14/04/2021 - Volatile farm incomes, live animal exports to the EU, the state of our woodlands
Predicted farm incomes for this year have been released by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs - and they reveal the impact of both the weather and the pandemic. The average income on cereal farms is forecast to fall by around 43% after the poor harvest of 2020. Meanwhile, high prices for cattle and lambs means lowland livestock farms could see incomes increase by as much as 78%. We ask how farmers can plan for future volatility. More than 100 days after the end of the Brexit transition period, the trade in live animals for breeding is still being affected by the changes. Importers report delays, extra paperwork and mounting costs, while live exporting to the EU by sea has come to a complete halt because of a lack of border control posts on the other side of the Channel. A report from the Woodland Trust shows our native woodlands are under significant threat. It shows just 7% are in a ‘good’ condition, and climate change, pests, diseases and a lack of planting are all making the situation worse. The charity is calling on the Government to set legally-binding targets for woodland protection and planting. Presented by Anna Hill Produced for BBC Audio in Bristol by Heather Simons
13/04/21 - UK Trade and Business Commission, Exports to the EU, Selling brown wool
A cross-party independent commission has been set up to suggest ways to improve the new EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement and smooth current exporting difficulties. It’s not a government-backed body - it’s being run by the Best Of Britain group, which calls itself a ’pro-internationalism campaign’. Anna Hill speaks its leader, the Labour MP Hilary Benn. 100 days have passed since the Brexit transition period came to an end, and we continue our focus on how UK food and farming businesses are adapting. Today we hear from Ian Wright, Chief Executive of the Food and Drink Federation. For many UK sheep farmers, it now costs more to shear their sheep than they receive for the fleeces. We visit a New Forest smallholder who is on a one-woman mission to find a different market for her wool. Presented by Anna Hill Produced for BBC Audio in Bristol by Heather Simons
12/04/21 The 'Brains of Brexit' Shanker Singham, pubs re-opening, greening landfill
This weekend marked 100 days since the end of the Brexit transition period. Leaving the European Union has been a massive change for food and farming businesses. From subsidy to trade, from rules on genetic editing to rules on exports, it's all change and so far it hasn’t all been straightforward. We start the week with a man described as the ‘Brains of Brexit’, former member of the British Government’s Trade and Agriculture Commission, Shanker Singham. Rural pubs have had a tough few years - and lockdown will have tipped some into closing for good. But today, in England at least, those that survived get a chance to revive as pubs welcome people back. A Gloucester landfill site was one of the country's biggest waste tips until it closed two years ago, now it's set for a brand new, greener, future. Presented by Charlotte Smith and produced by Beatrice Fenton.
10/04/21 - Farming Today This Week: Dogs in the countryside, wetland rewilding and spring on the farm
Should dogs be kept on leads all the time whenever they're out in the countryside? The Country Land and Business Association says yes. There's been a 10% increase in dog attacks on sheep since this time last year, but there's another problem dogs can cause for farmers: parasites found in some dog poo can be passed on to cattle, and can even cause cows to abort calves. Charlotte Smith hears from a dairy farmer about the emotional and financial impact of getting the infection in a herd. Peat is a major ingredient in compost used by gardeners and farmers alike. But it's harvested from the wild, damaging peatland habitats and releasing carbon into the atmosphere. The Royal Horticultural Society has announced it will be completely peat free by 2025 as it switches to other growing media including sphagnum moss. But does it come as too little, too late? We find out more about a project in East Devon to recreate a huge tidal wetland at Budleigh Salterton. A 200 year old sea embankment will be breached, to allow fields in the estuary of the River Otter to flood, creating salt marsh and mud flats, with the aim of improving habitats and capturing carbon. And we bring you the sounds of Spring on the farm - from new calves and lambs, to the last seeds being planted. Presented by Charlotte Smith Produced for BBC Audio by Heather Simons
09/04/21 Dogs' impact on countryside, peat free gardening, French farmer protests
Dogs should be on leads at all times in the countryside, that’s the call from the Country Land and Business Association, which says that dogs are increasingly a problem. There's been a spike in attacks on sheep over the Easter weekend and a 10% increase in sheep worrying since this time last year. We hear how the disease Neopsora, spread in dog faeces, is having a devastating impact on a Surrey farmer, causing his cows to miscarry their calves. The Royal Horticultural Society has announced that it will be completely peat free by 2025 as it switches to other growing media including sphagnum moss. French farmers are out in the streets in tractors and muck spreaders to highlight their opposition to the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy. Presented by Charlotte Smith and produced by Beatrice Fenton.
08/04/21 - Wild flower theft, Spring drilling and tidal wetland creation
Some 8,000 bluebell bulbs are being painstakingly re-planted in a wood in Norfolk, after they were dug up illegally. Police were called to the woodland by a walker, and found large sacks and mail bags filled with recently uprooted bulbs. British bluebells are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act along with all other native wild plants and bulbs. Caz Graham finds out what drives wild flower theft. For arable farmers Spring is the moment when most crops are usually safely in the ground, and some are hopefully getting well established. Planting, or drilling as it’s called on farms, will have started back in September and usually continues through until the end of March. Last year the exceptionally wet autumn and winter meant drilling was delayed, and last year's harvest suffered as a result. So how is this year shaping up so far? Anna Hill visits an organic farm in Norfolk to find out. And in East Devon a major project has just got underway to recreate a huge tidal wetland at Budleigh Salterton. A 200 year old sea embankment will be breached to allow fields in the estuary of the River Otter to flood, creating salt marsh and mud flats, with the aim of improving habitats and capturing carbon. The project will cost £15 million, with money coming from the Environment Agency, the landowner and the EU as part of a wider project that could create another 70 tidal wetlands on the South coast of England and the North coast of France. We hear from the landowner. Presented by Caz Graham Produced for BBC Audio in Bristol by Heather Simons
- In the know: Our summary of the impending changes to direct support that Brexit will bring.
- In the know: The Government announces that levels of farm debt are rising. Some fare better than others.
- In the know: Feed-in Tariff to close.
- In the know: Read our summary of the recent case of Moore v Moore that is another cautionary tale about proprietary estoppel.
- In the know: Read our summary of the recent case of Wild v Wild, which concerns whether or not an asset is owned by a partnership or an individual partner.
- In the know: The law regarding plant nurseries and national non-domestic rates is clarified.
- In the know: Read our summary of the recent case of Gee v Gee, concerning proprietary estoppel.
- Agri Assist launches In the know to keep those working in the rural sector up to date with the latest cases and relevant issues.
- ... as is helpmyfarm.co.uk! Our new sister website aimed at helping farms and rural businesses is here at helpmyfarm.co.uk.
- Agri Assist is born. We are delighted to launch our site dedicated to helping rural businesses in financial difficulty.