Farming Today

By BBC Radio 4

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Arthur
 Sep 28, 2018
Interesting coverage of rural issues and news.

Description

The latest news about food, farming and the countryside

Episode Date
15/08/22 Broccoli crop at risk after water abstraction ban; thin pasture for cows; sheep
691
Farmers in Fife, a prime location for growing vegetables and soft fruit, have had to stop using water from the catchment of the River Eden to irrigate their crops. The National Farmers' Union of Scotland calls it “a devastating blow for vegetable growers.” We hear from a grower who says it'll put his broccoli crop at risk. Some cattle farmers are finding the grass is so dry and thin, there’s just not enough nutrition in it to feed their livestock which means many have been already forced to break into their winter feed stocks, even in the famously lush fields of the West country. And we kick-off our week focusing on sheep with a specialist from SAC Consulting, Kirsten Williams. The sheep industry was worth around £1.3 billion in 2020, according to the National Sheep Association, it’s a mainstay of British farming and it’s facing challenges aplenty. Presented by Caz Graham and produced by Beatrice Fenton.
Aug 15, 2022
13/08/22 Farming Today This Week: Crop fires, Livestock welfare, Rydal Show
1496
As drought is declared across several parts of England, fires have been breaking out on arable farms where the harvest is well underway. Farm insurer NFU Mutual says so far this month it's already received more than 150 reports. We speak to some affected farmers - including one who says she could not call 999 when she first spotted a fire because there was no signal on her mobile phone. The hot weather is also a challenge for livestock farmers - who need to keep animals cool and fed when grass is parched. The British Poultry Council says the extreme temperatures have "led to very high mortality events in some poultry flocks". The campaign group Compassion in World Farming is warning farmers to take extra measures to protect livestock, and is calling on the Government to suspend journeys for farmed animals unless absolutely necessary. And away from worries about the hot dry weather, it's full steam ahead for farm and country shows at the moment. Caz Graham visits the 118th Vale of Rydal Sheepdog Trials & Hound in the heart of the Lake District to see what was happening there. Presented by Caz Graham Produced in Bristol by Natalie Donovan
Aug 13, 2022
12/08/22 - Livestock welfare in extreme hot weather, Rydal Country Show, Glorious 12th: start of grouse shooting season
819
Compassion in World Farming is warning farmers to take extra measures to protect their livestock in these current heat wave temperatures, and is calling on the government to suspend journeys for farmed animals unless absolutely necessary. It’s 12 August, famous in shooting circles as the Glorious 12th because it’s the first day of the red grouse shooting season. Grouse shooting, although not welcomed by all, does provide a welcome injection of cash into some remote rural areas. At this time of year there are farm and country shows right across the UK that can offer a real insight into rural life and traditions, both past and present. Yesterday was a glorious summer’s day for the 118th Vale Of Rydal Sheepdog Trials and Hound Show in the central Lake District. Caz Graham took a look. Presented by Caz Graham and produced by Beatrice Fenton.
Aug 12, 2022
Poor mobile coverage, New Zealand trade deal, Blackcurrant harvest
801
The hot weather has led to more crop fires during this years' harvest - today we hear from a farmer who had to phone 999 but couldn't get through because she had no mobile phone signal. The CLA, which supports rural businesses and landowners, says universal coverage is urgently needed and the network is not fit for purpose. As farmers continue to speculate over how the UK's free trade agreement with New Zealand will affect business, the AHDB has published analysis it has been carrying out with Harper Adams University into the risks and opportunities. It says although the deal is better for farmers in New Zealand, the effect is not likely to be as extreme as some have predicted. Plus we continue our look at the harvest in different parts of the UK - today it's blackcurrants. We hear how the hot weather has damaged some of the fruit, and led to a much earlier harvest. Presented by Caz Graham Produced in Bristol by Natalie Donovan
Aug 11, 2022
10/08/22 - Combine harvester fires, soil science, pea harvest
811
With tinder-dry conditions in many parts of country, fires in farm machinery are at record levels. The insurer NFU Mutual is recording two a day on average - which means that numbers are up by 35%. We hear from a farmer in Buckinghamshire who experienced a combine harvester fire first-hand this week. Caz Graham asks the Farm Safety Foundation what farmers can do to reduce the risk of a blaze. As temperatures rise and our climate changes, experts are warning that the way we grow our food will have to change too. We visit the Allerton Project - a demonstration farm in Leicestershire, where they're researching what that might look like. Continuing a week-long look at this year's harvest, we're out in Lincolnshire with the pea viners. Presented by Caz Graham and produced by Emma Campbell
Aug 10, 2022
09/08/2022 Deer management, Harvest weather, Protein ice-cream
821
The government is launching a consultation on how best to manage deer in England. The deer population of the UK is estimated to have increased from 450,000 in the 1970s to two million today - which is thought to be the highest for a thousand years. Deer have a big impact on woodland, as they can seriously damage trees. They are already culled to keep numbers down. Caz Graham asks the British Deer Society what they make of the government's proposals. Continuing a week-long look at how this year's harvest is going, we get a round-up from four different farmers in the four regions of the UK. While much of England and Wales is struggling with a lack of rain, the situation isn't the same in Scotland. Caz talks to a meteorologist from the BBC Weather Centre to find out about the differing conditions in different parts of the country. We hear about a Leicestershire farm which is helping the NHS to try out a new way of making it easier for hospital patients to get the nutrition they need. Presented by Caz Graham and produced in Bristol by Emma Campbell.
Aug 09, 2022
08/08/2022 - Reservoirs, Vertical farming, Harvest
654
With areas of the UK struggling with drought, we speak to a farm business which has invested hundreds of thousands of pounds building reservoirs to store winter rain ready for summer. One sure way to avoid much of the weather's impact is to grow inside - not just in greenhouses but in vertical farms which look more like warehouses. The Jones Food Company, which specialises in growing this way, has just opened a new research centre in Bristol to trial growing more veg and fruit inside. Harvest 2022 is already around two weeks ahead of previous summers, as the dry weather allows farmers to get out in the fields earlier. We speak to an analyst from the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board about the opportunities and challenges of the heat. Presented by Charlotte Smith.
Aug 08, 2022
06/08/22 Farming Today This Week: Farm tenants, Veg growers, Seasonal worker folk song
1491
The British Growers’ Association, which represents the horticulture and fresh produce industries, is warning of a potential crisis in the sector because of rising costs, water shortages and difficulties finding workers. They’ve just carried out research into carrot and broccoli production and say unless farmers get paid more for their veg, they’ll be forced to stop growing it. As the Environment Agency declares July to have been the driest in England on record since 1935, two farmers in Suffolk tell us how their farms are affected. Is planting into dry ground worthwhile, and should they invest in new irrigation systems? Tenant farmers manage 35% of the UK's farmed land area, and are a vital part of the food growing network, but are facing increasing challenges as land values rise. We speak to a farmer who has is losing a large proportion of the land his family have farmed for 40 years in Northumberland. And we hear the folk song which, it's hoped, will draw attention to the work of migrant seasonal workers. It was commissioned by researchers from the University of Leeds and Oxford, who are running a project called 'Feeding the Nation' to track the experiences of workers throughout the 2020 and 2021 harvests. Presented by Charlotte Smith Produced in Bristol by Natalie Donovan
Aug 06, 2022
27/07/22 - Australian farmers and global food crisis; UK water shortage; "Pint-sized Farmer"
798
Farmers in Australia are used to hot weather and droughts, but they've had a whole series of extreme weather events to contend with lately - including widespread flooding. Anna Hill talks to a spokesman from the National Farmers' Federation in Australia, who explains how the situation there is contributing to the global food supply crisis. Meanwhile the UK's National Drought Group met yesterday. With predictions that by 2050 some rivers could contain between 50 and 80 per cent less water during the summer months, how should farmers be managing their water supplies in the longer term? And we meet the "Pint-Sized Farmer" - who's been using social media to open up a new window on the farming world. Presented by Anna Hill and produced in Bristol by Emma Campbell.
Aug 05, 2022
05/08/2022 - Veg growers, rural crime, gooseberries
806
The British Growers’ Association, which represents the horticulture and fresh produce industries, is warning of a potential crisis in the sector, as input costs spiral and the price they are paid is kept stubbornly low. They’ve just carried out research into carrot and broccoli production and say unless farmers get paid more for their veg, they’ll be forced to stop growing it. As the drought continues in parts of the UK, some farmers are keeping a close eye on their valuable irrigation systems. They’re fast becoming a target for thieves - joining other farm essentials like quad bikes, diesel, GPS systems and machinery parts. This year’s report by the rural insurer NFU Mutual, published this week, says the cost of rural crime is now back up to pre-pandemic levels. We join one farmer in Cambridgeshire who regularly patrols his fields. All week we've been looking at the issues facing tenant farmers. Today we meet a couple who - despite multiple applications - have had no luck finding a new tenancy. They currently rent a farm but the landlord has decided to sell. Gooseberries are often seen as a rather old-fashioned fruit, but they do make good pies! And if you want to find the best gooseberries, Egton Bridge near Whitby is the place to be this week. It's the home to the UK’s oldest gooseberry show which has taken place in the first week in August for 222 years. It attracts gooseberry fans from across the UK. The presenter is Caz Graham.
Aug 05, 2022
Farm Payment extension, Short farm tenancies, Seasonal worker folk song
806
Farmers who currently get the highest level of government support for looking after the environment have been told they will be able to carry those schemes over for a further five years. We ask if that's good news, or if it could mean more delays for farmers transferring to the new Environmental Land Management schemes. We continue our look into Tenant Farming - today we hear concerns that farmers signed up for short tenancies could find applying for those new environmental protection schemes more difficult. Fiona Clampin meets Lewis Steer in Dartmoor. And we hear a new folk song that's been written to pay tribute to migrant seasonal workers. It was commissioned by researchers from the University of Leeds and Oxford who are running a project called 'Feeding the Nation' to track the experiences of workers throughout the 2020 and 2021 harvests. Presented by Caz Graham Produced in Bristol by Natalie Donovan
Aug 04, 2022
03/08/2022 - Soil Health, Tenant Farmers, Dry Farms
821
As the world’s leading soil scientists gather in Glasgow, we hear calls for a total re-think of how we measure soil health. According to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation, a third of agricultural soil is “moderately” to “highly” degraded, threatening global food supplies, increasing carbon emissions and reducing its capacity to hold water. But how do scientists evaluate the health of soil - and is the way they’ve been using the best one? As the Environment Agency declares July to have been the driest in England on record since 1935, two farmers in Suffolk tell us how their farms are affected. Is planting into dry ground worthwhile, and should they invest in new irrigation systems? And all this week we are talking about the issues faced by tenant farmers. Today we're in Gloucestershire with pig farmer Helen Wade, who would like to share her tenanted land with a new farmer. Presented by Caz Graham Produced in Bristol by Natalie Donovan
Aug 03, 2022
01/08/22 - Robots on farms, Tenant farmers
814
A review looking into robots on farms has been published, it calls for more cooperation between academia, business and farmers. It also recommends a longer-term seasonal workers scheme so that agriculture has enough staff while the automation industry becomes more mainstream. We hear from a farm in Cornwall where robots are already being used to plant crops. All this week Farming Today will be looking at tenant farmers. They manage 35% of the UK's farmed land area, and are a vital part of the food growing network. But they face some challenges - from increasingly shorter tenancies to a lack of available land. Council owned farms have also been sold off as the money is needed elsewhere. Charlotte Smith finds out about the difficulties facing tenants. Presented by Charlotte Smith and produced in Bristol by Sally Challoner.
Aug 02, 2022
29/07/22 - Sea eagles, Dutch farmers' protest
785
Scottish MP Angus MacNeil is calling for a cull of sea eagles as farmers and crofters say they are taking more lambs as numbers grow. The bird - with a wing-span of around two metres - was driven to extinction in Scotland, until reintroduction programmes in the 1970s brought them back. Now there are more than a hundred breeding pairs. NatureScot is offering management schemes, including funding extra shepherds to help farmers. But so far there is no compensation for lost revenue, and no plans for a managed cull. Dutch farmers have been making headlines around the world, not for their agricultural produce but intensive protests. Tractors have rolled up outside parliament, blocked supermarket distribution centres and turned up outside politicians' homes. Even Donald Trump has weighed in, in support of the farmers. The demonstrations are against the Dutch government's plans to cut harmful nitrogen emissions to meet climate targets. The farmers argue the government's proposals are unrealistic and unfairly target their industry. The presenter is Charlotte Smith.
Jul 29, 2022
28/07/2022 Music for pigs; drought in Italy; weir demolition
802
As part of our week looking at the global food crisis, we turn our attention to Northern Italy, where in some areas a state of emergency has been declared. Water levels in the River Po have hit record lows, and the largest farmers' union has warned that the drought could threaten more than 30% of agricultural produce. Italy is the EU’s biggest rice producer, and we hear from an agronomist working to make growing rice more sustainable. We report on how a huge engineering project has begun to remove an 18th century weir from the River Nidd in North Yorkshire, to restore the natural life of the river system in the area. And as scientists in Belgium look into the effect music might have on pigs, we hear from a farmer in Suffolk who says classical tunes help to calm his stock. Presented by Charlotte Smith and produced by Beatrice Fenton.
Jul 28, 2022
26/07/22 - Global food crisis; Drought in Eastern England; Vineyard workers
817
Anna Hill finds asks why some countries impose export restrictions on agricultural products, and finds out how political decisions affect the global food crisis. A drought could be declared for parts of Eastern and Central England, where farmers are struggling with a lack of rain. We hear from an estate manager who explains how this is affecting the harvest of some root vegetables. Staff shortages are a big problem in many farming sectors. We visit a vineyard in East Sussex, where they've managed to recruit pickers who live within a 15 miles radius of the farm. Presented by Anna Hill and produced by Emma Campbell.
Jul 26, 2022
25/7/2022 - Beavers, Rabbit farm, Global food crisis
678
The Government has given legal protection to beavers in England, which means it will be illegal to harm or move them without a licence. They have had protection in Scotland since 2019. We hear from a farmer in Scotland who says they do cause problems there, and from the Wildlife Trust which welcomes the protection, but urges the government to provide more details of management practices. A campaign against a controversial rabbit meat and fur farm in Nottinghamshire is being stepped up. Opponents are staging weekly protests outside the site at East Bridgford. But the owners say it complies with all regulations and standards. Last month 12 rabbits were taken from the farm in a late night raid that's now being investigated by police. All week we’re going to be exploring the pressure on food systems around the world and hear why they are under stress. The reasons are multiple and complex – rather like the global food system itself. A deal has been signed to release millions of tonnes of grain from Ukraine – but it will take time for global wheat supplies to get back to normal. There are also high input prices, and the cost of fuel. Longer term, the pressure of climate change on food production and who needs food, keeps building. The presenter is Anna Hill.
Jul 25, 2022
23/07/22 Farming Today This Week: Australian trade deal, farm accidents, livestock feed
1506
A farmer talks about a tragic tractor accident which cost his 4 year old nephew his life. No parliamentary scrutiny for the Australia trade deal - what does that mean for future deals and UK farmers? All week we've been looking at livestock feed. 40% of UK arable land is used to grow feed: the WWF says the system must change to address climate change, biodiversity loss and food security challenges. Presented by Anna Hill and produced by Beatrice Fenton.
Jul 23, 2022
22/7/22 - Farm safety; insects as animal feed; new trade campaign group
809
A farmer talks about a tragic accident which cost his nephew his life, in the hope it'll be a reminder to other farmers not to allow children on farm equipment. Brian Nutter was convicted by the Health and Safety Executive, after allowing his four year old nephew to ride on his digger. In 2017 the UK produced just under 14 million tonnes of feed - but 6 million tonnes of the ingredients were imported, and the cost has risen dramatically. So could the answer be getting animals to eat home-grown insects? In the European Union insects can now be fed to pigs. But the law here in the UK is lagging behind. A company which provides the technology to farm insects is lobbying for this to change. A group of conservationists, farming groups and policy advisers have launched what they call a UK Climate and Trade Commission. It’s been set up by Queen Mary University of London and the Trade Justice Movement, and its 15 members include experts from the United Nations, former senior government officials, environmental and farming groups, businesses and trade unions. Members hope it'll help bridge the gap between trade and climate organisations.
Jul 22, 2022
21/07/2022 No parliamentary scrutiny for the Australia trade deal, Dairy feed
821
The Government has failed to give MPs the chance to debate the trade deal with Australia in the House of Commons. Australia is the first post-Brexit trade deal to be negotiated from scratch. Farmers have objected to its terms; they say it will let in too much beef and lamb produced at standards below those in the UK. Parliamentary scrutiny was promised many times over the last few years. We ask what happened. As part of our week looking at livestock feed, today we hear from a dairy farmer. The recent uncertainty has pushed up animal feed prices which in turn has trickled down to shoppers. Presented by Anna Hill and produced by Beatrice Fenton.
Jul 21, 2022
20/07/2022 EU seeks to restrict crops grown using harmful pesticides, decline in trust in food, homegrown feed
821
The EU is proposing to block the importation of food, grown using the banned pesticides neonicotinoids, in an effort to reduce their environmental impact in other countries. This would be the first time that a World Trade Organisation member used environmental impacts, rather than consumer health, to restrict pesticide use in trade. Alan Matthews, Professor Emeritus of European agricultural policy at Trinity College Dublin, has described the move as 'throwing a hand grenade into global agri-food trade’. Faith in British food has fallen, according to a survey just released by the Red Tractor food standards label. Their annual ‘Trust in Food’ index showed although UK food is trusted more than imported goods, it declined by 8% overall, from last years’ figures. All week we’re talking about animal feed. Most commercial egg producers rely on soya to provide protein for their chickens which they need for laying. Organic farmer Mike Mallett at Maple Farm in Suffolk has 2000 free range birds and he’s rejected soya as a feed. For the last nine years he's been working to give his chickens only home-grown organic feed and he’s nearly succeeded. Presented by Anna Hill and produced by Beatrice Fenton.
Jul 20, 2022
19/07/22 - Sustainability of animal feed, poultry feed processing, the Royal Welsh agricultural show
813
40% of UK arable land is used to grow animal feed, the WWF says the system must change to address climate change, biodiversity loss and food security challenges. After three years of no show it’s full steam ahead this week, as the Royal Welsh agricultural show gets back to business. But after a three-year break due to Covid, and amid warnings of dangerously high temperatures, organisers have admitted this year's event has been one of the most challenging to get up and running. All week we're looking at animal feed. It's perhaps the biggest cost a meat producer faces and those costs have been soaring, and that's certainly true in the poultry industry. We visit a feed processor near Winchester. Presented by Anna Hill and produced by Beatrice Fenton.
Jul 19, 2022
18/07/2022 - Farm heat safety, zero fertilizer, livestock feed
675
With the UK under the first ever red extreme heat warning to be issued by the Met Office, farmers are being warned to take extra steps to keep themselves and their animals safe in temperatures that could reach a life-threatening 40 degrees in some parts. Fields are tinder dry, and machinery - with its hot moving parts, dust and diesel - is already under higher risk of catching fire. We get advice from the Farm Safety Foundation. As the price of fertilizer rockets - largely due to the war in Ukraine - we meet a farmer who's found an unexpected result of growing more environmentally friendly sward is that he doesn't need as much fertilizer, as the plants fix nitrogen in the soil. And this week we look at the UK's animal feed industry. We manufacture sixteen million tonnes of it every year for the nation's cattle, sheep, pigs, poultry and fish farms too. The presenter is Steffan Messenger.
Jul 18, 2022