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Farming Today


The latest news about food, farming and the countryside

The latest news about food, farming and the countryside


London, United Kingdom




The latest news about food, farming and the countryside




26/07/21 Small farms, Non-viable farm businesses, Water shortage.

There are very big changes ahead in British farming, how will small farms fare when the current system of subsidies is phased out? The Princes Countryside Trust supports smaller farm businesses with a range of programmes. We speak to Lord Curry of Kirkharle, chair of Trustees of the Prince’s Countryside Fund and for many years a farmer himself. More than a third of farmers surveyed by agricultural accountants think their businesses won’t be viable in years to come when basic payments end....


24/07/21 - Mussels, Meadows and Livestock Scares

All this week Farming Today has been hearing about meadows, and today Caz Graham speaks to James Allen who says it is possible to make a living from grazing heritage breeds of livestock on wildflower meadows. Caz has also been in the Westmorland Dales near Kirkby to meet Andrew Walter and find out why hay meadows are a special place. Rebecca Rooney is in the Thames Valley wading through water meadows to find out about a project to preserve these habitats. Ewan Murrie is aboard a boat of a...


23/07/21 - New field sports coalition, Upland meadows, Seed demand

The Game Fair takes place this weekend at Ragley Hall in Warwickshire. Caz Graham talks to Tim Bonner from the Countryside Alliance about the anticipation ahead of the event, and about the launch of a new coalition of rural, shooting and fishing organisations. In the last of our reports from meadows across the country, Caz Graham has been to Bowber Head Farm in the Westmorland Dales. It's a fine example of a traditional upland hay meadow, and a Site of Special Scientific Interest managed by...


22/07/21 - Food standards, Exporting mussels, Wildflower meadows, Paramotor landings

The food assurance scheme Red Tractor is set to announce new standards for farmers that are being brought in from the 1st of November. Caz Graham is speaking to Jim Moseley about how farmers will meet these standards and asks what it might mean for consumers. Ewan Murrie meets a bivalve mollusc farmer who is struggling to trade since the Brexit transition period came to an end. Bob Hockenhall takes a walk through a wildflower meadow in Warwickshire to hear about a new project to boost...


21/07/21 - Badger cull in Northern Ireland, Crop diversification, Water Meadows

A badger cull could be introduced into Northern Ireland to help stop the spread of Bovine TB. But will it work? A new report has brought together the results of fifty-five thousand experiments about crop diversification. Sybil Ruscoe speaks to the report's author. For Meadows week Rebecca Rooney visits a water meadow in the Thames Valley to hear about the benefit these spaces have on yields, biodiversity and productivity, and Sybil asks farmer Olly Harrison about harvesting in this very hot...


20/07/21 - Free farming advice, A meadow nature reserve, Wild verges

A new government fund has been made available to help farmers access specialist advice about how they transition from the old Basic Payment Scheme of direct farm payments, and into the new ELMS scheme, which will give public money for public good. Sybil Ruscoe speaks to the Farming Minister Victoria Prentis about the fund, the advice that will be available, and whether it's the money being promised will be enough. Farmer Tim Hankins has taken part in the pilot scheme and he says it's changed...


19/07/21 Wildflower meadows, giant sequoias, UN report to preserve and protect nature

97% of wildflower meadows have disappeared over the last 100 years, leaving just 1% covering the UK. Why ask why that matters. Nearly 500 saplings of the world’s largest tree, the giant sequoia, have been planted in Brecon. The team behind the project says it'll be the largest plantation in Europe, and that each tree will offset one person's lifetime carbon footprint. A new report by the UN’s Global Diversity Framework aims to preserve and protect nature and its essential services to people....


17/07/21 - National Food Strategy and Agricultural Shows

'A miracle and a disaster' - that's how the modern food system was described this week at the launch of part 2 of the National Food Strategy. Charlotte Smith asks the farming industry what they make of the strategy. With Patrick Holden of the Sustainable Food Trust, Stuart Roberts of the National Farmers' Union, and Sheila Dillon of Radio 4's The Food Programme. HRH the Prince of Wales talks about the need to put nature at the heart of farming and the importance of small family-run farms....


16/07/21 Farm vet shortage, showy sheep, woodland crofts

We hear warnings of a shortage of farm vets which is leaving some farmers without cover. The UK is short of vets and the long hours and pressures of the job are putting newcomers off, particularly in large animal work. The Government has added vets to the shortage occupation list, to make it easier for overseas professionals to work in Britain and two new vet schools have also been set up, but in the short term the lack of vets is causing problems. We’ve been talking about agricultural shows...


15/07/21 - National Food Strategy, the Great Yorkshire Show

The National Food Strategy is released today. Charlotte Smith asks representatives from the farming industry to respond to the report's recommendations. Sheila Dillon has spoken to the report's author, Henry Dimbleby for an edition of The Food Programme which you can hear at 12:30 on Sunday on Radio 4. She says she found much of what she heard really heartening. For agricultural shows week Sarah Falkingham is in Harrogate for the Great Yorkshire Show soaking up the atmosphere and the...


14/07/21 - Carbon neutral chedder, Eradicating scab in sheep, Kent agriculture show

A dairy in Somerset has started producing carbon-neutral chedder cheese as part of a supermarket drive to cut emissions. Richard Clothier tells Anna Hill what changes the dairy has made to production to achieve this fromage first. The sheep industry has decided to make a concerted effort to wipe out a disease which costs the industry more than 200m pounds a year - sheep scab, and Anna asks Nigel Miller what difference this could make. For agriculture shows week Anna Louise Claydon has been...


13/07/23 - Rising food prices, Global food security, Agriculture no-show

A major food and drink organisation has warned that food prices could rise by more than ten percent, owing to worker shortages caused by a combination of Brexit and Covid-19. And the effects of Covid-19 can be seen on access to food across the globe, a new report from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation reveals. It's agricultural shows week, but the pandemic has meant the Royal Welsh has been cancelled and moved online for the second year running, and for some farmers this...


12/07/21 Farm deaths; agricultural shows; animal feed

The number of people killed or injured working on farms has increased by 70 per cent according to figures from the Health and Safety Executive. 34 people lost their lives working in agriculture, forestry or fishing in Great Britain in the year to March - up from 20 last year. That’s 20 times higher than the average across all British industry. The Farm Safety Partnership says farmers just aren't listening. It's a mixed picture for agricultural shows across the UK - some are going ahead, some...


10/07/21 Farming Today This Week: birds, pigs, cages, predators and Thomas Hardy

From turtle dove to stone curlews, many species of farmland birds are in long term decline, hit largely by changes in the way we farm. But some are thriving and there are hopes that the new public money for public goods payments to farmers can build on those successes. We hear calls for predators, like foxes and crows, to be controlled to help protect ground nesting birds. The European Union has pledged to phase out cages for agricultural animals and birds. It follows the European...


09/07/21 - Seed potatoes, feeding farmland birds, pea harvest

The government has decided that seed potatoes can no longer be imported from the EU, after the Brexit agreement meant that British exports of seed potatoes were no longer allowed into the European Union. Anna Hill asks what this will mean for GB growers who up until this point had been exporting around 30 thousand tonnes of seed potatoes to the EU every year, and where the industry might go from here. The humble peas on your plate is the result of a hugely efficient harvest which is run like...


08/07/21 - New payments for soil, A farm haven for birds, Rewilding the Estate

The government has said what it will pay farmers to improve their soils under the new Sustainable Farming Incentive scheme. Anna Hill hears from farmer Richard Heady who is questioning the cost-benefits of implementing the scheme, and she asks Matt Culley from the National Farmers' Union for their response. Paul Murphy reports on an Estate near Lincoln which has plans to rewild 900 acres of arable land. For farmland bird week Bob Walker visits a farm in Nottinghamshire to find out about a...


07/07/21 - Bovine TB vaccination trial, South Downs 'renaturing', Turtle Doves

A new government farm trial is being run where cattle are vaccinated with BCG against Bovine TB. A vaccine does exist, but the problem has always been distinguishing between cattle which have been vaccinated and those which have the disease. Anna Hill asks the UK's Chief Vet Christine Middlemiss, if this is the beginning of the road to vaccinating cattle against the disease. The South Downs National Park has launched a campaign to ‘re-nature’ nearly seventy percent of its land by 2030 and...


06/07/21: Predators and farmland birds, Stone curlew, Farm vending machine

For farmland bird week Anna Hill hears from a farmer who says he has years of evidence illustrating that predator control is a necessary tool in the battle for the conservation of ground-nesting birds. Dr Barry McMahon is from University College Dublin has been studying farmland birds for many years and says predation is now recognised as part of the picture. Rebecca Rooney's been to an RSPB farm in Wiltshire to hear how work on habitat management has yielded an increase in numbers of stone...


05/07/21 Banning caged animal farming; farmland birds.

The European Union has pledged to phase out cages for agricultural animals and birds after a long-running campaign and petition signed by 1.4 million people. The new laws are due to come into force by 2027 and EU farmers will be helped by grants to move to new systems. The government here is currently ‘examining the evidence’ around the issue - so where will this leave the UK’s claim to have the highest animal welfare standards? It's a mixed picture for the fortunes of farmland birds. Some...


03/07/21 - Farming Today This Week: The Sustainable Farming Incentive, the future of arable, the OEP and sugar prices.

Charlotte Smith wraps up a week of farming news, including a trip to Cereals 2021. DEFRA announced some long-awaited details on the Sustainable Farming Incentive this week. That's tier 1 of the Environmental Land Management Schemes - the new system of public money for public goods that’s replacing farm subsidies from the EU in England. We hear from the Secretary of State, George Eustice, who says under the SFI, the Government will give farmers money to employ a vet of their choice to draw up...