Bookings are now being taken for the 2009 Oxford Farming conference, which will be held at the Oxford University Examination Halls on 5-7 January.

The theme for 2009 will be “The Future of Farming is in Your Hands” and it will explore how British farmers can respond to global market forces, might profit from consumer choice and how different approaches to food policy continue to shape agriculture.

“The opening morning will be electric with Hilary Benn MP and his Scottish counterpart Richard Lochhead inevitably locking horns on the rural policy differences adopted nationally and within the devolved regions,” said Teresa Wickham, OFC chairman.

Oxford has a reputation for innovative content and attracting high calibre speakers and 2009 is no exception. Speakers also include Agust Gudmundsson, chief executive at Bakkavor, the international fresh food manufacturer, Charles Wilson, chief executive of Bookers, and Martin Taylor, chief executive of Long Clawson Dairy.

A number of producers will also be speaking including Mark and Paul Hayward of Dingley Dell outdoor pork, Jim Brown, who runs a beef enterprise in the Borders, and LEAF farmers Rob Addicott and Jeremy Padfield.

For the first time, Oxford has commissioned the IGD to conduct research on consumer perceptions about farming. David Yelland, a former Editor of The Sun and now a PR guru, will talk how the industry can communicate better and improve its image.

The Oxford Union debate is back by popular demand and this year the protagonists will be Essex farmer Guy Smith and Country Life Editor Clive Aslet. They will tackle the motion “This House believes that it is immoral to use land for anything other than food production”.

Bookings for the 2009 conference can be made via the OFC website at www.ofc.org.uk.