Scottish Rrural Abattoirs, Farming Without Neonics, Abstraction
The Orkney Islands' famed beef producers have been dealt a blow with the closure of the islands' only abattoir - now the Scottish Crofting Federation says the rural meat processing sector is being seriously neglected. BBC Orkney's Robbie Fraser reports on local producers' concerns over how best to process their meat, while Anna Hill speaks to the Scottish Crofting Federation chairman, Russell Smith, about the wider issue.
Neonicotinoids or 'neonics' are pesticides applied as seed coatings, before a crop is planted. Three of these preparations have already been banned on flowering crops in the EU, after research showed the chemicals were harming bees and other pollinators - and now discussions are underway considering whether to extend that ban to non-flowering crops as well, like wheat or sugar beet, due to concerns that neonics might leach from the plant into the soil, and then get into the pollen of flowering plants nearby. Environment Secretary Michael Gove has previously said the UK would support such a ban - farmers fear it would undermine the health of crops like sugar beet. But is there an alternative way to farm - without neonics?
Following an event discussing this issue in London, Anna asks one of the speakers, Professor Richard Pywell from the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, if it's time for a fresh approach to pest management.
Farming Today is taking stock of water-use all this week and today it's all about abstraction: getting water from under the ground and from rivers.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs is currently re-organising its abstraction licenses for farmers - encouraging them to reduce their reliance on underground aquifers, and instead take water from rivers when they're in "high-flow" and then storing it until it's needed.
Anna's been to the banks of the River Thet to meet farmer Tim Jolly. He grows potatoes, carrots, onions, asparagus and cereals, near Thetford in Norfolk; and currently draws his water from an underground chalk aquifer.