Farm Gate Podcast
Farm Gate is the regenerative agriculture podcast, focussed on practical solutions for climate and food security. The topics covered are relevant for everyone who eats, but is particularly intended for farmers, food chain professionals, and policy-makers. Every week or two our host ffinlo Costain will bring our listeners stories of the people and solutions that is shaping a regenerative future for food and agriculture.
Farm Gate is a co-production between Farmwel and FAI Farms, and you can subscribe to Farm Gate wherever you listen to podcasts, including Apple Podcasts, Anchor, Spotify, Breaker, and Google Podcasts.
Other Places to Listen
EPISODE 59, October 6th, 2021:
ffinlo Costain talks to Vicki Hird - a farming expert and author who's been at the heart of environmental, food and agricultural policy discussions for over 30 years. Her new book, Rebugging The Planet, is set to be the must-buy stocking filler for Christmas this year.
EPISODE 58, September 21st, 2021:
Do farm animals experience emotions, or are the behaviours people perceive as emotions purely an instinctive response? Do cows, for example, feel happy or depressed? And should a farm animal's ability to react instinctively, or to respond emotionally, affect the way that we care for and handle livestock?
EPISODE 57, August 18th, 2021:
The best solutions for land use deliver multiple outcomes - especially in places where land is relatively scarce and expensive. What if we could combine the farming of electricity from the sun with land management that regenerates the soil and produces high quality nutrition?
EPISODE 56, August 2nd, 2021:
This year's UN Food Systems Summit is being seen by many as an opportunity to define the future of food. The summit may also be the launch pad for a new science & policy interface - what's being described as an 'IPCC for Food'. But do we really need an IPCC for Food? Shouldn't we simply better fund and better utilise the mechanisms we already have?
EPISODE 55, July 20th, 2021:
In this programme, ffinlo Costain discusses corporate sustainability and green wash, with Benet Northcote and Ed Gillespie. Is it possible for large companies to become genuinely sustainable - or will greed always triumph over green? Benet is a senior adviser at Seahorse Environmental and the deputy chair of the UK's Conservative Environment Network. Prior to that he was the director of corporate responsibility for the John Lewis Partnership, and worked as deputy private secretary to The Prince of Wales. Ed Gillespie is a facilitator for the Forward Institute and co-founder of the sustainability agency, Futerra. He is also a co-presenter of Jon Richardson and the Futurenauts and a director of Greenpeace UK.
EPISODE 54, July 8th, 2021:
FAI Farms and McDonald's UK & Ireland have won Compassion in World Farming's prestigious Sustainable Food and Farming Award for their work on regenerative beef. This is a four year project, centred on Adaptive Multi-paddock Grazing. The results have been outstanding - so what are they - how have they been achieved - and what has FAI learned along the way?
EPISODE 53, July 6th, 2021:
This podcast is about the power and importance of communities. To address the climate emergency, there is an urgent need to cede power to ordinary people so that they can design and deliver the changes necessary in their neighbourhoods.
EPISODE 52, June 29th, 2021:
The impact of climate change is already being felt by communities, through flooding and droughts. Farmers are the first responders to these impacts, as well as being one of the few economic sectors that can act as a sink, rather than a source, of carbon. So what are farmers doing happen differently on farms, and how can the UK speed this change?
EPISODE 51, June 14th, 2021:
Land Unlocked is a podcast collaboration between Farm Gate and the Food, Farming and Countryside Commission. This occasional series will feature a range of high-level speakers exploring the challenges of delivering real action at this year’s COP26 conference and other major global events taking place in 2021. Programmes will be broadcast on the Farm Gate channel.
In this programme, ffinlo Costain discusses land use, economics, optimism and story-telling, with Christiana Figueres and Professor Tim Jackson.
EPISODE 50, June 8th, 2021:
In this programme we delve into the origins of regenerative agriculture, and what it means to be 'indigenous with the earth'. What is this knowledge? Where does it come from? Can anyone claim ownership over regenerative principles?
EPISODE 49, June 1st, 2021:
In this programme we visit Sierra Leone. We discuss how this West African country managed to stop Chinese, Russian, Korean and European vessels plundering their fish stocks, how stakeholders built a sustainable fisheries programme, and the challenges for international organisations such as the World Bank. We also address the controversy over Sierra Leone's new Chinese-funded harbour project.
EPISODE 48, May 25th, 2021:
The Marine Stewardship Council is an international NGO working to protect oceans and safeguard seafood supplies for the future. The Netflix film Seaspiracy concluded that sustainable seafood doesn't exist - but the MSC disagrees. Currently, 16% of the world's wild caught fish is certified and carries its blue MSC ecolabel, and the organisation aims to have 30% engaged in its programme by 2030.
EPISODE 47, May 18th, 2021:
The Isle of Man is home to one of the most successful sustainable shell fish fisheries in the British Isles. Developed over a period of 30 years, their Marine Nature Reserve now accounts for 52% of Manx coastal waters, and their Ramsey Bay scallops are the biggest in Britain.
EPISODE 46, May 6th, 2021:
Since 2013 more seafood has been produced globally in aquaculture systems than from wild caught fisheries. The farming of fish at scale has come with costs as well as benefits, and as a relatively young industry, aquaculture has followed a steep learning curve.
EPISODE 45, April 21st, 2021:
In the wake of Seaspiracy, we're running a series of programmes about the future of wild and farmed seafood. The vast majority of wild caught fish are now harvested by industrial-scale trawlers using vast and often indiscriminate nets and bottom trawling. At the same time aquaculture, which has scaled so rapidly, has come under fire for high levels of waste and pollution and for poor welfare. So, what's next for ocean food?
EPISODE 44, April 14th, 2021:
This is the final programme in our recent series about agroecological agriculture. ffinlo Costain talks to David Finlay from The Ethical Dairy in Dumfries and Galloway, and Bryce Cunningham from Mossgiel Farm in Ayrshire. The conversation focusses on building a market for direct liquid milk sales, and on cow with calf dairying.
EPISODE 43, March 30th, 2021:
Do we need a new state-owned Agroecology Development Bank for Britain? The Food, Farming & Countryside Commission thinks so. Their new report, 'Farming Smarter: Investing in our Future', says that an ADB would speed the transition to fair and nature-friendly farming – by filling the current gap in available finance, and building knowledge about agroecological agriculture in the financial sector.
EPISODE 42, March 23rd, 2021:
In this programme we talk about racism, and discuss how to improve diversity in British agriculture and animal sciences. We consider how to successfully encourage more of our black, Asian and minority ethnic population to enjoy the countryside.
EPISODE 41, March 16th, 2021:
What's the difference between agroecology and regenerative agriculture? And what about holistic grazing, organic, no-till farming, or adaptive multi-paddock grazing? In this programme we get to the bottom of the terminology.
EPISODE 40, March 9th, 2021:
This is the fourth programme in our series about agroecological agriculture. ffinlo Costain talks to Sinead Fenton from Aweside Farm in East Sussex, and to Joe Rolfe, the general manager at RB Organic Ltd in Norfolk.
EPISODE 39, February 23rd, 2021:
This is the third in our agroecology series. ffinlo Costain talks to George Young from Fobbing Farm in Essex, and Johnnie Balfour from Balbirnie Farm in Fife. George and Johnnie 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's Farming for Change project. Other episodes focus on beef farming, mixed farming, dairy, and horticulture & veg.
EPISODE 38, February 16th, 2021:
This is the first of two programmes investigating the rise of meat alternatives. ffinlo Costain talks to Raychel E Santo, a senior research programme coordinator at the Johns Hopkins Center for a Liveable Future. Raychel is the lead author on the research paper, Considering Plant-Based Meat Substitutes and Cell-Based Meats: A Public Health and Food Systems Perspective.
EPISODE 37, February 9th, 2021:
This is the second in our agroecology series, and in this episode we're focussing on mixed farming. ffinlo Costain talks to Ben Andrews from Broadward Hall in Herefordshire, and Robert Wilson from Cowbog Farm in the Scottish Borders. Ben and Robert 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's Farming for Change project.
EPISODE 36, February 2nd, 2021:
In the second of Farm Gate's Regenerative Agriculture Question Time podcasts, ffinlo Costain is joined by Clare Hill, shepherd and director of regenerative agriculture at FAI Farms, George Young, a regenerative arable producer from Fobbing Farm, Essex, and Caroline Grindrod from the regenerative agriculture consultancy, Roots of Nature.
In this superb Q&A we talk regenerative cereals, pest control, out-wintering livestock & what regen farmers need from vets.
EPISODE 35, January 26th, 2021:
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.
EPISODE 34, January 19th, 2021:
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.
EPISODE 33, December 17th, 2020:
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.
EPISODE 32, December 2nd, 2020:
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.
EPISODE 31, November 24th, 2020:
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.
EPISODE 30, November 17th, 2020:
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.
EPISODE 29, November 10th, 2020:
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.
EPISODE 28, October 5th, 2020:
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.
EPISODE 27, September 22nd, 2020:
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.
EPISODE 26, September 10th, 2020:
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.
EPISODE 25, August 4th, 2020:
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.
EPISODE 24, July 7th, 2020:
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.
EPISODE 23, June 16th, 2020:
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.
EPISODE 22, May 26th, 2020:
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?
EPISODE 21, May 11th, 2020:
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.
EPISODE 20, May 5th, 2020:
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?
EPISODE 19, April 28th, 2020:
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.
EPISODE 18, April 20th, 2020:
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?
EPISODE 17, April 14th, 2020:
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.
EPISODE 16, April 7th, 2020:
'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.
EPISODE 15, March 31st, 2020:
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.
EPISODE 14, March 24th, 2020:
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?
EPISODE 13, March 14th, 2020:
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.
EPISODE 12, March 6th, 2020:
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.
EPISODE 11, March 2nd, 2020:
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?
EPISODE 10, February 24th, 2020:
Signatories to the NGO-backed 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, Nestle, M&S and Unilever.
EPISODE 9, February 20th, 2020:
Dominic Cummings, the UK Prime Minister's strategist-in-chief, has said that he wants to shake up Government. He wants to break the alleged stranglehold that the civil service has over policy development & delivery. He's asked for ideas - and we want to help.
EPISODE 8, February 11th, 2020:
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.
EPISODE 7, February 3rd, 2020:
On this week's episode host ffinlo Costain talks to Graham Morgan MBE, about farming, mental health, and mental illness. A farming life is generally a good life but it can be demanding and stressful. It's hardly a surprise that farmers and rural workers can feel isolated, depressed, or unable to cope.
EPISODE 5 & 6, January 28th, 2020:
This week we are launching two episodes asking the question 'How can farm vets contribute to sustainability?' The first episode is interview led, the second is a more free-flowing discussion, featuring three influential UK veterinarians. Veterinarians visit farms every day and can play a critical role in helping to advocate for genuine sustainability on farm - taking into account environmental, ethical and economic dimensions. The concept of OneHealth suggests good animal health is linked to good welfare, which may also go hand-in-hand with improved environmental performance. Looking beyond the farm vets' traditional role these two episodes suggest they can help farmers transition away from the most intensive farm production systems, keep global warming below two degrees centigrade, and re-build biodiversity.
EPISODE 4, January 22nd, 2020:
In terms of land use today there are three things that really matter – high quality food production, climate change mitigation, and nature restoration. A great farm must do all three. In this episode of Farm Gate we are talking to a rock star of regenerative farming, a phenomenally successful sugar producer, an inventor, and philosopher. His sugar farm is a living proof that regenerative agriculture provides the blueprint for the global land use reform we all depend upon, and the transition we urgently need.
EPISODE 3, January 22nd, 2020:
With UK's imminent departure from the European Union on the 31st of January, Farm Gate sat down with the Conservative Environment Network to discuss their plans for how to tackle the connected challenges of agriculture, land use and climate change in a post Brexit era. We asked, what are the big opportunities arising from Brexit?
EPISODE 2, January 14th, 2020:
It seems pretty crazy that we've reached the stage where this question is asked - but with food becoming central to the war against global climate crisis people's personal choices about what they eat have become a major battle ground. Do you think you are a better person because you're a vegan; or because you only eat meat from grass fed livestock, or perhaps because you refuse to eat anything that's been produced further than 20 miles away? Or rather than judging each other's food choices, could we instead focus on what each parcel of land, and the landscape around it, could best produce in balance with nature?
EPISODE 1, January 9th, 2020:
In our very first episode we investigate the role of ruminant methane in global warming. Research by a global team of scientists based at the University of Oxford provides a new way of measuring the impacts of methane on global warming - a metric known as GWP*. Methane is a short-lived gas and its warming potential should be considered differently from carbon dioxide, a long-lived gas. GWP* allows farmers to accurately measure the impact of ruminant methane and suggests a path for how ongoing ruminant production can be compatible with ambitious climate targets seeking to limit further temperature increases.