks to Penny Middleton from National Farmers Union Scotland to ask whether farmers there should be concerned that the disease will spread over the border 30 miles away. Agricultural trade has been in the headlines recently as the UK weighs up how to deal with other countries post-Brexit. Emma Jones from agricultural and environmental consultants ADAS, explains which deals are being explored now and which markets might open up in the future. There are so many cows in the Netherlands that the manure produced has pushed the country over its phosphate limit set by the European Union. The Government has taken urgent action to reduce the size of the herd. Ruth Sanderson reports from Utrecht to find out why such a drastic policy was necessary. Price of Food feature: Ben Jackson meets Graeme and Viv Matravers, and Carol and Paul Ikin, farmers who are less interested in the cost of their end product, and more concerned with their consumers buying into the way that they farm. Producer: Toby Field.

Rural crime, Sugar beet factory, Farm shop marketing  

With a sheep farm in Oxfordshire becoming the latest victim of meat thieves, Julia Mulligan, Chair of the Rural Crime Network, explains how they can help farmers protect their livestock. There's a proposal for a new Sugar Beet processing plant to be built in Knaresbrough in North Yorkshire, helping to create up to 300 jobs. Ian Reeve has been to gauge reaction. In our look at the price of food, Howard Shannon finds out whether farm food businesses can boost their bottom line by offering a premium shopping experience and pricier products. Presenter: David Gregory Kumar Producer: Toby Field.

The true cost of food, global hop shortage, drone regulation  

The true cost of food: should farmers be taxed on their impact on the environment? Patrick Holden, founding Director of the Sustainable Food Trust, says the price of food should reflect the environmental impact of producing it. The German hop harvest is hit by a drought. We hear how this will affect British hop growers. A growing number of farmers use drones, both for monitoring crops and even assessing things like soil fertility. The government has announced plans to regulate their usage across the UK. Presented by Caz Graham and produced by Beatrice Fenton.

Small Farms Research, Game Fair, Sewage Meadows, Pig Production  

Why bigger isn't always better: we hear about a new report in praise of small scale farming. The UK's largest annual gathering for anyone interested in field sports, the Game Fair, includes everything from debates on what a post Brexit UK Wildlife and Countryside Act should look like, to shooting, fishing and even a hunting horn blowing competition. Former sewage lagoons in Northern Ireland have been transformed into a wildflower meadow in a unique project in County Armagh. Around 60% of the pork produced in this country is from pigs kept indoors. Many live on deep straw but around a third are on bare concrete or plastic slats. Both meet UK welfare standards and both command the same price from retailers and processors - but should they? We speak to one farmer running parallel systems to compare costs. Presented by Caz Graham and produced by Beatrice Fenton.

The price of food, TB testing for goats, knowledge of the countryside.  

This week Farming Today is focusing on the price of food: not simply in monetary terms, but also looking at the value and priorities we ascribe to the consumables we buy today. Christopher Ritson is an Emeritus Professor of Agricultural Marketing at the University of Newcastle; he's been speaking to Charlotte Smith about what effects food prices, and how that impacts and influences both producers and consumers. Bovine TB continues to be a major issue for farmers across the UK, and though we mainly talk about cattle they're not the only livestock susceptible to the disease. Increasingly, species such as alpacas and goats are being TB tested as part of control efforts - and as with cattle, any reactors must be culled as part of disease control measures. Sarah Swadling has been hearing how an irreplaceable herd of Cashmere goats in Devon, owned by Lesley Prior, became caught up in the TB testing system. It's National Countryside Week and The Prince's Countryside Fund has released a report on the public's relationship to and knowledge of the countryside - which indicates that for 20% of people, the main source of rural knowledge is TV or radio rather than actually visiting the countryside. Chairman of the Fund, Lord Curry, explains why it's so important to address this disconnect.

Farming Today This Week: Wales  

Charlotte Smith visits a family-run farm in Monmouthshire who found a market supplying Saddleback pigs for charcuterie. Maurice Trumper and his Son Martyn run Pant-y-Beiliau Farm, a mixed farm of sheep, cattle and pigs. They love their Saddleback Pigs and were delighted when Trealy Farm charcuterie offered them the higher-price they needed to keep breeding and raising these iconic animals. When asked about retirement Maurice, who is in his 80s, says "What would I do? This is my life." and they describe how they continue to manage the farm together, and discuss the challenges faced by small family farms in general and in light of Brexit. Charlotte also visits Trealy Farm to discover how it was eating Saucisson in France as a boy that gave James Swift the idea of producing charcuterie using British breeds and how the story and provenance of the meat is crucial to the success of his product. James also talks about the growing export market to the Middle East using produce made from Welsh beef and Lamb. Joining the discussion is John Richards, the Industry Information Executive for HCC (Meat Promotion Wales) to give an overview of the market and how Brexit could impact on the future of Welsh lamb. There are also reports from Lucy Taylor about Welsh Black Cattle and from Steffan Messenger from the Royal Welsh Show which took place earlier this week. Producer: Toby Field.

EU migrant investigation, antibiotic research, Welsh water bottling.  

Farmers are demanding 'clarity' from the government on what its immigration policy will mean for seasonal workers from the EU. It comes after home secretary Amber Rudd announced an investigation into the contribution EU migrants make to the UK, with a final report due in September 2018 - and set to shape immigration policy. So what happens in the meantime for sectors such as food and farming, which rely heavily on seasonal labour from the EU and are now reporting problems attracting staff? Farming Today asks Ali Capper, a grower of hops and apples and chairman of the NFU's board for Horticulture and Potatoes. New research into how people use antibiotics has found that the traditional way we take them, completing a strict course of the drugs, could actually be contributing to higher antibiotic resistance rather than preventing it - so what might that mean for animals? Charlotte Smith finds out from the British Veterinary Association's John Fishwick. This week the Farming Today focus is on Welsh food and farming. Many farms in Wales are small and family run - and developing additional sources of revenue can be essential for the business to survive. One young farmer on Anglesey has overseen a diversification that's slightly out of the ordinary: Dafydd Thomas sells bottled water that comes from a spring in the family fields. BBC Wales' Chris Dearden went to meet him.

Compulsory purchase, Welsh Black cattle, Lavender farm  

There are warnings of more compulsory purchase of farmland to make way for housing and large-scale infrastructure projects. Charlotte Smith speaks to Jeremy Moody from the Central Association of Agricultural Valuers about the impact this could have on the farmers affected. Lucy Taylor reports on the popular Welsh Black Cattle and plans farmers have to increase the reputation and sales of this authentic Welsh meat, and David Dixon meets Mark and Sam Hall-Digweed who gave up their day jobs to create a Lavender farm in Cornwall. Producer: Toby Field.

Hedgecutting ban, Welsh hill farming, Christmas turkeys  

A petition has been delivered to the DEFRA by a group of farmers hoping to change the current rules on when hedges can be cut. To comply with European rules designed to protect birds and wildlife, farmers can't cut their hedges between the 1st of March and the 1st of September. Farmers say they want to be able to cut a month earlier, during harvest time. Welsh upland farms require specialist knowledge to get the most out of the land, and in many cases that expertise has been passed down through families for generations. But there are fears the young will look to other careers in the future. It's only 151 days to Christmas! Turkey producers have already got this year's birds growing ready for the table. Presented by Anna Hill and produced by Beatrice Fenton.

Animal welfare post-Brexit, Royal Welsh Show, Farm opera, Belvoir Harvest  

Brexit may bring cheaper food imports but they could come at the cost of farm animal welfare standards, a House of Lords environment committee report concludes. Today we are at the Royal Welsh Show in Builth Wells, where the future of a Welsh agricultural policy has dominated the agenda. Harvest 2017 is the earliest for many years, following the dry hot weather last month. Ben Jackson met up with Belvoir Estate manager Phil Burtt, on the 4000 acre estate in Leicestershire. Presented by Anna Hill and produced by Beatrice Fenton.

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