Gleanings - AF Weekly news summary
31st January 2024

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


Big Farmland Bird Count

Farmers, landowners, gamekeepers and contractors are being asked to take part in the Big Farmland Bird Count (BFBC) which is being organised again by the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust.

This year the BFBC takes place between 2nd and 18th February. Not only does the count provide a very important snapshot of the bird population on farms, but it is an opportunity to communicate the really valuable work that farmers do in supporting and conserving birdlife.

Last year 1,700 farms took part, and 460,000 birds from 149 different species were counted. If Members would like to be involved this year, please follow the link here.


Aldi flying the British flag

Aldi has now joined Morrisons in having a specific page on their website highlighting ‘Best of British’. The page highlights the full range of food products available in Aldi which are grown in Britain, and processed meals made with British ingredients.

Aldi has become the market leader in the proportion of British products it sells, with 80% of sales coming from British suppliers. This also after Aldi were quoted in Gleanings on 8th January when we reported on the super discounted Christmas veg sales as saying, “… regardless of promotional activity in store, growers receive the same fair price as usual.”

So whilst the NFU and Red Tractor engage in long winded navel-gazing it is good to see that a couple of the big supermarkets are prepared to promote British food and agriculture.


Écoute s’il te plait

French farmers have joined their German and Romanian counterparts in nationwide protests, disruption and civil disobedience.

While the Germans have primarily been protesting against the phasing out of fuel duty breaks, the French have additional and more localised concerns.

They want fairer prices for produce, an end to the extra French red tape layered on top of EU rules, and immediate aid for struggling organic farmers. The organic farmers have seen the cost of living crisis decimate their markets, with very few households now able to afford their produce, leading to most organic food being sold as conventional.

The new French Prime Minister, baby faced Gabriel Attal, has pledged to encourage French citizens to buy French produce, simplify red-tape, speed up subsidy payments and improve access to water. This may be related to the 90% of French people who support the farmers and their protests – nonetheless it will be interesting to see how the protests and any reconciliation play out.


Why was the sand wet?

The journal Earth’s Future reports on the work of an international team of researchers. They say that resilient food sources are needed to save humanity from starvation in the case of the eruption of a large volcano, or even a nuclear war. Seaweed could be the solution as it is rich in nutrients, and can provide livelihoods for coastal communities in many lower-income countries, particularly those with high levels of sunshine.

“Investing in the construction of seaweed farms could prevent global famine in abrupt sunlight reduction scenarios, potentially averting a significant number of deaths from starvation,” said David Denkenberger, of the University of Canterbury.

However, the researchers also noted that only up to 15 per cent of the human diet could be provided by seaweed due to its high iodine content. Seaweed could also be a viable addition to global food security now – often eaten in salads or as dried food wraps, it is rich in proteins, minerals, vitamins, essential amino acids and fatty acids.


Tweet of the week

This from Gareth Wynn Jones shared by FarmingUK – for the full video clip see link here.