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News - BBC Farming News

Farming Today

Tail-docking in Scotland and farming a year on from the EU referendum

The Scottish Parliament has passed new legislation, allowing vets to shorten the tails of working dogs. Research suggests these certified working breeds risk injury if their tails are left long. Scotland banned all tail docking in 2007 and made it illegal to take a dog out of Scotland to have its tail removed, but now MSPs have voted to allow docking in line with the rest of the UK - in a move that's received some differing responses. Yesterday we reported that a BBC survey suggested that more than half of British summer fruit and salad growers could be short of seasonal workers to harvest their crops this year. Farmers say that in the wake of the Brexit vote, recruiting seasonal labour has become more difficult - with many blaming the devaluation of the pound. The BBC's Jozef Hall has been to Bucharest, to find out why fewer Romanians want to work on our farms this summer. A year ago today, we were heading to the polls to make a decision that's changed the course of the country - with that word 'Brexit' now dominating farming conversations. 52 per cent of voters wanted out and since then, Farming Today has covered a variety of challenges and opportunities that could arise from our EU departure. Today, the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board is running digital panel discussions, exploring the impacts of the leave vote. Ahead of them, we've spoken to the panellists to get their thoughts on 12 months of Brexit discussion. Just over a week since the Grenfell Tower fire, families are being re-housed and questions asked about how the blaze began. But like many of us watching that tragedy unfold, farmer Nick Hiscox wondered how his family could help. They've decided to offer a future home-stay on their farm to one of the traumatised Grenfell families.

Farming Today This Week: Crop Protection

This programme looks at the issue of crop protection - a huge area of concern for many farmers. Charlotte Smith visits the agriculture department at the University of Reading, to find out about the latest trends in crop protection, and the research being carried out into possible new methods of keeping pests at bay. With neonicotinoids currently banned from use on many crops, and the future of glyphosate still uncertain, alternative methods of controlling insects and weeds are more important than ever. Charlotte finds out how state-of-the-art technology, fungi and even pheromones could all have a part to play. Presented by Charlotte Smith and produced by Emma Campbell.

BBC seasonal agricultural workers survey results

All this week Farming Today is shining a light on foreign agricultural workers - one sector that relies heavily on this workforce is the fruit and veg sector, which needs seasonal labour to pick the produce in its prime, and get it onto supermarket shelves. Now a BBC survey of British growers has found that over 70% would reduce their UK operations, if access to key labour markets was restricted in future; they're looking for clarity from the government on what steps it might take to accommodate this seasonal workforce in future. What is 3D planting - and does it hold the secret to more sustainable agriculture? Today, the 2017 Agro-Forestry Conference takes place at Cranfield University, discussing the key challenges and benefits for farmers willing to implement the system. Sybil speaks to Sophie Churchill, President of the Royal Forestry Society and a speaker at the event, Black grass is an annual weed that plagues arable farmers - and it's becoming increasingly resistant to chemical weed-killers. So many farms hit by the pestilent grass are employing a practice called roguing: pulling out 'rogue' weeds by hand. Sarah Falkingham has been out weeding on a field in East Yorkshire. Yesterday we were debating the rise of the roadside verges, and the arguments on both side of the fence: which generated plenty of listener feedback, and a poem which can be found on the Farming Today website.

Roadside verges, Seasonal labour

Roadside verges: to cut or not to cut? The organisation Plantlife is campaigning for councils to reduce the frequency of their verge cutting, and leave the roadsides to their own devices until late summer. They say this allows rare wildflowers and plants to flourish, and pollinators to make the most of them. However some rural residents say left to their own devices, verges are becoming dangerous for drivers and pedestrians - as well as looking messy and becoming potential hot-spots for litter and dog mess. The Welsh Environment Secretary Lesley Griffiths has announced a new regionalised approach to tackling bovine TB. The country will be split into low-, intermediate- and high-risk zones based on levels of the disease. Farms with long-term problems with TB will be given individual action plans, which could involve cage-trapping and humane killing of infected badgers. All this week Farming Today is discussing foreign labour and its importance to Britain's agricultural sector. As Brexit negotiations get underway, the future may still be unclear - but some farmers are already raising concerns about the challenge of recruiting this summer's seasonal workforce. Anna Hill's been to visit the vegetable producer G's Fresh in Cambridgeshire to find out more. And to mark the summer solstice - the shortest night and longest day of the year, and the official start of summer - Radio 4 has a day of poetry, kicking off with some William Blake on Farming Today, read by Noma Dumezweni. Presented by Anna Hill; produced by Lucy Taylor.

Dolphin deaths, migrant vets, Scottish subsidies

A new report suggests the number of dolphins dying from fishing is higher than estimated. Anna Hill speaks to Helene Peltier from La Rochelle University about her research, and gets the reaction from Dale Rodmell, Assistant Chief Executive of the National Federation of Fishermen's Organisations. Kevin Keane reports on the failing of an IT system to pay subsidies to Scottish farmers. Almost a quarter of qualified vets working in the UK come from other EU countries and many are employed in abattoirs and conducting TB tests. Vernon Harwood asks why this might be. Producer: Toby Field.

Michael Gove

The new Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Michael Gove speaks to Charlotte Smith about Brexit, badgers, trade, and the challenges facing farming. In a recent CLA survey growers and farmers are reporting a shortage in seasonal and migrant workers, who perform the vital task of picking our fruit and vegetables. John Hardman from Hops, a firm which recruits people into agriculture explains how Brexit, perceptions of the UK, and a rise in wages in other countries are all playing their part in attracting workers elsewhere. Producer: Toby Field.