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Royal potato crop is flavour of the season

For many Jersey Royal new potatoes are a delicious eat. They are also a sign that Spring is here, even if the weather suggests otherwise.

Supermarkets are stocking up with the potatoes; 40,000 tonnes are handpicked every year with farmers packing up 80 bags a minute, 24 hours a day.

Our reporter Wesley Smith has been to see the Jersey Royal's journey from field to fork.

Students learn about farm safety

Agricultural students at Abingdon and Witney College will be learning about farm safety today.

It's part of an initiative by the National Farmers Union to try and raise awareness of the risks involved with the industry and reduce the number of injuries and fatalities every year.

They'll be put in real-life situations and have to decide what action to take to prevent accidents happening.

Agricultural students in Abingdon will be taught about farm safety Credit: ITV Meridian

"Young people are such an important target group for this farm safety message as the future of the industry.

"As technology advances within farming, the risk of accidents can actually increase. While the safety of machinery and equipment has improved, the fact that machines can do so much more can make people complacent. It's fantastic to have an outside organisation like the Farm Safety Foundation come in to help us deliver this vital message and for the students to face scenarios they could come across on their own farms when they go home or in their future workplace."

– Pam Willsher, Head of Faculty Land Based Industries & Life Sciences

Farmer asks: could you adopt some of my hens?

Have you ever kept hens? No? Well now's your chance! A farmer in Sussex needs to find new homes for thousands of them. Regulations on egg producers force them to get rid of the birds when they're only 18 months old. Usually they're slaughtered. But Susie Macmillan is determined that her hens should live out their days peacefully. Malcolm Shaw reports.

The farm's link is here.

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Region's fruit 'could be left to rot on the trees' because of higher wages

Fruit farmers are warning that the introduction of the National Living Wage could mean they can't afford to hire seasonal labour. And without the pickers, the fruit would be left to rot on the trees. But politicians say to pay all workers the going rate is essential. John Ryall spoke to Kent fruit farmer David Figgis and the Conservative MP for Bexhill and Battle, Huw Merriman.

Nine sheep killed as dogs rampage through field

Police are appealing for information after a flock of sheep were killed and injured on a farm in Sussex. It's thought the ewes - mostly expecting lambs - were attacked by dogs. Nine died and many more were seriously hurt.

Sheep worrying is a constant menace for farmers across our region. Now dog owners are being warned to keep their pets under control, or face prosecution. Malcolm Shaw reports.

Dog owner sought by police after attack on sheep

The owner of a dog that attacked two sheep near Playden in Sussex is being sought by police.

The German Shepherd/Belgian Malinois dog was spotted in fields in the Bowlers Town area, off the A268 Rye Road.

It was standing by the two badly injured sheep around 10.30am on Monday but ran off when approached by the landowner. It was black and tan and wearing a black harness with a large silver disc attached to its collar.

One of the sheep died at the scene and the other had to be put down due to the severity of its injuries.

Sussex Police said: 'Dogs should always be kept under full control, ideally on leads, especially while walking where there is livestock. Owners also need to check their own boundary fences and keep their dogs contained within their own property."

Sun shines on 'best in show'

It's shaping up as a challenging year for the region's farmers - a year that started with hundreds of acres of farmland swamped by floods.

But the sun shone today for the start of the South of England Show and the message to consumers from farmers was simple - buy local.

Andy Dickenson was there and spoke to Environment Secretary Owen Paterson MP, Minette Batters of the NFU, and Michael Lambert of the South of England Society.

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