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Farming Today

  • 23/02/24 Farmer protests in Wales: Lesley Griffiths; next farming generation; outgoing president of the NFU

    <p>As farmer protests continue in Wales the Rural Affairs Minister tells us she is listening.</p><p>We've spent all week talking about farming's next generation and as with most family businesses, many farmers hope at least one of their children will want to take over. But if you’ve got three kids who all want to stay, it might prove hard for all of them to make a living.</p><p>Anna Hill meets Minette Batters who stood down this week as President of the National Farmers' Union. Having been the most influential woman in British farming for the last six years, she's going back to the family farm in Wiltshire.</p><p>Presented by Charlotte Smith and produced by Beatrice Fenton.</p>

  • 22/02/24 NFU Conference: Political hustings and a new president

    <p>Politicians have been setting out their stall to farmers at the NFU Conference in Birmingham. With a general election on the horizon, we hear from all three main political parties: Conservative farming minister Mark Spencer; shadow environment minister Daniel Zeichner; and Liberal Democrat spokesperson on environment, Tim Farron. We also speak to the NFU's new president - Tom Bradshaw.</p><p>Presenter = Anna Hill Producer = Rebecca Rooney</p>

  • 21/02/24 NFU Conference: Prime Minister makes a raft of announcements, Minette Batters' farewell speech.

    <p>1500 farmers from across England and Wales have gathered in Birmingham for the National Farmers' Union annual conference. President Minette Batters is standing down after six years at the helm, and Prime Minister Rishi Sunak told farmers "I've got your back". He arrived with a raft of announcements including an annual national food security index, measuring the amount of food grown in the UK, a review of transparency in the poultry supply chain, an annual "farm to fork" summit in Downing Street, and increasing payments for managing environmental agreements.</p><p>Presented by Anna Hill and produced by Beatrice Fenton.</p>

  • 20/02/24 Farmer Protests; Prime Minister's funding announcement; Red Tractor; Next generation and family farms.

    <p>The First Minister of Wales says it shouldn't be up to farmers to decide how subsidy money is spent. Mark Drakeford was responding to the ongoing farmer protests in Wales over the Sustainable Farm Scheme. It will see direct subsidy payments phased out and farmers will have to plant 10% of their land with trees while putting a further 10% into wildlife habitats to qualify. We also speak to English farmers protesting at Dover. </p><p>The government is giving a £220 million funding package to English farmers. The Prime Minister is to make the official announcement at the National Farmers Union Conference. The money will be targeted at grants for technology and productivity schemes. He will also highlight fairness in the supply chain, with new rules for the dairy, pig and egg sectors and the announcement of a review of the poultry sector. Also the 'Farm to Fork Summit' is to become an annual event. The Liberal Democrat's have dismissed the move as a 'cynical pre election giveaway' which won't win back farmers. </p><p>An independent review into the Red Tractor scheme says that while it is sound and has not breached its own rules, there has been a failure of communication. This is the first of two reviews of the scheme and looks at the organisation's governance. A further report into Red Tractor's future will be published later. We speak to Red Tractor chair Christine Tacon.</p><p>Farming's next generation is something we're looking at all this week, from the challenges they face to their hopes for the future. The Duncan family run three successful farms close to Loch Lomond. Three of the family's four children now work in the farm operation, and plan to make it their home and livelihood long-term.</p><p>Presenter = Charlotte Smith Producer = Rebecca Rooney</p>

  • 19/02/2024

    <p>The latest news about food, farming and the countryside.</p>

  • 17/02/24 Farming Today This Week: N.I.'s new minister for agriculture; Farm support in England; Paper work; Green investment.

    <p>The return of the Northern Ireland Assembly means there's a new man in charge at the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, or DAERA. We speak to Andrew Muir about his priorities.</p><p>After leaving the EU, the four nations of the UK have decided on different payment systems for farmers. In England the Environmental Land Management Scheme, or ELMS, has several parts to it. The Sustainable Farming Incentive or SFI is part of that. It pays farmers for doing environmental work, like planting hedges or improving soils. Some English farmers felt there was little ‘incentive’ to join it, because payments were too low. However in January that changed. 50 new things farmers could do to attract money were added to the scheme and some payments were increased. We discuss what those were with the Farming Minister Mark Spencer.</p><p>All week we've been looking at the business side of running a farm. Farmers have long argued that they deal with far too much paperwork. One company set up to help them with form filling says it’s been inundated with requests and believes many farmers feel burdened and isolated by the sheer amount of red tape. </p><p>Diversification is often key to a successful farm business. According to DEFRA, 69% of farm businesses were engaged in some kind of diversification in 2022-23. We visit a small upland farm in the Lake District to find out how diversification has worked for them.</p><p>In the Scottish Highlands vast tracts of land and whole estates are being bought as ‘green investments’. Tree planting and rewilding are used to offset carbon. A report for the Scottish Government has tried to quantify the impact of this on rural communities. </p><p>Presenter = Charlotte Smith Producer = Rebecca Rooney</p>

  • 16/02/24 Small abattoir closure, farm training courses

    <p>Another small abattoir has announced it’s to close its doors for good. McIntyre Meats in Bainbridge in the Yorkshire Dales has been working with local farmers for the last 23 years and is just the latest small abattoir to decide to call it a day. Between 2018 and 2022 the number of small abattoirs processing red meat dropped by a quarter according to DEFRA. Right now in the Cotswolds, a group of farmers are trying to raise three million pounds to save Long Compton Abattoir from closure by buying it themselves. Why does it matter? Well, if you like to buy your meat local, direct from the farm or from a farmers market, the livestock your beef or sausages comes from will most likely have been slaughtered and possibly butchered at a small abattoir. </p><p>Graham Bottley produces Mutton from his flock of Swaledale sheep in the Yorkshire Dales, and until now, has been using McIntyre Meats regularly </p><p>We are looking into the business side of farming this week, now for most non-farming companies or organisations, training, appraisal and continuing professional development is the norm. But if you’re a small family farm business, already dealing with rising costs, increasing paperwork, as well as the unpredictability of markets and weather, training courses can come a long way down the priority list. Ernie Richards is a shepherd from Hay on Wye and he argues that taking time out for training courses off the farm is an important investment. Mariclare Carey-Jones has been to meet him.</p>

  • 15/02/24 Green land investment in Scotland and its impact; Farm diversification businesses.

    <p>In the Scottish Highlands, rewilding and planting trees for carbon capture are increasingly attractive for big new landowners, but what impacts do these activities, taking over vast tracts of the countryside, have on the communities around them? A report for the Scottish Government tries to quantify those impacts and not all are positive. We visit affected communities and speak to the author of a new report.</p><p>All week we've been looking at the business side of farming. According to DEFRA, 69% of farm businesses were engaged in some kind of diversified enterprise in 2022-23. Having an extra income strand can make the difference between a viable farm and one that can’t pay its way, so nowadays the business of farming often means looking at what other businesses a farm can grow. Branching out can give both farm and farmers a whole new lease of life as we find out on a small upland farm in Cumbria.</p><p>Presenter = Caz Graham Producer = Rebecca Rooney</p>

  • 14/02/24 Environmental payments to farms - details of the Sustainable Farming Incentive; Lower carbon beef

    <p>As more farmers take up payments to farm in a more environmentally-friendly way, will that mean growing less food? After leaving the EU, the four nations of the UK have decided on different payment systems for farmers. In England, the Environmental Land Management Scheme, or ELMS, has several parts to it - the simplest being the Sustainable Farming Incentive or SFI. Some farmers said there was little incentive to sign up, because payments to do environmental work were too low. However, in January that changed and some payments were increased. We unpick the details of the scheme and find out who the winners and losers are. We also talk to the Defra farming minister, Mark Spencer.</p><p>Some farmers in Northern Ireland fear a new scheme designed to reduce emissions from livestock will put slower-growing breeds of cattle at a disadvantage. They are concerned it will make rearing grass-fed or native breed cattle less viable.</p><p>Presenter: Anna Hill Producer: Rebecca Rooney</p>

  • 13/02/24 Northern Ireland's new DAERA minister; NI farmers' concerns about ammonia regulations; Farm paperwork.

    <p>After two years without a government, Northern Ireland's got a minister for agriculture and the environment again. We speak to Andrew Muir, who's just started his new job at DAERA - the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs. His in-tray is bulging with a raft of issues: farming subsidy changes, environmental concerns and bovine TB, among other things. Anna Hill speaks to the Ulster Farmers' Union about what they want from the new minister, and also to Northern Ireland Environment Link - a coalition of conservation groups.</p><p>All week we’re looking at the business of farming. Paperwork is a big part of the job and one firm which was set up to assist farmers with their form-filling says it’s been inundated with requests for help. The Herefordshire-based company says many farmers feel burdened and isolated by the sheer amount of red tape involved in the modern farming industry. </p><p>Presenter: Anna Hill Producer: Rebecca Rooney</p>

Agri Assist

  • 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! Our new sister website aimed at helping farms and rural businesses is here at
  • Agri Assist is born. We are delighted to launch our site dedicated to helping rural businesses in financial difficulty.