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Farming Today

Africa's farming revolution, NFU plan for post-Brexit agriculture policy, Black Mountains grant

Africa's population is set to double by 2050 - and that growing market has many international farmers rubbing their hands in glee, as it holds huge potential for exporters of meat, dairy and processed foods. But in Africa, there is talk of revolution: a complete agricultural transformation, tapping into the production potential of 41 million smallholders, farming some of the most fertile soils in the world. Governments, NGOs and the private sector are committing millions of dollars to the home-grown food and farming revolution. Anna Jones went to the African Green Revolution Forum in Ivory Coast, to find out where Africa's farmers are heading - and whether the continent will be a customer or a competitor to the UK in future. The National Farmers Union has launched its vision for the UK's future domestic agriculture policy - and it says direct payments to farmers need to continue, albeit in a different format... It also suggests that the new policy should be integrated, providing farmers with "incentives and rewards" to become profitable and resilient Charlotte Smith finds out more from the NFU's Nick Von Westenholz. A pioneering partnership in Wales' Black Mountains has secured a grant from by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development, to restore and improve the iconic area. Made-up of graziers, private land owners and public land-owning bodies, the partnership has£1,004,155 (one million, four thousand, one hundred and fifty-five pounds) to spend on a range of projects, including tackling bracken, improving grazing land and developing rural skills. Toby Field visited the picturesque spot to chat to some of those involved in the project - including Phil Stocker, chair of the organisation that secured the funds and chief executive of the National Sheep Association.

US secretary of agriculture, EFRA Committee reports, haricot beans

This week on Farming Today, we're taking a look at the issues impacting farming around the globe, from food security to sustainability. One of the biggest players in global agriculture is the United States: but as a country that has so many diverse agricultural systems in play, what's the right way forward for the food and farming sector? Charlotte Smith put the question to the US Secretary of Agriculture, Sonny Perdue. Select Committees are cross-party groups of MPs that aim to hold the government to account on implementing policies based on evidence they've gathered from various sources - but are they failing to make an impact? The Environment, Food and Rural Affair Committee says it's 'concerned' and 'disappointed' with Defra's reactions to some of its recent reports, which the Committee's Chair Neil Parish MP has labelled 'inadequate'. He told Anna Hill why he's written to Michael Gove to complain. Beans on toast might sound like a typical British comfort food, but baked beans were originally from the Americas and are still only grown overseas. Until now, that is... A haricot bean breeding programme at Warwick University is hoping it's developed a variety that can put up with our unpredictable weather. Sarah Swadling joined Professor Eric Hollub in the midst of harvesting his field trials, to find out more.

No trade deal post-Brexit, climate report, forest management, slurry spreading restrictions in Scotland

The Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling, has stirred up the agricultural community by saying if the UK left the European Union with no trade deal and the cost of food were to rise, to compensate UK farmers would "grow more here, and buy more from around the world". A new report just published claims that changing farming practices across the world could produce the same benefits as stopping burning oil. We visit two forests in Sussex, established after the Great Storm of 1987, to see how the impact of managing the trees has affected the woodlands and the landscape. Scottish farmers have been granted a waiver to slurry spreading rules from the Scottish Government. Presented by Anna Hill and produced by Beatrice Fenton.

The President of the World Farmer's Organisation Theo de Jager interviewed on the UN's World Food Day

On the UN's World Food Day, and as farming ministers from around the world reflect on the weekend's G7 Agriculture talks, Farming Today hears from the President of the World Farmer's Organisation Theo de Jager. It's 30 years since the devastating storm that killed 18 people, destroyed millions of trees and caused a billion pounds worth of damage. Farming Today meets a farmer who was there, and then Caz Graham asks the Woodland Trust what has been learnt since about protecting our vulnerable trees from vicious winds. Presented by Caz Graham Produced by Alun Beach.

Farming Today This Week: Deer

Lucy Taylor heads to Woburn Abbey in Bedfordshire, to explore the estate's Deer Park and Farm, which is a centre for deer genetics sold across Europe. It's rutting season, and the bellows of stags can be heard across the site: estate deer keepers Martin Harwood and Dan De Baerdemaecker - who's also chairman of the British Deer Farms and Parks Association - discuss the rut, as well as the nine different species of deer that live on-site. The estate deer team also take Lucy the to farm, where prize stags are bred and either sold to start other heards, or kept so their genetics can be sold on. Meanwhile the British Deer Society's Charles Smith-Jones talks to Charlotte Smith about why British deer farmers are feeling positive about venison sales but concerned over disease; Vernon Harwood heads to the Cotswolds to find out why there's a heightened risk of deer collisions on country roads during rutting season; and Moira Hickey visits a Highland estate to find out why managing deer numbers has long been a contentious subject in Scotland.

Import quotas to the UK, 100th birthday of the Co-operative Party, Deer&dogs and oilseed rape

A significant agreement has been signed between the EU and the UK on post-Brexit import quotas - these are the international agreements which decide how much of a product can come into Europe before high tariffs are put on. The UK and EU have made a preliminary trade agreement to split the current amounts based on actual imports over the past few years. So, for example, in the case of NZ sheepmeat based on trade volumes in 2014-16 then 48% would go to the UK, and 52% would go to Europe. The overall amount allowed into both markets at no or low tariff doesn't increase. However, this this has been rejected by international trade partners - the USA is leading a coalition of countries demanding increased access to British and European mamarkets post Brexit as they say they will nolonger be able to move goods freely between the UK and the Continent. Abi Kay, Chief Reporter at the Farmer's Guardian, tells us more about the agreement. All this week we've been looking at deer, and today we're looking at the issue of deer worrying by loose dogs. Bradgate Park in Leicestershire has been an enclosed deer park since the thirteenth century - though now its only a twenty minute drive from the centre of Leicester. The venison from the 800 acre park is an important source of money - but for the last eighty nine years it has also been a country park and popular dog walking spot and the relationship between the public, their dogs and the deer reached crisis point a couple of years ago. Ben Jackson reports. New figures show the UK's oilseed rape yields are up, despite a ban on the neonicitinoid pesticides which some farmers say are vital for successful growth. Provisional figures from DEFRA show that although just under 3% less area was planted with the crop, high yields - on average 3.9 tonnes per hectare mean an 26% increase on last year. Neonicitinoids are chemicals which are put onto seeds, so the resulting plants are toxic to pests, but they've been blamed for problems with bees and banned across Europe. Matt Shardlow from the invertabrates charity Buglife says the figures show that farmers can manage to grow oilseed rape without neonicitinoids, although NFU vice chairman Guy Smith disagrees. The Co-operative Party is a hundred years old this month and this weekend holds its Centenary Conference in London. Co-ops remain a big part of our agriculture - half of the UK's farmers are members of agricultural co-ops and farmer-controlled businesses have a turnover of nearly£6 billion a year . There are about 400 farm co-ops across the country - large and small - and Sybil Ruscoe has been to a 50-acre co-operative farm run by Stroud Community Agriculture in Gloucestershire to find out. The government's long awaited clean growth plan was has just been launched - the headlines are all about insulating houses and becoming more energy efficient in an attempt to cut emissions in half by 2032 - but the report also mentions 'a new network of forests,' planting woodland on farmland in England, more money for Agri-tech and for restoring peatlands. We hear a response from Dr Jonathan Scurlock at the National Farmers Union. Presented by Charlotte Smith and produced by Emily Hughes.

Farming Today This Week: Farming in Scotland

Farming Today This Week's summer series, shining a light on food and farming practices in different regions of the UK, finishes up in Scotland - more specifically, at the bustling Lairg lamb sale. Nancy Nicolson soaks up the atmosphere and chats to auctioneer David Leggat, who's sold lambs at the site for decades, about the current market for sheep farmers and buyers; John Fyall, chair of the National Sheep Association in Scotland about industry's dependence on European markets and recent calls for lynx to be released in several sites across Scotland; Joyce Campbell, a farmer and entrepreneur based in North Sutherland, who also sits on the new government task-force focusing on women in agriculture; and buyer John Roberts, who's travelled to the sale all the way from North Wales. Nancy also finds out more about the ingredients that go into Scotch whisky - not all of which are sourced from Scotland - with farmer Gordon Rennie, discusses the world of crofting with Crofting Federation chairman Russell Smith, and hears from reporter Richard Baynes on government plans to give the country's wild beavers protected status.