OFC 2010: Upstart challenges Oxford conference

The agricultural industry’s annual New Year event – the Oxford Farming Conference – is being challenged by a new rival.

The new conference, provocatively called the Oxford Real Farming Conference, is due to take place on 5 January.

Delegates will gather at a venue just minutes away from the main conference hall on the first full day of the 60-year-old event. Each event has separate backers and organisers. While the established conference is chiefly concerned with agribusiness and policy, the new event will focus on health, the environment, animal welfare and new opportunities in the countryside.

Keynote speakers at the Oxford Farming Conference include heavy-hitting politician DEFRA secretary Hilary Benn. Speakers at the Oxford Real Farming Conference include Soil Association director Patrick Holden.

Colin Tudge, founder of the Campaign for Real Farming, which has helped organise the new conference, said its main aim was to promote a wholly new farming economy, one better able to meet today’s needs.

“Our present system of agriculture is not designed to feed people. Instead it seeks to maximise financial returns, and that is quite different. If we really want to feed everyone well we’ll have to rethink farming from first principles,” he said.

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