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  • Written by: Farmers Guide
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A bold future for farming to lead the OFC 2016 debate

An agricultural sector with ambition needs to be bold andentrepreneurial, says Al Brooks, 2016 OFC Chairman.  Renewed boldness must return to farming ifour businesses are to thrive. Like it or not, safe and low-risk attitudesbelong in a bygone era, we need to look forward over a horizon filled withopportunity.”

Announcing the launch of the 2016 conference programme, being held on 5-7January 2016, Mr Brooks said: “Next year’s conference we will focus onbold agriculture by this we mean bold decisions, bold vision and boldactions. The 2016 conference will expose you to the people, science andbusinesses that epitomise these descriptions; they will inform you, challengeyou and inspire you delivering the Oxford mantra.

The conference will also present a valuable piece of research as part ofthe programme, which asks whether its in a farmers nature or their nurturethat makes them an entrepreneur.

The Oxford Farming Conference has earned a reputation for deliveringinsightful and challenging research for delegates and the wider industry, Mr Brooksadds. “This year we have commissioned The Andersons Centre in partnershipwith the Bettany Centre for Entrepreneurship at Cranfield to explore what makesa farming entrepreneur and leader.  The2016 research has been kindly sponsored by Burges Salmon.

There will be  two sessions ofintense political debate;  hear the EU AgriculturalCommissioner Phil Hogan debate the EU In/Out Referendum with Owen Paterson.Kerry McCarthy, the Shadow Defra Secretary has confirmed her attendance, and wehave also invited Secretary of State Liz Truss MP to join the conference. 

Within the 2016 conference line-up we will explore step-changes inscience and hear from inspiring scientists including David Fischhoff, ChiefScientist at The Climate Corporation, the company acquired by Monsanto in 2013for US$930 million; and Haven Baker of Idaho-based Simplot, a plant sciencesbusiness responsible for developing the super-trait Innate potato variety.

Also speaking in this session will be Neil Perkins, an innovative sheepfarmer from Wales who follows a system of increased output and geneticimprovement through detailed data collection of grass yield and sheepproduction and Julian Marks, MD of the pioneering Barfoots of Botley business,who are farmers, growers, processors and packers of a range of exotic and semiexotic vegetables, for UK and European retailers. This business has recentlyfeatured in the BBC 2 Harvest series.

This year’s Frank Parkinson Lecture will be from the brilliant scientistDr Bram Govearts from CIMMYT in Mexico. He is a Belgian, still in his 30s, whois challenging the status quo on how science can address the issue of farmingssustainability, with his Take it to the Farmer approach to R&D.

Four speakers with different perspectives will debate whether food asthe new medicine can create more opportunities for our sector. Well hearfrom  Susan Jebb, Professor of Diet andPopulation Health at the University of Oxford; Judith Batchelar of Sainsbury;Dr Pearse Lyons, Founder and President of Alltech, and James Withers, theinnovative CEO of Scotland Food & Drink.

We also have some hugely inspiring farmers who will blow your mind withtheir entrepreneurial drive, Mr Brooks maintains.  Craig Carr from New Zealand joined the familyboardroom table aged 12, he is now MD of the Carr Group which has an annualturnover exceeding NZ$300 million. Emlyn Evans is a farmers son fromWarwickshire who will talk through his familys highly successful storage anddocument management business, The Squab Group.

Throughout the conference delegates will have many opportunities todebate with speakers and fellow attendees. The motion for the 2016 Oxford UnionDebate is: This house believes that agriculture is an equal opportunitiesindustry.”

The Oxford Farming Conference offers some of the best networkinganywhere in British agriculture. Tickets usually sell out within four weeks ofsales opening, so anyone who really wants to attend is urged to book as soon aspossible. 

Full conference details and bookings can be made via Theconference will start from 14.30 on Tuesday 5 January through to the afternoonof the 7 January. Delegates have the option of staying on for the Oxtail Dinneron the evening of 7 January.


  • Written by: Farmers Guide
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