Farming Today

BBC Radio 4

The latest news about food, farming and the countryside

read less
ScienceScience

Episodes

20/02/24 Farmer Protests; Prime Minister's funding announcement; Red Tractor; Next generation and family farms.
6d ago
20/02/24 Farmer Protests; Prime Minister's funding announcement; Red Tractor; Next generation and family farms.
The First Minister of Wales says it shouldn't be up to farmers to decide how subsidy money is spent. Mark Drakeford was responding to the ongoing farmer protests in Wales over the Sustainable Farm Scheme. It will see direct subsidy payments phased out and farmers will have to plant 10% of their land with trees while putting a further 10% into wildlife habitats to qualify. We also speak to English farmers protesting at Dover. The government is giving a £220 million funding package to English farmers. The Prime Minister is to make the official announcement at the National Farmers Union Conference. The money will be targeted at grants for technology and productivity schemes. He will also highlight fairness in the supply chain, with new rules for the dairy, pig and egg sectors and the announcement of a review of the poultry sector. Also the 'Farm to Fork Summit' is to become an annual event. The Liberal Democrat's have dismissed the move as a 'cynical pre election giveaway' which won't win back farmers. An independent review into the Red Tractor scheme says that while it is sound and has not breached its own rules, there has been a failure of communication. This is the first of two reviews of the scheme and looks at the organisation's governance. A further report into Red Tractor's future will be published later. We speak to Red Tractor chair Christine Tacon.Farming's next generation is something we're looking at all this week, from the challenges they face to their hopes for the future. The Duncan family run three successful farms close to Loch Lomond. Three of the family's four children now work in the farm operation, and plan to make it their home and livelihood long-term.Presenter = Charlotte Smith Producer = Rebecca Rooney
17/02/24 Farming Today This Week: N.I.'s new minister for agriculture;  Farm support in England; Paper work; Green investment.
17-02-2024
17/02/24 Farming Today This Week: N.I.'s new minister for agriculture; Farm support in England; Paper work; Green investment.
The return of the Northern Ireland Assembly means there's a new man in charge at the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, or DAERA. We speak to Andrew Muir about his priorities.After leaving the EU, the four nations of the UK have decided on different payment systems for farmers. In England the Environmental Land Management Scheme, or ELMS, has several parts to it. The Sustainable Farming Incentive or SFI is part of that. It pays farmers for doing environmental work, like planting hedges or improving soils. Some English farmers felt there was little ‘incentive’ to join it, because payments were too low. However in January that changed. 50 new things farmers could do to attract money were added to the scheme and some payments were increased. We discuss what those were with the Farming Minister Mark Spencer.All week we've been looking at the business side of running a farm. Farmers have long argued that they deal with far too much paperwork. One company set up to help them with form filling says it’s been inundated with requests and believes many farmers feel burdened and isolated by the sheer amount of red tape. Diversification is often key to a successful farm business. According to DEFRA, 69% of farm businesses were engaged in some kind of diversification in 2022-23. We visit a small upland farm in the Lake District to find out how diversification has worked for them.In the Scottish Highlands vast tracts of land and whole estates are being bought as ‘green investments’. Tree planting and rewilding are used to offset carbon. A report for the Scottish Government has tried to quantify the impact of this on rural communities. Presenter = Charlotte Smith Producer = Rebecca Rooney
16/02/24 Small abattoir closure, farm training courses
16-02-2024
16/02/24 Small abattoir closure, farm training courses
Another small abattoir has announced it’s to close its doors for good. McIntyre Meats in Bainbridge in the Yorkshire Dales has been working with local farmers for the last 23 years and is just the latest small abattoir to decide to call it a day. Between 2018 and 2022 the number of small abattoirs processing red meat dropped by a quarter according to DEFRA. Right now in the Cotswolds, a group of farmers are trying to raise three million pounds to save Long Compton Abattoir from closure by buying it themselves. Why does it matter? Well, if you like to buy your meat local, direct from the farm or from a farmers market, the livestock your beef or sausages comes from will most likely have been slaughtered and possibly butchered at a small abattoir. Graham Bottley produces Mutton from his flock of Swaledale sheep in the Yorkshire Dales, and until now, has been using McIntyre Meats regularly We are looking into the business side of farming this week, now for most non-farming companies or organisations, training, appraisal and continuing professional development is the norm. But if you’re a small family farm business, already dealing with rising costs, increasing paperwork, as well as the unpredictability of markets and weather, training courses can come a long way down the priority list. Ernie Richards is a shepherd from Hay on Wye and he argues that taking time out for training courses off the farm is an important investment. Mariclare Carey-Jones has been to meet him.
10/02/24 Farming Today This Week: Protests in Wales; Subsidies in Scotland; Anniversary of cockle pickers tragedy; Working dogs.
10-02-2024
10/02/24 Farming Today This Week: Protests in Wales; Subsidies in Scotland; Anniversary of cockle pickers tragedy; Working dogs.
Farming leaders in Wales have warned of "huge unrest" over planned Welsh government reforms to farm support payments, claiming mass protests are now "more or less inevitable". The Welsh government has urged farmers to participate in a consultation on their plans - which would require farms to have 10% tree cover and manage a further 10% of their land as wildlife habitat in order to access funding in future.  Scotland's farmers will continue receiving most of their existing subsidies for growing food. The Scottish First Minister Humuza Yousaf has announced that 70% of future support in Scotland will be direct payments. This is the Scottish post-Brexit system which will replace the EU's Common Agricultural Policy and is in marked contrast to the new systems being introduced in England and Wales where the vast majority of public money will be paid only for environmental work, and direct payments are phased out. It's 20 years since the Morecambe Bay cockling disaster. 23 people lost their lives after getting cut off by the Bay’s notoriously fast flowing tide while gathering cockles. Those who drowned were Chinese Migrants, illegally smuggled into the country and were working as forced labour for criminal gangmasters. The tragedy paved the way for the creation of the Gangmasters Licensing Authority in 2005 and to this day, anyone supplying workers into the shellfish sector, and into agriculture and horticulture, requires a licence with what is now the GLAA.We visit Glynhynod Farm, which means "Remarkable Valley" in Welsh - a family business making Caerphilly and Gouda and distilling Welsh whisky. Also, what makes a champion sheepdog? We find out from a handler who's worked with dogs all his life.Presenter = Charlotte Smith Producer = Rebecca Rooney
08/02/24 Morecambe Bay cockle picking tragedy: changes to the industry 20 years on; new DAERA minister, working horses.
08-02-2024
08/02/24 Morecambe Bay cockle picking tragedy: changes to the industry 20 years on; new DAERA minister, working horses.
This week marks 20 years since the Morecambe Bay cockling disaster. 23 Chinese migrants lost their lives after getting cut off by the Bay’s notoriously fast flowing tide while gathering cockles. Those who drowned were found to have been illegally smuggled into the country and were working as forced labour for criminal gangmasters. The tragedy paved the way for the creation of the Gangmasters Licensing Authority in 2005 and to this day, anyone supplying workers into the shellfish sector, and into agriculture and horticulture, requires a licence with what is now the GLAA, the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority.The Northern Ireland Assembly has been meeting at Stormont this week for the first time in two years. There’s a whole new executive, finding their desks and their feet, including a new minister for the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs. It’s Andrew Muir, an Alliance party member, who's been visiting Lough Neagh.From sheepdogs to birds of prey, we’re hearing about working animals on the programme this week. The shire horse was the original workhorse, essential for heavy farm work like ploughing before the tractor took over. Today the breed is considered endangered but there are still a few working shires left, like the ones at Hook Norton Brewery in Oxfordshireshire, where they’re used for delivering beer.Presented by Caz Graham and produced by Beatrice Fenton.
06/02/2024 Rural domestic abuse, Microplastics in soil, Birds of prey to control pests
06-02-2024
06/02/2024 Rural domestic abuse, Microplastics in soil, Birds of prey to control pests
One in three women, and one in five men in the UK are affected by domestic abuse according to a recent National Rural Crime Network report - it also found that rural victims of domestic abuse tend to suffer for 25% longer than those in urban areas because of geographical isolation and barriers to accessing help and support. We hear from one woman in rural North Wales where she was the victim of domestic abuse at the hands of her ex-partner, who is now in prison. The presence of microplastics in farmland soil increased by 350% between 1997 and 2005 according to figures in a study by the University of Lancaster. That six-fold increase was largely due to the plastic coatings around fertiliser granules. The study was based on soil sample archives. Another study by the same researchers found the use of plastic to cover crops early in their growing season has also had an impact. We speak to the lead author of the reports.All week we're looking at working animals. Birds such as starlings and feral pigeons can be a real pest for farmers - eating animal feed, seeds and young crops. An increasing number of farmers are turning away from noisy bird-scarers to a different type of pest control and employing falconers to help them deal with the problem. Hawks are trained to be a deterrent for the unwanted visitors without actually doing them any harm. We visit a farm in Shropshire where they’ve been trying out the idea.Presenter = Anna Hill Producer = Rebecca Rooney