Farming News

Defra secretary Elizabeth Truss at Scott's Field Pork in Oxborough. Picture: Ian Burt

Last week, East Anglian farmers told us their demands from the incoming government after the General Election. In an exclusive interview following Elizabeth Truss’ reappointment as environment secretary, CHRIS HILL asked for her responses to those issues.

James Debbage and Michelle Evans in their new restaurant, Gardeners Kitchen, at Green Pastures, their farm shop and garden centre. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

A Norfolk garden centre has undergone a £500,000 expansion to complete its position as the hub of a local food chain – now incorporating the growing, selling and cooking of home-grown produce.

Daniel Smith from Ingham Swan (left) with farmer Charlie Tacon.

A Norfolk restaurant has teamed up with a family farm for a “field to fork” initiative to support the local food chain and reconnect diners with the home-grown ingredients on their plates.

Paul Wortley, Wissey Abstractor Group

Worries over water availability have prompted East Anglian farmers to invest in measures to protect their businesses from future droughts – but concerns remain over the long-term security of supplies.

James Collingwood - variety specialist for KWS in the east of England.

A major cereal and oilseed rape breeding company is expanding its activities across the east of England, including a new Norfolk trials site to explore the potential of new crop varieties.

Alistair Duffield, chairman and managing director of Duffields at Saxlingham Thorpe. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

To succeed in a turbulent marketplace, even a business steeped in tradition cannot afford to rely solely on its hard-won reputation – it must adapt, evolve and overcome. And nowhere is that more true than at agricultural animal feed supplier Duffields.

Agronomist Selwyn Rees looking for blackgrass in a field of wheat. Picture: Ian Burt

Agronomists say non-chemical “cultural control” is becoming an increasingly important tactic in the ongoing battle against blackgrass on East Anglia’s arable farms.

The fire at Hirst Farms in Ormesby in March 2014.  Picture: James Bass

It is a disaster scenario that few would want to contemplate – but a year on from a traumatic fire at his family farm in Ormesby near Great Yarmouth, RICHARD HIRST shares the lessons he learned on how to prepare for the unthinkable.

The Euro rate remains a concern for exporters. Photo: Julien Behal/PA Wire

A weakened euro is proving challenging for farmers, according to a leading East Anglian banking chief.

Defra minister Elizabeth Truss on a visit to a dairy farm in Shipdham, near Dereham. Picture: Matthew Usher.

East Anglia’s representation at the top table of government has been bolstered after South West Norfolk MP Elizabeth Truss kept her job as Environment Secretary.

Paul Hammett, NFU

Conservationists are celebrating the refusal of two water abstraction licences which were found to be threatening rare wildlife in The Broads – but farmers fear there could be wider implications for irrigated agriculture in the region.

The new Voluntary Milking System (VMS) installed at Manor Farm, Fundenhall. One of the cows comes through the gate system, which checks she has been milked then allows her to leave for the field. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

After investing in robotic milking machines for the future of his dairy business, a Norfolk farmer is hosting an open day to show others the benefits they can bring for cost efficiency, yield and animal welfare.

Pulled Pork campaign

A new campaign has been launched to drive more value for British pig producers – by using a slow-cooked favourite to renew the consumers’ appetite for shoulder joints.

Peter Shropshire of GS Shropshire & Sons, which uses a unique sub-irrigation system, after initial conventional water-spraying, for its salad crops. Picture: Ian Burt

With environmental pressures and a growing population competing for water within a changing climate, farmers say a review of abstraction licences and incentives for reservoir building must be high on the new government’s agenda.

Prime minister David Cameron feeds a newborn lamb at an Oxfordshire farm during the General Election campaign. Picture: PA

After the drama of the General Election, East Anglia’s farmers have laid out their priorities for what David Cameron’s new government should do to promote British food production and boost agricultural profitability.

Christine Tacon, groceries code adjudicator, the national regulator for supermarkets and the way they deal with suppliers. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

The nation’s supermarket watchdog says suppliers can protect themselves from unfair practices by learning more about how to apply the Groceries Supply Code of Practice.

A farmer working on a field near Aylsham. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY

A survey of National Farmers’ Union (NFU) members has revealed continued lack of information relating to Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) forms, following the failure of the online application system.

Norfolk farmer Chris Eglington has discovered an infestation of cabbage stem flea beetle larvae in his oilseed rape crop. Picture: Matthew Usher.

While this year’s oilseed rape may look healthy and vibrant, farmers fear a worrying infestation of beetle larvae could spell disaster for next year’s crop.

Norfolk Ponds Project. Pictured: Helen Greaves.

The potential benefits of farmland pond restoration – and any pitfalls preventing conservation work – will be discussed at a practical workshop later this month.

Dr Mark Stevens, lead scientist at British Beet Research Organisation (BBRO).

A five-year collaborative research project has been launched which will see scientists and seed companies working together to target a major threat to the region’s sugar beet crops.

Tony Randell (second left) meeting Prince Edward (left) at the 2014 Royal Norfolk Show. Also pictured are Mr Randell's son William (third right) grandson Harry (second right) and wife Elizabeth (right). In the background is son-in-law Richard Hirst.

A shrewd businessman and inspirational agricultural engineer who steered his family firm through a generation of change has died at the age of 79.

Jeremy Hall, group technical director at Bernard Matthews, was presented with a Fellowship to the Royal Agricultural Society of England by Baroness Byford.

A pioneer of food safety innovations has been given a national honour for his work to reduce disease risks within the poultry industry.

Lynx  Photograph: Erwin Van Maanen

Plans to reintroduce the lynx to Norfolk woodland has been branded as potentially “catastrophic” for parts of the farming industry.

European Union

As the General Election looms, we want to hear opinions from anyone connected with agriculture about what you think the top three priorities should be for the next government to address in the farming industry.

Oilseed rape field in flower near Alby.  Picture: MARK BULLIMORE

Fields across East Anglia have blossomed into a vivid yellow hue in the recent warm weather, as this year’s oilseed rape shows its colours.

A European Union flag. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)

Through all the TV debates, the hustings and the doorstep discussions, the issue of Europe is a recurring General Election theme – and it is one which has split the main parties.

Two long-serving grain traders at Openfield retire. Pictured (left-right): Stephen Howlett, regional general manager, and Tim Hirst, farm business manager

Two long-serving stalwarts of the grain-trading community are retiring after accumulating a lifetime of experience in East Anglian agriculture.

Jolyon Harris.

A nationally-respected chartered surveyor and top Norfolk tennis player, Jolyon Harris, who has died aged 78, played a pivotal role in reviving one of the highlights of the farming calendar.

Pink blossom appearing on trees as the Spring weather continues.

Picture: James Bass

It’s an explosion of colour to raise the spirits, with stunning spring blossoms appearing throughout the region.

Christine Tacon, Groceries Code Adjudicator

Grocery suppliers have been urged to give honest feedback about their relationship with supermarkets as part of a national survey into retail practices.

David Henley, new principal taking over at Easton and Otley College.
Picture by SIMON FINLAY.

The principal of an East Anglian college aims to “make his mark” on the region’s reputation for agricultural education after formally starting his new role.

CLA election hustings at Wingfield Barns. From left: Jack Abbott, Lab; Rhodri Griffiths, Green; Barry Cameron, UKIP; Richard Bacon, Cons; Steve Gordon, Lib Dem; Julian Flood, UKIP.

A shortage of affordable housing was one of the key topics at a rural debate which also discussed EU farm subsidy reforms, transport and broadband.

One of the honey bees in a colony kept by Carolyne Liston, chairman of Norfolk Beekeepers Association. Picture by SIMON FINLAY.

A national bee health seminar will be held in Norfolk next month to address the raft of diseases and predators threatening East Anglia’s hives and colonies.

Campaign for the Farmed Environment walk on the Raveningham estate.

Farmers who joined a tour of Raveningham Estate near Beccles were shown how they could lend a helping hand to pollinating insects at all times of the year. Stephen Pullinger reports.

Charles Shropshire (centre) talks to visitors to G's Fresh at Barway. Picture: Ian Burt

An efficient new method of establishing lettuce plants was among the springtime operations and innovations demonstrated for visitors to one of East Anglia’s largest salad growers.

Norfolk NFU chairman Thomas Love with some potatoes grown on his farm at Walcott.   Picture: Mark Bullimore

An acute shortage of pest control chemicals has prompted a Norfolk-based buying group to secure emergency approval for an alternative product to help protect potato crops.

Chris Abel, of Abel Energy

A change in legislation has been introduced which could remove a major planning obstacle for farmers wishing to install solar panels on agricultural buildings.

Will Jones with the garden sprayer built as part of a design project at Gresham's School

A Norfolk student’s farming upbringing has inspired the design of a garden sprayer as part of his A Level studies.

HRH The Earl of Wessex meets students and staff at Easton and Otley College. Picture by SIMON FINLAY.

The Earl of Wessex made a rallying call for greater support of the region’s offshore fishermen as he discharged his final duties as president of the Royal Norfolk Show.

Crop sprayer in a field of barley. Pic by James Bass

In the face of rising regulatory pressures, collaborations between farmers and scientists will become increasingly important in finding natural alternatives to synthetic agro-chemicals.

David Cross, chairman of Register of Accredited Metallic Phosphide Standards (RAMPS UK).

Moves to tighten up the supply of specialist pesticides will help the farming industry ensure pest control methods are legal and effective, according to regulators.

David Missen, head of the MHA Agriculture Group. Picture: Matthew Usher.

Britain’s farmers are feeling less optimistic about the future than they did in 2014, according to a survey undertaken at a major East Anglian trade show.

More than 3,000 lots will be up for sale at vintage machine auction in Ely run by Cambridgeshire-based auctioneers Cheffins. Pictured: Ultra-rare 1966 Doe-130

A selection of vintage machinery from a bygone age will go under the hammer this month in an auction billed as the largest of its type in the country.

Kingfisher. Picture by Eddie Deane.

They offer a chance to explore some of the lesser-known beauty spots of the Broads. And like all good walks should, they start and finish in one of Norfolk’s finest country pubs.

Lambing season at Whitehouse Farm in Oxborough. Picture: Matthew Usher.

At this time of year, lambs provide a natural focus within the livestock industry – but could the meat of older sheep be due for a comeback?

Rollesby asparagus grower Charlie Tacon in one of his polytunnels.  Picture: James Bass

The asparagus season has arrived – but one Norfolk grower faced a race against time to produce the valuable first crop of the year after vital polytunnels were damaged in last week’s gales.

A new water treatment unit is being used by pig farmer Andrew Summers (right) at Holly Heath Pigs in Corpusty. Pictured with James Doel of Anglia Quality Meats.  Picture: MARK BULLIMORE

A north Norfolk pig farm is pioneering the use of a water treatment system which is helping to clean up drinking supplies, improve animal health and boost business efficiency.

With the right management, hedgerows are seen as key to helping pollinators and other beneficial insects complete their life cycles on farms

Farmers across East Anglia are being offered subsidised packs of wildflower and wild bird seed mix at a series of events aimed at improving the agricultural environment for pollinators.

NFU vice president Guy Smith speaking as chairman of the 2015 Norfolk Farming Conference. Picture by SIMON FINLAY.

Farmers must not be “penalised” for the technical difficulties which have plagued the computer system designed to process their EU subsidy grants, said a leading industry spokesman.

Dr Liliya Serazetdinova at the Adapt Low Carbon Group, UEA

East Anglian expertise will be at the heart of a ground-breaking £300,000 project to find ways to defeat crop pests’ resistance to insecticides.

A new reservoir built at Euston Estate. Pictured (left to right) are Matthew Hawthorne, Matthew Abrey and Giles Abrey. Picture by: Sonya Duncan

A new reservoir will help quench the thirst of this season’s crops following an East Anglian farming estate’s significant investment to safeguard its precious water supplies.

The first East Anglian-born Devon Closewool lambs have arrived at Meens Farm, near Halesworth, where a new flock of the rare breed sheep has been established.

The first East Anglian-born lambs of a rare sheep breed have arrived to join a new flock which is only the second to be established outside the animals’ West Country homeland.

The redwing, a Red-List species spotting by farmers during the 2015 Big Farmland Bird Count. Picture: Peter Thompson.

Norfolk and Suffolk have topped the table of farmers taking part in a national survey to monitor how conservation efforts are helping farmland birds.

Cattle pictured at Scarning, near Dereham. Picture: Matthew Usher

A project to develop a “search engine” which could streamline the exchange of cattle information across the supply chain has been launched after securing £282,000 of government funding.

Cattle grazing on Broadland marshes  Picture: James Bass

Auctioneers reported a drop in prices for grazing land in the Broads following the annual marsh lettings.

Frederick Hiam online machine sale, March 2015: John Deere 8360R

An online auction to sell surplus farm machinery from an East Anglian farm business has been hailed a success, with 95pc of the 300 lots selling well in excess of their reserve prices.

Dr Tom Clarke at University of East Anglia

Straw-powered cars could be a thing of the future thanks to new research from the University of East Anglia.

Phoebe Taylor on a vintage tractor at the 2015 Spring Fling at the Norfolk showground.
Picture by SIMON FINLAY.

Thousands of children and their parents learned about farm animals, crops and food at the 16th annual Spring Fling today at the Norfolk Showground.

NFU East Anglia regional director Robert Sheasby, who is due to take up the role in June 2015

The new regional director of the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) is preparing for the challenges of a different geographical landscape after swapping the North West for East Anglia.

Wheat growing in Norfolk. Picture: James Bass

A world-leading Norfolk scientific centre claims it has secured its crop research programme “for the foreseeable future” after purchasing a farm for its field-based trials.

Shipdham dairy farmer Ken Proctor (left) and MEP Stuart Agnew discuss the end of dairy quotas, April 1, 2015

A senior Norfolk dairy farmer has welcomed the end of dairy quotas after 30 years – but says the European Union still has an important role to play in helping milk producers.

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