‘Business as usual in 2021’ says Oxford Farming Conference chairman

Agricultural community to gather online for one-day digital event.

The chairman of the 2021 Oxford Farming Conference (OFC) will urge members of the agriculture and rural affairs sector to adopt a business as usual approach during the year ahead when she addresses delegates at this week’s digital event.

Sally Williams will deliver her message on Thursday (7 January), just seven days after the UK’s departure from the European Union and while the country is in the grip of a global pandemic which is changing life and business as the sector once knew it.

Leading figures from across the food, farming and rural community will log on for the 75th running of the OFC since its inception in 1936, which due to Covid-19 is being held online rather that at its traditional Oxford University venue.

Delegates will hear from a number of high-profile speakers during the course of the one-day event as well as enjoy online networking and Q and A sessions.

The future of UK agriculture will fall under the spotlight during the conference’s politics session which features environment secretary George Eustice MP, Scottish rural economy secretary Fergus Ewing MSP, and Lesley Griffiths MS, minister for environment, energy and rural affairs, Wales.

Elsewhere, John Elkington, the so-called ‘Godfather of Sustainability’, will offer his views on how corporates and supply chains are responding to global sustainability challenges during the Frank Parkinson Lecture, while OFC Patron, HRH The Princess Royal, Princess Anne will share her reflections on the conference.

Thrings is maintaining its long-term commitment to the conference by co-sponsoring the virtual OFC Debate which this year has as its motion "this house believes that first generation farmers are better than fourth”.

The motion will be proposed by Nikki Yoxall - who two years ago swapped life in Sussex for rural Aberdeenshire to become a livestock farmer and found Grampian Graziers – and opposed by Peter Wiggins-Davies, managing director of the 6,350-acre, family-owned Revesby Estate in Lincolnshire. The debate will be chaired by TV presenter and rural business consultant, Aled Rhys Jones.

Joining delegates at the OFC will be Duncan Sigournay, head of agriculture at Thrings, who will use the conference to keep abreast of developments across the food and farming sectors and liaise with his industry contacts.

Duncan says: “Thrings had no hesitation in continuing its support for the OFC. While we will miss the physical conference and the opportunity to catch up with clients and industry contacts, the organisers have put together a fantastic programme which will be accessible to many more people than usual.

“So much has happened to both farming and the country over the past year. With the ongoing effect of a global pandemic, the trade talks and resulting fallout from Brexit, and the impact of the recently enacted Agriculture Act, it’s fair to say 2021 is unlikely to be any quieter.”

To read more about the 2021 OFC, please click here.

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