For the British farming industry to thrive we must be even more ambitious in our objectives, and aim to be world-class in an ever more competitive and demanding industry suggests Richard Whitlock, the 2015 OFCChairman. This year we will introduce a very strong line-up of speakers representing all views on modern farming.
Announcing the launch of the 2015 conference programme,being held on 6-8 January 2015, he said, “At next year’s conference we will explore how important it is to recognise that ultimately success comes from within.”
The conference will launch a valuable piece of research as part of the programme, which asks, Great British farmers – what gives them the edge? “The Oxford Farming Conference has earned a reputation for delivering insightful and challenging research for delegates and the wider industry,” Mr Whitlock says. “This year we have commissioned The Andersons Centre to research and write a report on how well UK farmers compare with their global counterparts farming in other parts of the world, what they do well and what holds them back. Burges Salmon, HSBC and Syngenta have kindly sponsored the 2015 research.
The conference falls at a politically charged time. In addition to the manoeuvring ahead of the General Election and following theScottish Independence Referendum, devolution and national identity have become hotly debated topics. The line-up for the first morning is: Rt. Hon. ElizabethTruss, Defra Secretary of State; Huw Irranca Davies MP, Shadow Minister Environment, Food and Rural Affairs; Stuart AgnewMEP UKIP’s Agricultural Spokesman and Richard Lochhead, the ScottishGovernment’s Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, Food and the Environment.
“We will also hear views from three speakers with very differing agricultural viewpoints. George Monbiot, a columnist for The Guardian and a famed critic of intensive farming, will be followed by David Caffall of the Agricultural Industries Confederation who will robustly defend best practice in commercial farming as pressure increases from single issue policy makers and campaigners, and Apollo Onyango from Kenya, a horticulturalist already adopting pest control techniques in preparation for a reduced chemical armoury,” Mr Whitlock explained.
This year’s Frank Parkinson Lecture will be from LordJohn Krebs, Principal of Jesus College, Oxford, a cross bencher in the House ofLords and the first Chairman of the Food Standards Agency. An academic with strong views on farming, he has previously entered two polarised debates on whether organic food is better for us and if badger culling will prevent cattle contracting TB. Leading the charge on innovative business will be Iowa farmer, Dave Nelson, who has spearheaded huge growth in his family’s farming business by inspiring great staff and implementing precision technology with strip and conservation tillage.
“Throughout the conference delegates will have many opportunities to debate with speakers and fellow attendees. Oxford also offers some of the best networking anywhere in British agriculture. Our tickets usually sell out within four weeks of sales opening, so I’d urge anyone who really wants to join us to book as soon as they can.”
Ticket sales go online from 17 October, these can be booked and full conference details accessed via www.ofc.org.uk.The conference will start from 14.30 on Tuesday 6 January through to the afternoon of the 8 January. Delegates have the option of staying on for theOxtail Dinner on the evening of 8 January.