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Farming

Gates funds ‘supercow’ research

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Prime Moo-ver: Bill Gates opens windows for research opportunities

RESEARCH that could lead to cows producing more milk, chickens laying better-quality eggs and crops being able to withstand droughts or disease received a funding injection of about $174 million from Britain’s Department for International Development and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

The Microsoft founder wants to create a bovine that will produce more milk than a European cow while still being able to withstand hot temperatures.

He said: ‘The impact per dollar we spend is super-high in this area. You can have a cow that is four times as productive with the same survivability.’

The research is part of a £28 million ($40 million) investment by the entrepreneur in the Global Alliance for Livestock Veterinary Medicines (GALVmed), which is a non-profit organisation based in Edinburgh.

The money will also be used to develop stronger crops and research diseases which can cause huge economic losses for African farmers.

While it is currently unclear how the cow will be created, Business Insider suggests it maybe via artificial insemination.

Climate scientists have warned that cows could be bad for the environment because of the methane they produce.

However, Gates says they can help mitigate global poverty and starvation.

The funding was announced during a visit by Gates to Edinburgh University.

He said ‘It’s great to have the chance to visit the University of Edinburgh with Secretary of State Penny Mordaunt (pictured below)and to see how the UK’s leadership in research and innovation doesn’t just benefit Britain, but also saves and improves lives in the poorest parts of the world.’

‘Cutting-edge’ agriculture research in Edinburgh has been backed by Microsoft founder Bill Gates (left). He is pictured here with International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt at Edinburgh University.

Millions of farmers in Africa, who depend on agriculture to support their families, struggle to grow enough crops to put food on the table because of natural disasters.

Now UK scientists are using their expertise to identify specific genes that help them become more nutritious, grow faster and more resilient to disease and extreme weather.

It is estimated the work will help up to 100 million African farmers lift themselves and their families out of poverty.

International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt, who is announcing the research, said: ‘Unpredictable flooding, plant diseases and drought are threatening the lives and livelihoods of millions of farmers in Africa who struggle to grow enough crops to put food on the table – the urgency of the task is clear.

‘That’s why UK aid is supporting British scientists to develop new crops that are more productive, more nutritious and more resistant to droughts and flooding, as well as creating new medicines to protect cattle and poultry from devastating disease.

‘New ideas, cutting-edge science and innovative partnerships with organisations like the Bill And Melinda Gates Foundation will help Britain create a healthier, more secure and prosperous world for us all.’

Farming

2018 Rural Crime Survey opens

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IT’S THREE years since the last National Rural Crime Survey revealed the huge cost of crime to rural communities – both financial, at £800 million per year, and ​psychologically​ with chronic under-reporting, anger and frustration at the police and government – says the National Rural Crime Network (NRCN)
NRCN produced a series of recommendations and, in many areas, the police took steps to improve matters. So, now, it wants to know what’s changed.
Do you think crime has gone up or down? Do you feel safer? What’s your view of the police in your community?

In short, ​they want to know the true picture of crime and anti-social behaviour in rural communities across England and Wales – and the impact it has where you live or work.

Questions cover a range of issues – from whether you report crimes that you or your business suffer, to the impact crime and anti-social behaviour has on you and your area, and whether you believe enough is done to catch those who carry out the offences.

According to NRCN, it’s all about making sure the voice of rural communities is heard by those who can make a difference to where we live and work – from the Police to Government.

The survey is now available online here and is open for submissions until June 10.

The survey last took place in 2015. Then, 13,000 responded to give their impressions of crime and anti-social behaviour and revealed the financial cost of rural crime was significant – around £800 million every year.

One of this year’s focuses as ​they rerun the research is whether rural crime continues to be underreported. Three years ago, one in four said they didn’t report the last crime they’d been a victim of because they didn’t see the point.

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Farming

Tenant farming must not be ‘Cinderella Sector’

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Seeking assurances: George Dunn, TFA

THE TENANT F​ARMERS ASSOCIATION (TFA) is seeking assurances from Government that the farmers represented by the TFA will not be left behind as the Government develops new farming and environmental policies for the post Brexit era.

TFA Chief Executive, George Dunn​,​ said​:​ “BREXIT has provided a long agenda of things to do. However there is a danger that we will see Government focus on a small number of priorities in order to manage its workload over the coming months. This could lead to many sensible ideas for the development of farm tenancies falling by the wayside.

“The Government has challenged the farming industry to achieve greater levels of productivity to ensure long-term resilience. It is widely recognised that, in comparison to their owner occupier counterparts, tenant farmers are routinely some of the most efficient farmers within the UK. However they are hampered by restrictive agreements and short lengths of term leading to under investment. Also, the combination of these factors leave many tenant farmers unable to participate in existing agri environment schemes. The TFA has been in the vanguard of encouraging Government to address these issues both by amending the legislative and taxation environments within which agricultural tenancies operate,” said Mr Dunn.

The TFA was pleased when, last year, DEFRA reconvened the Tenancy Reform Industry Group (TRIG) with a remit to advise on legislative and other changes that would be necessary to ensure the success of the tenanted sector of agriculture in meeting the Government’s productivity and resilience agendas.

“TRIG produced a comprehensive report for DEFRA’s consideration towards the end of last year. Whilst I am pleased that the Government’s ‘Health and Harmony’ consultation has identified the importance of the tenanted farm sector, it was disappointing that the opportunity was not taken to respond to the recommendations from TRIG and to identify which priorities the Government was minded to pursue. We are encouraging DEFRA not to sideline the valuable work that TRIG has already done in this space,” said Mr Dunn.

“Whilst it is important to address the future of the Basic Payment Scheme, trade, access to labour and look for new agri environment measures, these must not be prioritised at the expense of ensuring that tenant farmers have a flexible, long-term environment within which to develop their businesses and participate in future schemes to reward farmers for producing public goods​.”

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Italian students discover a true taste of Wales

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Studying the best: Gastronomy students travelled to Wales

FUTURE European gastronomy professionals recently undertook a study tour of Wales, experiencing the very best of Welsh food culture, including PGI Welsh Lamb.

The group of 14 students came from Università degli Studi di Scienze Gastronomiche (University of Gastronomic Sciences) in Pollenzo, Italy, a world-leading establishment specialising in food studies and gastronomy where many graduates go on to work in food policy and high profile food organisations.

The students, who are all studying undergraduate programmes at the university, were undertaking a week-long study tour of Wales discovering the likes of: the Cardiff restaurant scene, cider-making in Caerphilly, Pembrokeshire potatoes, sheep farming on Wales’ dramatic landscape and traditional Welsh cheese making before heading to Machynlleth to taste Wales’ renowned PGI Welsh Lamb.

Whilst in Machynlleth, the students enjoyed a visit to William Lloyd Williams & Sons butchers where they were given a butchery masterclass and shown the versatility of Welsh Lamb cuts available. They then enjoyed a special Welsh Lamb dish, sponsored by Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales (HCC) and cooked by Gareth Johns, owner and head chef at the Wynnnstay Hotel in Machynlleth.

Gareth created a ‘Oen Mêl’ dish comprising of Welsh Lamb shoulder, braised in cider and honey served with local root vegetable mash and shredded green cabbage.

The students received a presentation from Gareth, an Ambassador Chef for Wales who has previously cooked for the Queen, to explain why he favours the food produce here in Wales: ​”​I have worked in kitchens all over the globe but I firmly believe that Welsh Lamb and Welsh Beef are the best in the world. The Welsh Beef and Welsh Lamb particularly found here in the Dyfi valley has incomparable sweetness and consistency.​”​

Gareth is the Welsh ambassador for Slow Food, which is a leading international association committed to bringing back the real value of food and respect for food producers who work in harmony with the environment and ecosystems. The Università degli Studi di Scienze Gastronomiche has strong links with the Slow Food association and this is the third time students have come to Wales and been welcomed by Gareth.

Course tutor Rowan Hallet commente​d: “​We have all really enjoyed our trip to Wales and sampling traditional Welsh Lamb. We’ve really been able to embed ourselves into Wales’ food culture and have fostered a deep appreciation for the dedication and skill that farmers, producers, butchers and chefs have to allow people to understand and enjoy this high quality food. The evidence of all that hard work has been on our plates throughout our trip.​”​

Market Development Manager for HCC, Rhys Llywelyn, commented​: “​We were delighted to be able to meet the students and tell them the story of Welsh Lamb, whilst giving further details about how it is a fundamental part of Wales’ food history and culture.​”​

​”​The students were equally interested in eating the product as they were in asking questions about how it is produced and enjoyed here in Wales and we hope they will have left Wales with a greater understanding and appreciation for Welsh Lamb which they can take forward with them in their studies and future careers.​”​

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