Gleanings - AF Weekly news summary
17th January 2024

Here’s what caught our eyes and ears in the agri news from UK and further afield in the last week.


Natural Flood Management

Lake District farmer James Robinson explained in The Guardian how he has used Natural Flood Management (NFM) to reduce risk to his farm from increased year on year rainfall we are experiencing. “The becks on our farm have suffered from over-management. We’ve got these elevated becks on some of our farm as well as some that have been cleaned up and cleaned out” he said.

When he took the farm over 20 years ago, he immediately started thinking how he could mitigate flooding risk. Initially he allowed the area around becks to become wilder, as well as increasing the size of the watercourses. He also added meanders and bends to becks which had been straightened by previous generations. They have also created scrapes and pond areas.

Since leaving sides of banks to grow, forest regeneration has started, which helps nature as well as averting floods. This has been bolstered by the planting of more trees, to hold more water and improve the soil. “We planted about 10 acres of our pasture last year, and that will benefit the cattle for shade. We are going to get increased temperatures in coming years so cattle are going to need a lot more shade.”

As floods hit the UK and the rest of the world with growing frequency, NFM is increasingly becoming part of the response, and the evidence so far available suggests that NFM works, and also has benefits for wildlife which lives in wetlands created.


Illegally imported meat shocker

Over five tonnes of illegally imported meat was seized at Dover over the weekend before Christmas, adding to the 57 tonnes seized, often from private individuals, since September 2022. Unless the Port Authority have got very lucky, this must be the tip of the iceberg.

In related news the Scottish environment minister is urging DEFRA undersecretary responsible for biosecurity, Robbie Douglas-Miller, to tighten rules around import of meat, fish and dairy for personal use. Currently EU, Swiss, Norwegian and Icelandic citizens can bring any amount of these into the country, the only cap being 2 kg of pork products. Given the threat of African swine fever, blue tongue and avian influenza banning personal meat imports seems a small price to pay to protect our national herds and flocks.


Sizzling fiesta as UK and Mexico seal pork deal

Mexico is one of the largest pork importers in the world. Soon UK pork meat and offals will be making their way across the Atlantic to the land of the Aztecs. Although limited initially to £18m over five years, this is a great new export stream to a country where pork is the second most consumed meat.

Opening up new trade routes is always welcome, and especially to a large populous country, which has great potential for growth and development in the coming years ¡Arriba Arriba!



Eccentric nerd Mark Zuckerberg has boasted of raising “world-class” beef cattle on his 1,400-acre ranch on Kauai, Hawaii’s oldest island. He posted on his Instagram site:

“Started raising cattle at Ko’olau ranch on Kauai, and my goal is to create some of the highest quality beef in the world.” 

“Each cow eats 5,000-10,000 lbs of food each year, so that’s a lot of acres of macadamia trees. My daughters help plant the mac trees and take care of our different animals. We’re still early in the journey and it’s fun improving on it every season. Of all my projects, this is the most delicious.”

As he suggests, there the beef cattle are being fed macadamia nuts and beer produced on the ranch.

Mitch Jones, a director at American watchdog Food & Water Watch said, “Raising cattle on water-intensive macadamia nuts and beer is just a billionaire’s strange sideshow. We need real agriculture reform to address inequities in our food system and reality of a warming climate. We need to promote viability of small and medium-sized farms that work to feed everyone, not just wealthy celebrities.”


Tweet of the week

From AF Member Tom Clarke: