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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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Minister promotes UK dairy exports at Oxfordshire farm

Farming Minister visits organic farm in Oxfordshire

Farming Minister, George Eustice has been visiting an organic dairy farm in Oxfordshire which exports cream, milk and cheese.

Step Farm in Faringdon plans to increase its business by 75%. The site is part of a dairy co-operative which exported 40m litres of milk, cheese and cream to European and American markets last year.

The farm belongs to OMSCo (Organic Milk Suppliers' Co-operative) farms, which recently launched Kingdom Cheese, the first European cheese to be certified by the US Department of Agriculture to be sold in the USA.

The Government is working with industry to boost the UK's food and drink exports. The sector is already worth £97 billion a year to the economy.

Farmers worried about losing land to HS2 rail route

The construction of the High Speed 2 rail line will completely destroy the livelihoods of farmers, according to the union that represents them.

The National Farmers' Union says there are 23 farms along the proposed route in Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire which would be seriously affected.

The government says farmers will be compensated - but landowners say the fields left behind would be un-useable. Our Transport Correspondent Mike Pearse reports.

Flood fear for South East farms

The effects of the weather are felt further than homes and shops of course - the rain and wind is hitting farms across the south-east. So what will that mean for crops this year - and prices in the shops?

David Johns has been investigating, talking to farmers Kevin Attwood and Philip Acock as well as farm manager Ian Witherden.

NFU celebrate apple season with Kent consumers

The NFU will celebrate the English apple season with Kent consumers, with visitors being able to sample new season apples.

It is all part of NFU's campaign and petition to 'Back British Farming'.

It has been launched to highlight the decline in the country's self-sufficiency, with aims to boost production and consumption of home-grown food.

More than 1400 people and organisations have already signed the petition, including Waitrose, The Cooperative and celebrity chef James Martin.

Kent NFU chairman James Smith said, "We have had a fabulous response to the Back British Farming campaign so far from MP's, supermarkets and from members of the public. We hope to encourage many more people to sign up to our charter over the coming days."

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Reverse out of here......FAST!

Click video.

Drivers in Kent opted for reverse gear this morning when they were confronted by a bull. The animal appeared on the slip road joining the London-bound A2 from Canterbury.

The video was taken by ITV journalist Jamie Stephens, who said: "I joined the queue just behind the lead vehicles and was initially unaware what had happened as the road was empty ahead, with only a lorry and a van in front of me.

"Then a VERY large bull poked its head round the corner - seemed totally unconcerned at its whereabouts and spent the next 20 minutes wandering across the two carriageways, stopping every once in a while to sniff the odd bonnet.

"No one was quite sure what to do as the bull was more than capable of doing a lot of damage if it wanted to. As a result we all just sat there scratching our heads.

"I'm not entirely sure what happened to the bull, but I suspect a farmer may have led it away. It disappeared after about 20 minutes and the traffic started moving again."

REPORT: Schmallenberg vaccine released

It's a vaccine to combat a disease that causes severe birth defects and miscarriages in livestock - and it is going on sale in Britain for the first time.

It's welcome news for the region's farmers who've become increasingly concerned about the spread of the Schmallenberg virus in cattle and sheep. Latest figures showed more than 1,500 cases of it across the country.

Penny Silvester speaks to farmer David Barber, John Fishwick from Royal Veterinary College and Alick Simmons Deputy Chief Veterinary Officer.

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