21/10/20 - Making products from agri-waste and a mast year in our woodlands.
The rendering industry in the UK processes around 2.5 million tonnes of animal by-products each year. The waste includes things like livestock that have died on farms and the bits of animals we don't eat, and it has to be handled carefully and processed to avoid spreading disease. We visit a rendering plant which processes thousands of tonnes of poultry by-products like feet and feathers. Waste from plants is easier to deal with, since it generally poses less of a disease risk. We hear from one company that is using left over grain from distilleries to make a resin, which can be mixed with various types of plant based by-products to make a composite material a bit like MDF. The company - called Cambond - has made various prototypes and is now hoping to scale up production in the UK, using by-products like the leaves and cobs left over from maize. And autumn is here, but this year it's a bit special. It’s known as a ‘mast’ year when beech, oak and chestnut trees ALL produce a mega-crop of seed. It’s not known exactly how these trees act together, but often it can be triggered by the weather. The huge amount of food produced means wildlife is not able to eat all the seed and the trees have a better chance of reproducing successfully. Presented by Anna Hill Produced for BBC Audio in Bristol by Heather Simons
20/10/20 - WTO trade rules, feathers for insulation, migrating wild birds and record breaking sheepdogs
Farmers are concerned a future trade deal with the USA would allow food produced to lower environmental and animal welfare standards into the UK, which would out compete British produce. Some think the World Trade Organisation wouldn’t allow the UK to prevent food coming in from the USA for example, based solely on how it was produced. But Anna Hill hears from the Deputy Director of the UK Trade Policy Observatory, Emily Lydgate, who disagrees. Could the feathers left over from chicken meat production be used in insulating packaging? We find out about a company trying to do just that. And it seems Covid might be playing a part in new record sale prices for sheepdogs: at Skipton online sales, one’s been sold for £20,000. Auctioneers tell us with everything done virtually, the international bidders feel more confident and are pushing up prices. Several records have been broken since February and several dogs have been sold abroad. Presented by Anna Hill Produced for BBC Audio in Bristol by Heather Simons
19/10/20 Agricultural by-products, rural broadband, vegetable genebank
This week on Farming Today we want to explore how the UK is making use of by-products from agriculture, things that some might see as waste but others can make use of. So we’ll talk slurry, chicken manure, feathers and straw. The regulator Ofcom is investigating BT’s delivery of broadband in hard to reach rural areas. Ofcom appointed BT to deliver the Universal Service Obligation which requires them to help deliver broadband of 10 megabits per second download speed upon request to those in poorly served areas, but is concerned at some of the prices quoted for connection. The UK Vegetable Genebank, based in Warwickshire, is celebrating its 40th birthday. The Genebank is made up of millions of seeds stored in giant freezers at the University of Warwick. Presented by Charlotte Smith and produced by Beatrice Fenton.
17/10/20 - Farming Today This Week: The impact of COVID on rural communities and the Agriculture Bill
This week the Agriculture Bill was back in the House of Commons. Top of the political agenda was a proposed amendment from the Lords that would block imports of food produced to lower standards than UK farmers have to follow. The NFU has been campaigning hard on this, but in the end only 14 Tory MPs rebelled and the amendment was thrown out. The Government promise standards will be protected, but farmers are unimpressed. And what impact is COVID having in rural communities. From a boom to local businesses as people give up their commute, to a rise in house sales as city-dwellers move out to work from home in the countryside. We look into the postives and negatives of the legacy of lockdown. Presenter by Charlotte Smith Produced for BBC Audio in Bristol by Heather Simons
Fishing and trade, mental health in agriculture, wine harvest
Fishing is again proving a major and problematic issue in the Brussels Brexit talks this week. It's difficult to see how the UK’s insistence on annual negotiations on access to its waters can fit with the EU’s insistence on maintaining the existing access European fleets have to British waters. We’ve been looking at how rural communities have changed during Covid, and mental health has obviously been a big part of that. The lockdown put a strain on many of us, wherever we live, but farming can present unique challenges, from isolation to long hours. Charities supporting farmers say they’ve had more calls, but Covid has made helping harder. We’ve reported on a lot of poor harvests this year with yields down for many cereal crops hit by bad weather. One small sector is having a really good harvest, and that's grapes. English wine producers say they’re on for a record harvest this year. Presented by Charlotte Smith and produced by Beatrice Fenton.
15/10/20 - Rural broadband, fish refuge pools and rights away on farmland.
In rural areas broadband has been an issue for years as the topography and isolated nature of some communities has made getting a fast, reliable connection tricky and expensive. So when will the situation improve - and will the increase in people working from home give the project impetus? Charlotte Smith speaks to Openreach. We visit a trial site on the River Lodden in Berkshire where they are digging refuge ponds for fish to protect them from flooding and pollution incidents. And how do you protect walkers from livestock? Several rural groups are coming together to try to get the Government to allow farmers to temporarily divert rights of way when livestock are present. But although the Ramblers are sympathetic to the problems, they say they are unimpressed with this proposed solution. We find out more. Presented by Charlotte Smith 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.