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Farming Today


Welsh Farming, Brexit Competition, Glass Milk Bottles and British Flowers.

Three million pounds is being given to help Welsh farming during the Brexit process. The First Minister of Wales, Carwyn Jones, has earmarked the funding to support the red meat and fisheries industries. It's being claimed British farmers are facing overseas competition as international food firms eye the UK market post-Brexit. The head of agriculture and food at HSBC, Allan Wilkinson, says he has been contacted by companies wanting to do business here as we leave the EU. Are we seeing a return to the old glass bottle 'pinta'? Dairy farmers who sell milk in glass bottles from vending machines have told us they are experiencing the "Blue Planet effect". They say the increase in sales is down to people wanting to use less plastic after watching David Attenborough's recent groundbreaking BBC series. The season for Flower Shows is underway at a crucial time for the floristry industry. The majority of cut flowers are imported but British growers say they are are fighting back, helped by the rise in popularity of flowers which can be grown here. Presented by Charlotte Smith. Produced by Vernon Harwood.


Farming Today This Week: Robotics in Farming

Charlotte Smith finds out about some of the ways in which robotics is changing farming, including driver-less vehicles, drone crop mapping, automated cabbage pickers and big data. She visits Nick August's arable farm in Oxfordshire to see how he programs a sprayer to turn off or on according to the patch of land that it's on. Nick goes on to demonstrate how he uses a combination of self-driven drone technology in conjunction with satellite imagery to map his crops, but also warns that the economic model behind robotics may be benefiting the technology companies first rather than farmers or food production. They're joined by Dr Nicola Cannon from Royal Agricultural University in Cirencester explains how technology has become a crucial part of the University's courses. She says that labour shortages may drive the race to develop technology but that it's largely health and safety concerns that are preventing its wider roll-out onto the farm. Producer: Toby Field.


Food labels, Cauliflower pickers, Wolves and Shark tagging

Food producers who label their goods as 'traditional' or 'natural' are misleading shoppers according to the European consumer organisation BEUC. It's calling for tougher rules on the words and images used on food labels to avoid deception. Robotic vegetable pickers which mimic humans are being created by researchers at the University of Plymouth. The newest prototype will tackle the tricky task of harvesting cauliflowers and it will soon be trialled in the vegetable fields of West Cornwall. The idea of reintroducing wolves into remote parts of Scotland isn't new and has proved controversial. Now a team of researchers from the Universities of Sussex and Kent have suggested that if wolves are to be effective at reducing red deer numbers, they need to be rewilded into a large fenced reserve. Anglers and shore walkers in Northern Ireland are being encouraged to get involved in a new conservation project to protect sharks. There are around 20 different species of shark in UK waters and they are among our most endangered marine life. Presented by Charlotte Smith. Produced by Vernon Harwood.


Gove grilled by EFRA, Future Food winner announced, Cereals 2018

In the week that Michael Gove celebrates his first year as Secretary of State for the Department of Environment, Farming and Rural Affairs, he's grilled by the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee about the work of his department, and criticised by the Environmental Audit Committee for his plans for an Environmental watchdog. What's going on? Emma Campbell and Charlotte Smith chew over these Parliamentary proceedings. There's reaction from the BBC Food and Farming Awards as the winner of the Farming Today Future Food Award is announced. But who gets to take home that coveted prize, the embossed chopping board? Cereals 2018, the UK's event for the arable industry is underway in Cambridgeshire and Anna Hill reports on the latest developments in artificial intelligence. Producer: Toby Field.


13/06/18: UK mammals under threat; Robotic weeders; Rural theatre; Fishing lobby

A new report out today estimates that one in five species of mammal in the UK now faces the threat of extinction. Anna Hill asks Professor Fiona Matthews, who chairs the Mammal Society, what lies behind the figures, and what can be done to improve the situation. Continuing a week-long look at the use of robotics in agriculture, we hear about new research into robotic weeders. What could it mean for British farmers? Fishermen will lobby MPs at Westminster today. They're worried that their interests could be traded away in the on-going Brexit negotiations. We hear from the Chief Executive of the National Federation of Fishermen's Organisations. And actors in Perthshire have been touring village halls with a new take on Brexit. Their play, called "A six-inch layer of topsoil and the fact it rains", features the views of farmers, shepherds, landowners and migrant workers - all voiced by actors. Presented by Anna Hill and produced by Emma Campbell.


Defenceless sweet veg, Soft fruit pickers, County farms

Farmers are growing sweeter veg but the compounds which make them taste bitter is also a defence against pests. Professor John Pickett explains to Anna Hill how this happens and what it means for both farmers and consumers. Cliff Besley, a strawberry grower in Chedder in Somerset tells Emma Rushton from BBC Somerset about his struggles to find European workers to pick his fruit, why workers from this country aren't so willing to get their hands dirty, and the impact this is having on his business. For our week on robotics in farming BBC Look North's Luxmy Gopal reports on the technology which could mean farmers get an early warning for crop diseases, before they can be seen in the field, with the help of a robotic camera and a smartphone. Environmentalist Guy Shrubsole tells Anna Hill why the decline in County farms represents an immediate problem to young farmers, and an existential crisis for the country. Producer: Toby Field.