6 episodes

The latest news about food, farming and the countryside

Farming Today BBC

    • Science

The latest news about food, farming and the countryside

    28/09/21 - Visas for poultry workers, vet retention, vet shortage

    28/09/21 - Visas for poultry workers, vet retention, vet shortage

    The farming and food industries are facing an unprecedented lack of workers which is putting pressure on the whole food chain - from growing, to harvesting, to distribution. After months of mounting pressure, the Government has agreed to allow 5,500 workers in from abroad, on three-month contracts, to work in the poultry sector in the run up to Christmas. There will also be visas for 5,000 HGV drivers. So how much difference will it make and will people want to take up the visas? Anna Hill hears from Traditional Norfolk Poultry, which produces 100s of thousands of free range and organic turkeys for Christmas on farms across East Anglia.

    We hear what farm veterinary practices are doing to try and improve the retention of people in the profession.

    And the British Veterinary Association has long been warning of a shortage of vets - so has the including of vets on the "shortage occupation list" helped?

    Presented by Anna Hill
    Produced for BBC Audio in Bristol by Heather Simons

    • 13 min
    27/09/21 - Labour's "rural renaissance", ancient grains, jobs in food and farming

    27/09/21 - Labour's "rural renaissance", ancient grains, jobs in food and farming

    A "countryside renaissance" plan will be launched by the Labour party at its conference. What they’re calling a "ground breaking strategy" for rural England would replace what Labour describes as the "floundering" rural proofing approach of the current Government, if Labour won the next election. Charlotte Smith hears from the Shadow Environment Secretary, Luke Pollard.

    Many older crop varieties fell out of favour as they just can’t compete commercially with the yields from more modern varieties. Some have been lost but others are being kept going by enthusiasts. We meet the Swedish man, scything ancient Hebridean grains.

    And the food and farming sector is keen to attract new people in, to fill the staffing gaps created by Brexit and Covid in the short term, but in the longer term to bring in new ideas. This week on Farming Today, we’ll be looking at the opportunities available, the barriers which stop people taking them, and meeting some of the young, and older, people making growing food their career. We start with Ben Thompson - who manages the Agri-Tech Centre at Hartpury University and Hartpury College.

    Presented by Charlotte Smith
    Produced for BBC Audio in Bristol by Heather Simons

    • 11 min
    25/09/21 Defra Secretary says food price rises 'undeniable', farming and C02, Wales and NI's post-Brexit farm payments, muck

    25/09/21 Defra Secretary says food price rises 'undeniable', farming and C02, Wales and NI's post-Brexit farm payments, muck

    After a difficult week for the food supply chain, there are warnings that consumers will pick up the bill. Food prices will inevitably rise as a result of the increasing costs farmers and food producers are facing - the Environment Secretary George Eustice says that’s ‘undeniable’.
    Minette Batters, the President of the National Farmers' Union, has called for the future supply of C02 to be made much more secure. Carbon dioxide is used to stun both pigs and poultry before slaughter and The British Poultry Council warns that without it, we would see food shortages and animal welfare consequences on farms.
    There's an update on the post-Brexit farm subsidy plans across the UK - the Welsh Rural Affairs Secretary announced that theirs won’t be brought in until 2025, while Northern Ireland heard they’d be getting more than £15 million extra.
    And we visit a Thames Water sewage works in Hampshire, to find out how the waste we flush down the loo is processed and spread out as fertiliser on farmers' fields.

    Presented by Charlotte Smith and produced by Beatrice Fenton.

    • 24 min
    24/09/21 - George Eustice on labour and food prices, slurry bags and farming succulents

    24/09/21 - George Eustice on labour and food prices, slurry bags and farming succulents

    Food prices will inevitably rise as a result of the increasing costs farmers and food producers are facing - the Environment Secretary George Eustice says that’s ‘undeniable’. He acknowledges that the rising price of gas, CO2 and labour - coupled with a shortage of haulage drivers and workers in both farming and food processing - is causing problems for the food supply chain. Charlotte Smith asks what the Government is doing.

    Slurry is an important fertiliser on farms across the UK, but it also has the potential to cause pollution - both in the air and in rivers. The rules on how, where and when muck is stored and spread are getting stricter. For example, within 6 years all slurry stores in England must be covered, and we've been taking a look at a new "slurry bag", which could be part of the solution.

    And we visit a farm on the Isles of Scilly where they've changed tack from growing cut flowers to succulents.

    Presented by Charlotte Smith
    Produced in Bristol by Heather Simons

    • 13 min
    23/09/21 - Lamb exports to the US, NI subsidy hike, sewage sludge and glasshouse gas use

    23/09/21 - Lamb exports to the US, NI subsidy hike, sewage sludge and glasshouse gas use

    British lamb may still be years away from American plates, despite news that the USA is to lift its ban. The Americans banned UK lamb along with sheep genetics in 1989, blaming BSE. The prime minister has now announced that ban will be lifted, calling it a 'solid incremental step on trade'. The National Sheep Association has welcomed the news, saying there is a strong market for British sheep semen and embryos in the US, but it warns it will take time to work through the details before exports to the US can actually start.

    Farmers in Northern Ireland are getting £15 million pounds extra money. We hear from the agriculture minister, Edwin Poots, who has announced the addition to this year’s single farm payment. Mr Poots also says he is trying to tackle the labour shortage in abattoirs, by lobbying the Home Office for permission to bring butchers from the Philippines to work in Northern Ireland.

    As part of our week's focus on muck, we learn how human sewage is turned into a product that can be spread on farmers' fields.

    And, with gas prices up by 250%, farmers growing veg under glass are reconsidering their plans. Gas is used to heat glasshouses, so costs are skyrocketing.

    Presented by Charlotte Smith
    Produced for BBC Audio in Bristol by Heather Simons

    • 13 min
    22/09/21 Calls for a more secure supply of C02, Wales' future farm support, anaerobic digester

    22/09/21 Calls for a more secure supply of C02, Wales' future farm support, anaerobic digester

    It’s been reported that production of carbon dioxide could start up again soon, after the Government struck a deal with the American company CF Industries, which was providing 60% of the country’s CO2, a by-product of making fertiliser. CO2 is used to stun animals at slaughter and to extend the shelf life of food. The president of the National Farmers' Union says that urgent clarity is needed on the detail of the deal, including timings and volumes established in the agreement.
    Major reforms to farm subsidies in Wales won't be brought in until 2025, the Rural Affairs secretary has announced. Details of the plan are to be set out next year ahead of a fourth consultation in 2023. Lesley Griffiths denied Wales is lagging behind on the issue, insisting it was 'complex work' that needed to be done right.
    Where's there's muck, there's brass, as the saying goes - but on some farms, where there's muck, there's electricity. A number of farmers around the UK have been working towards a ‘golden circle’ approach where the farm works as a whole, to provide its own energy and cut waste.

    Presented by Anna Hill and produced by Beatrice Fenton.

    • 13 min

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