The hidden contribution UK farming makes to society is to be evaluated for the first time in a ground-breaking piece of research commissioned by the Oxford Farming Conference (OFC).

The research aims to establish the extra value from farming in the UK beyond the usual measures, such as share of agriculture and allied sectors, to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Mike Gooding, 2013 OFC chairman, said: “We want to look at the full range of economic, environmental and social sources of value farmers contribute to wider society. To date these hidden values have never been accurately quantified.

“We commissioned this work to move the debate forward to bring confidence to the industry about just how much it delivers through activities such as flood defences, public access to green spaces and clean water, and to better understand what society gets from their connection with farming and the countryside.”

The work is being undertaken by Peter Carruthers, of Vision 37 Ltd, and Michael Winter, professor and director of the Centre for Rural Policy Research at the University of Exeter.

Co-sponsored by Burges Salmon, the RSPB and Volac, the research findings will be presented at the conference in January. They will support the event’s overall theme: Confident Farmers – Delivering for Society.

Bookings are now being taken for the conference, which runs from 2-4 January 2013 at Oxford University Examination Schools. For details, visit the website www.ofc.org.uk

Philip Case on G+