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Farming Today


RSA's Food, Farming and Countryside Commission report, the cost of food without pesticides, 100 years of wheat

Should all UK farming be putting the environment before food production? Or will that make food too expensive? We hear from Sir Ian Cheshire on the new report from the RSA's Food, Farming and Countryside Commission, which recommends a radical shift in farming practices. Independent economist, Sean Rickard, argues on behalf of the Crop Protection Association, that a family food bill would rise by£786 a year if pesticides and herbicides were not used on farms. And as part of our week-long look at cereals we're talking about 100 years of wheat at The National Institute of Agricultural Botany (NIAB). Presented by Anna Hill and produced by Beatrice Fenton.


15/07/19: The future of Natural England, Cereals overview, Sugar Snap Peas for kids

Natural England has been roundly criticised over its handling of environmental payments, and the suspension of general licences, and now its Chair Tony Juniper tells Charlotte Smith that it doesn't have the money to fight legal actions or even perform some of its core functions. Shaun Spiers from The Green Alliance tells Charlotte that more funding is required if the Government's serious about meeting its environmental targets. It's cereals week on Farming Today and David Eudall from Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board tells Charlotte that farmers are enjoying a far more stable year after last year's turbulent weather, and that more and more farmers are turning to Oats as a replacement crop for Oil Seed Rape. For some school-children in Birmingham their daily fruit intake is being replaced by vegetables including a crop that British farmers have only recently started to grow on a large scale - the Sugar Snap Pea. David Gregory-Kumar went to Worcestershire to help with the Sugar Snap harvest and to find out what the kids thought of this innovative vegetable-based snack. Producer: Toby Field


Farming Today This Week: Access to the Countryside

This programme explores the issue of public access to the countryside. How do you balance the rights of walkers, horseriders and cyclists with the needs of farmers? Charlotte Smith visits a sheep farm near Wantage in Oxfordshire, which is very close to the Ridgeway national trail. She talks to the farm manager about the impact of having a major walking route on the doorstep, attracting thousands of visitors every year. She learns about how environmental schemes have paid subsidies in the past to improve footpath access, and asks whether the proposed new system of 'public money for public goods' post-Brexit could improve access further. We also meet the officer in charge of the Ridgeway trail and the director of the North Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty - who explain how the area is managed, and tell Charlotte about the impact all those tyres, hooves and pairs of walking boots have on the land. Producer: Emma Campbell


12/07/19: Beef prices, LEAF schools, Project to increase access of BAME to the countryside

Beef prices are down - Chris Mallon from the National Beef Association tells Charlotte Smith that on average farmers are getting between£160 to £260 pounds a head less than this time last year and without help the future of British beef production may be bleak. The farming and education group LEAF are taking their practise of demonstration farms into schools to increase awareness of farming and the countryside at an earlier age. Caroline Drummond tells Charlotte why they hope to achieve. For Farming Today's access to the countryside week Charlotte speaks to Zakiya McKenzie who founded the Green and Black initiative which aims to connect with Caribbean and African communities through the common theme of nature. On Your Farm returns to Radio 4 this Sunday with Yorkshire Shepherdess Amanda Owens and she explains why she decided to open her life and the life of her family up to the media spotlight. Producer: Toby Field


11/07/19: Criminal gangs killing sheep, Disabled access to the countryside

Farmers have reported a big rise in the number of incidents in which sheep have been illegally killed and butchered in the fields by criminal gangs. Charlotte Smith hears from a farmer who found fourteen of his animals had been slaughtered and skinned - with heads, intestines and fleeces left in the field. We also hear from a professor specialising in food crime, who explains why both farmers and consumers are left vulnerable by this crime. Continuing a week-long series looking at access to the countryside, we go out with a group of disabled ramblers in the Cotswolds. Produced by Emma Campbell.


10/07/19: Testing British Pork, Wildflower seeds, Litter at Loch Lomond

An isotope test conducted by the Agricultural and Horticultural Development Board which determines whether pork labelled as British is British will be extended to include butchers. Anna Hill asks Lizzie Wilson from the National Pig Association for her reaction and why it's taken until now for this test to be rolled out. Anna's also been out in the fields of Norfolk to visit one of the main producers of wildflower seed mixes. Earlier this week the National Farmers' Union held a reception at the House of Commons and Michael Gove and NFU President Minette Batters sized up whether Gove's agricultural transition away from the EU's subsidy system should be delayed in the advent of a no-deal Brexit. As part of access to the countryside week Nancy Nicolson visited Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park to meet their litter 'tsar' and unfortunately they make some rather grim discoveries. Producer: Toby Field