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Farm Gate

Farm Gate

By ffinlo Costain
The regenerative agriculture podcast, in search of practical solutions for climate and food security.
A co-production from Farmwel and FAI Farms.
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Farming Beef - Putting agroecology into practice
This is the first of five programmes in which we showcase farmers who are putting agroecology into practice.  In this episode we're focussing on beef production.  ffinlo Costain talks to Nikki Yoxall from Howe Mill Farm in Aberdeenshire, and Denise Walton from Peelham Farm in Berwickshire.  Nikki and Denise are Agroecology Ambassadors for the Soil Association. This series is supporting the 10 Years for Agroecology campaign run by the Soil Association and the Food, Farming & Countryside Commission.  Other episodes will focus on mixed farming, arable, dairy, and horticulture & veg. #FarmerAmbassador #agroecology #FarmingforChange
January 25, 2021
The one with Will Harris
White Oak Pastures is a 152-year-old family farm in Bluffton, Georgia, USA.  In 1995, Will Harris began the transition away from industrial agricultural techniques and started redesigning his farm as a living ecosystem.  Will Harris talks to ffinlo Costain about his life as a commodity cattleman and what made him change the way he farms.  He describes the dark early days and reflects on how his success brought his family back home, and breathed new life into his community.  He explains why he gets fed up with scientists, who 'bicker and fight all the time' over how to measure carbon, when the benefits are there in the ground for all to see.  Will also offers up words of wisdom for President Biden's new Agriculture Secretary.
January 19, 2021
Regenerative finance: The one with Robyn O'Brien
In this programme, ffinlo Costain talks to Robyn O'Brien, the best-selling author of The Unhealthy Truth, who in September 2020 was named in the Forbes Impact 50, a list of the top impact investors in the USA.  Robyn's TED talks have received over a million views. The discussion centres on Robyn's new investment fund, RePlant Capital, which is based in the USA and worth $250m.  RePlant’s flagship fund, its Soil Fund, is focussed on the transition of US farmland to regenerative agriculture. 
December 17, 2020
Regen Rock Star
Farm Gate host, ffinlo Costain, interviews Leontino Balbo Junior (Balbo Group), who produces 35% of the world's organic sugar.  Speaking direct from Brazil, Leontino explains how he transformed his farm ( from standard agriculture to a high yield regenerative success story.  
December 9, 2020
Is a progressive UK trade policy possible?
The new UK Trade & Agriculture Commission was set up by the Department of International Trade to guide ministers as they develop a policy that balances the need for independent trade deals with the ambitions of the new Agriculture Act and the coming Environment Bill.   In this podcast we ask, is a progressive UK trade and agriculture policy possible? ffinlo Costain speaks to Tom West, UK Environment Lead at Client Earth, and Angela Francis, WWF UK's Chief Advisor on Economics and Economic Development.
December 1, 2020
Tackling antimicrobial resistance
It's World Antimicrobial Awareness Week, so we're doing our bit.  What is antimicrobial resistance - why is it a problem - what are the drivers  - and what can we do about it?   ffinlo Costain is joined by Laura  Higham from Vet Sustain and by Øistein Thorsen the chief executive of FAI Farms.
November 24, 2020
How green is the new CAP?
Despite the early green ambitions, the new Common Agricultural Policy may end up looking rather like business as usual.  But, following policy delays, the CAP will now be delivered under the EU presidency of Ursula von der Leyen.  The new Commission has prioritised environmental action, and the Farm to Fork Strategy is at the heart of the European Green Deal. In this programme I'm crossing the English Channel to find out what's happening with agricultural policy in mainland Europe? ffinlo Costain speaks to Nick Jacobs, the Director of IPES Food, and to Pierre-Marie Aubert, the Coordinator of the European Agriculture Initiative for IDDRI. IPES Food's influential 2019 report, Towards a Common Food Policy for the EU, can be found here.
November 17, 2020
English agriculture policy - Where are we now?
The UK Agriculture Bill has gone for Royal Assent, but much of the detail remains uncertain.  UK producers are also concerned that food imports won't meet British environmental and farm animal welfare standards.  So, where are we up to with agricultural policy reform? ffinlo Costain speaks to Shadow Farming Minister, Daniel Zeichner MP, Vicki Hird, Head of Sustainable Food and Farming Policy at Sustain, and to Simon Hoare, Conservative MP for North Dorset. 
November 10, 2020
Regen Question Time
This programme is for every farmer who's ever thought about transitioning to regenerative agriculture.  It's our first Regen Question Time and in it our experts set out to answer questions submitted by farmers by Twitter, email, and through the Primal Web forum.   Regenerative agriculture requires a complete mindset shift.  Instead of rules there are principles, which can make transitioning process seem daunting.  To help with this, every six or eight weeks, we'll put your questions to regen experts.  Our intention is to help you make decisions about the future of your farm business.  (The insights will also be interesting for everyone who wants to know more about regenerative agriculture.) In this first Regen Question Time, ffinlo Costain talks to Caroline Grindrod and Alex Tomlinson.
October 5, 2020
Scaling regenerative agriculture
In this programme ffinlo Costain discusses Forum for the Future's new report, 'Growing Our Future', with report author, Lesley Mitchell, Forum's Associate Director for Sustainable Nutrition. Growing Our Future concentrates on scaling regenerative agriculture in the United States.  It describes threats and opportunities surrounding regen and makes a series of recommendations for a successful regenerative transformation.  While the report is centred on the USA its findings and recommendations are just as relevant for farmers, investors and policy-makers in other nations.
September 22, 2020
What's changing at FAI Farms?
FAI Farms has worked with big name global food brands to embed sustainability at the heart of their supply chains for more than 20 years.  Recently the FAI brand and business was bought by the management.  In this podcast ffinlo Costain talks to Øistein Thorsen, FAI's Chief Executive, and to Carly Scott, their director of sustainable operations.
September 9, 2020
What's happening to food & agriculture in Wales?
Since 2017 the Food, Farming and Countryside Commission has helped to shape the UK's conversation about food - where it comes from, how it's produced, how far it travels, and where and how it gets sold and eaten.  In this programme we discuss the FFCC's Wales Inquiry Report - the Wales Field Guide for Future Generations. Joining ffinlo Costain are Sue Pritchard, Chief Executive of the FFCC, and Jane Davidson, chair of the Commission's Wales Inquiry, and former Minister for Environment, Sustainability and Housing in the Welsh Government.
August 4, 2020
The one with the WHO & IPES Food
Farm Gate host ffinlo Costain discusses Covid 19 and the crisis in our food systems with Dr David Nabarro, Special Envoy of the World Health Organization Director-General on Covid-19, and Prof Melissa Leach CBE, a member of the Brussels-based International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems, otherwise known as IPES-Food.  The discussion includes zoonotic spillover, One Health, and the strengths and weaknesses in the global food system.
July 6, 2020
The Carbon Cowboys
In this podcast, ffinlo Costain talks to Carbon Cowboys producer and director, Peter Byck.  Carbon Cowboys is series of 10 films about regenerative agriculture and adaptive multi-paddock grazing.  They demonstrate the enormous potential of this model of land use and introduce us to some remarkable stories.  Peter Byck is a film-maker and Professor of Practice at Arizona State University, where he's leading a multi-million dollar research project focused on regenerative grazing, soil health & soil carbon storage.
June 15, 2020
Regenerative oceans
Regenerative agriculture has captured the imagination of producers and citizens around the world.  But the focus is almost exclusively on land.  In this programme we ask whether regenerative farming principles can be transposed to the ocean - and if so, at what scale? Featuring Dylan Walker, chief executive of the World Cetacean Alliance, and Alex Tomlinson, a vet and regenerative agriculture specialist.
May 26, 2020
Regen agriculture for kids - The #Homeschool podcast
Regen agriculture for kids Farm Gate has gone all #homeschool.  In this short programme we explain the basics of regenerative agriculture for primary school age kids.  We answer questions about the sun, the rain, dandelions and cow poo - and we ask what's the most important animal in the world?  There are even a couple of experiments you can try at home. The programme features Alex Tomlinson - an amazing mine of information who's working on regenerative farming projects right across Britain.
May 11, 2020
Mass mobilisation, coronavirus & climate change
Coronavirus has generated a monumental response. Political parties philosophically opposed to the Big State have intervened in our lives to an enormous extent. What can we learn from the way that coronavirus has been communicated and the speed of society's response?  How can we apply this knowledge to other public health emergencies, such as climate change and biodiversity loss, which also threaten the existence of human society as we know it. This programme features Jason Wojciechowski, Creative Director at Corelab and a Senior Fellow at the Center for Impact Communication, and Øistein Thorsen, director of FAI Farms.
May 4, 2020
Happy Cow Milk Co. New Zealand
Happy Cow Milk Company, run by Glen Herud, is a cow and calf dairy business based in Christchurch, New Zealand.  It opened in 2014, but after a few years the company ran out of cash.  What happened next was truly remarkable.  Glen's story went viral, and ordinary people from all over the world, chipped in to help keep the business alive.  Now following a fundamental and revolutionary redesign of the distribution system, Happy Cow 2.0 is ready to launch. In this programme Glen Herud tells his story.
April 28, 2020
Sheep lameness & the 5-Point Plan
Sheep lameness is a painful symptom that severely reduces mobility.  It's regarded by many as endemic - ever present, regardless of the efforts made to curb new infections.  But is lameness endemic?  Can better monitoring and treatment effectively eradicate it from flocks? In this episode we discuss how to implement the nationally-adopted FAI Five Point Plan - with Ruth Clements, head of veterinary programmes from Benchmark Animal Health, and by Clare Hill, the farm manager at FAI Farms.
April 20, 2020
Food at the front line
Coronavirus has led to lock down, the loss of work, jobs and income - it has forced people with little or no savings to turn to charities and institutions - just to be able to eat.  Food aid providers, already working to capacity, have had to swiftly adapt their service models to cope with the influx of new, fearful, hungry, and potentially infected, people.   In this programme, Farm Gate speaks to three people working to provide food at the front line of the social crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic: Dee Woods from Granville Community Kitchen (Kilburn, London), Greg Silverman, Executive Director of the West Side Campaign Against Hunger (New York City), and Mark Game, Chief Executive of The Bread and Butter Thing (Greater Manchester, UK).
April 13, 2020
What does 'food security' actually mean?
'Food security' is suddenly on the agenda - but what is it?  Was it ever about calories & cheap food for the masses?  And if it was, isn't it time that we redefined food security for the modern world - recognising the essential role that land use, food system resilience, and nutrition play in ensuring that all citizens can eat, and eat well. This programme features Vicki Hird from Sustain, Professor Tim Benton from Chatham House, and Patrick Holden from the Sustainable Food Trust.
April 7, 2020
Panic buying - a rational reaction to crisis?
In this programme we're looking at the psychology of panic buying - and asking the question, is our food system resilient enough to cope? The media has been full of food jeopardy & empty shelves, but isn't panic buying an entirely reasonable response to crisis?  We've been watching this modern-day plague unfold since the start of the year, and the dramatic lock downs were trailed for weeks before they were enacted.  Despite the abrupt shift in consumer behaviour (we're all eating at home now) supermarkets are generally well-stocked, and farm shops are doing a roaring trade.  I'm joined by Jo White from Human Behaviour Change for Animals - and by Roland Bonney, a co-founder of FAI Farms.
March 31, 2020
What does Less & Better mean?
The term Less & Better is frequently used by NGOs when trying to address consumption patterns to deliver sustainable meat and dairy.  But what does Less & Better mean?  And is it really as unifying as the NGOs would like to believe? This programme features Dr Sara Place, Chief Sustainability Officer at Elanco Animal Health, and former senior director for the United States National Cattlemen's Beef Association, and by Øistein Thorsen, the director of global sustainable food systems consultancy FAI Farms.
March 23, 2020
Why are facts not enough?
Why are facts no longer enough to change attitudes & behaviours?  How can we communicate new ideas & information in the modern world?  How can we persuade people to make the changes necessary to combat environmental & supply chain challenges?  In this programme we look at the psychology of Human Behaviour Change. We're joined by Jo White & Suzanne Rogers from Human Behaviour Change for Animals, & by Ruth Layton, a vet & co-founder of FAI Farms.
March 17, 2020
Farmers unite for global statement on GWP*
Farmers from across the world have issued a Joint Statement calling for governments to recognise the importance of the metric GWP*.  Signatories include the National Farmers' Union, CLA, National Sheep Association, and Beef & Lamb New Zealand.  While recognising that climate change is one of the most urgent challenges we face, farmers leaders are calling for the role of agricultural methane to be accurately recognised in policy and accurately accounted for in the foot-printing of agricultural emissions. ffinlo Costain speaks to Andrew Morrison the chairman of Beef & Lamb New Zealand, and to Phil Stocker, the chief executive of the UK's National Sheep Association.
March 6, 2020
Climate, food & national security
It's widely accepted that climate change can impact on food availability in developing countries, potentially leading to conflict.  But what about developed nations such as the UK or the USA?  Could our own food supplies be threatened by climate change?  Could the complexity of our supply chains make us more vulnerable than we realise?   ffinlo Costain speaks to Caitlin Werrell, the co-founder of the Washington-based Centre for Climate & Security, which works closely with the Pentagon, and to Rear Admiral Neil Morisetti, the UK's former Climate, Energy & Security Envoy.
February 29, 2020
The European Chicken Commitment & KFC
Signatories to the European Chicken Commitment must move from standard intensive indoor production systems for rearing meat chickens, to more humane, extensive indoor systems by the 1st of January 2026.  The Commitment has attracted widespread attention from broiler producers, and several major brands have already signed up - including KFC. How will the Commitment improve the lives and deaths of chickens reared for meat?  What are the practical implications of delivering the required standards, within the established time-frame? In this programme ffinlo Costain talks to Jenny Packwood, Director of Responsibility & Reputation for KFC UK & Ireland, and to Annie Rayner and Kelly Watson, experts in broiler systems and behaviour, working at FAI Farms.
February 23, 2020
Let's help Dominic Cummings! Radical proposals for agricultural reform
Dominic Cummings, the UK Prime Minister's strategist-in-chief, has said that he wants to shake up Government.  He's asked for ideas - and it would be churlish if we didn’t offer to help. ffinlo Costain has spoken to five big beasts of the UK food & farming community: Patrick Holden (Sustainable Food Trust), Mark Bridgeman (CLA), Sue Pritchard (RSA Food, Farming & Countryside Commission), Guy Smith (NFU), & Vicki Hird (Sustain).  Each has two minutes to pitch their reforms, followed by a conversation about their ideas.   The podcast is bursting with grand plans - and it's the perfect length for Dominic Cummings to listen to on his commute.
February 16, 2020
Regenerative farming - making the transition
FAI Farms runs a beef and sheep operation near Oxford, UK, which is currently undergoing a transition from an organic to a regenerative system. With baseline carbon and nature foot-printing in place, progress will be closely monitored. Input costs have already reduced, with livestock now wintering outside on grass. FAI anticipates increasing its herd/flock size while also becoming global warming neutral and boosting biodiversity. In documenting and showcasing the transition in progress, they hope to inspire other farmers and companies to join the regenerative agriculture movement. Farm Gate presenter, ffinlo Costain, talks to farm manager Clare Hill, and regenerative farmer and consultant, Caroline Grindrod, from
February 7, 2020
Farming & mental illness
A farming life is generally a good life but it can be demanding & stressful.  It's hardly surprising that farmers can feel isolated, depressed, or unable to cope.   ffinlo Costain talks to Graham Morgan MBE, about farming, mental health, & mental illness.  Graham works for the Mental Health Commission for Scotland & volunteers with HUG action for mental health.  Graham's book, Start, describes his life, diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia.  It is fresh, unguarded, rather joyful, and surprisingly funny.   Graham recently spoke about mental illness to a conference organised by the National Farmers' Union of Scotland.  
February 1, 2020
Conservatives & the Environment - Interview with Sam Hall
Sam Hall is the director of the highly influential Conservative Environment Network.  With nearly 60 MPs making up its parliamentary caucus, CEN is the most important and influential network of environmentally-motivated Conservative activists and politicians in the United Kingdom.
January 20, 2020
Ruminant methane, global warming, & GWP*
I'm talking to Professor Myles Allen & Dr John Lynch (University of Oxford), & Roland Bonney (farmer, & co-founder of FAI Farms & Benchmark Holdings). Although cattle and sheep produce methane almost constantly, the focus on their emissions is misleading – it’s the warming impact of those emissions that actually matters.  Far from being unsustainable, as many people continue to argue, well-managed grass-based cattle and sheep systems can become rapidly climate neutral and help to restore biodiversity and soil health.  Research by a global team of scientists based at the University of Oxford has established a new way of measuring the impacts of methane - a metric known as GWP*.  This metric allows us to accurately assess the impact of ruminant methane for the first time.
January 8, 2020
Is vegan a dirty word?
Dr Tara Garnett (FCRN) and Caroline Grindrod (Primal Meats) join ffinlo Costain to discuss whether 'vegan' has become a dirty word?
January 4, 2020
Discussion - Vets & sustainability
In this panel discussion, ffinlo Costain is joined by Gudrun Ravetz (former president, British Veterinary Association), and Laura Higham (Vet Sustain).  We discuss the link between animal welfare, and good environmental management and farm performance.
December 29, 2019
Farm vets & food sustainability
Farm Gate host, ffinlo Costain, talks to Laura Higham (FAI Farms/Vet Sustain) and Simon Doherty (British Veterinary Association).  We ask how vets contribute to sustainability - and what’s the link between animal welfare, and good environmental management and performance on farms?
November 22, 2019