The Oxford Farming Conference always stimulates much debate, but with the current political turmoil it should be a lively affair.
The headlining political briefing will see the latest developments in the proposed British Agricultural Policy presented by the Defra Secretary of State and this will be followed by a panel session with his opposition counterpart and NFU President Minette Batters and Dr Clive Black of Research at Shore Capital.
It is anticipated that the discussion will include plans for the new livestock traceability service and the need to put food at the heart of the Agricultural Bill.
The NFU comments that food was noticeably absent from the Agricultural Bill when it was published in September – but making it central to UK policy is a moral obligation, argues NFU president Minette Batters.
She argues that as climate change becomes more serious, the UK may be able to produce food when many parts of the world won’t, making it a “moral imperative” to use British land to grow food, while still having a strong environmental focus. Writing in a blog on the OFC website she observes that it’s not just about food security – but water and green energy security too.
“When I look at how Holland looks after and treats its water system…it is prepared for times of flood and drought,” she says.
Linking food, farming, water, energy and the environment requires a joined up approach that forges partnerships across the whole agri-food industry and others too, says Ms Batters.
Ms Batters came to visit the Agri-Tech East Innovation Hub at the Royal Norfolk Show this year and was impressed with the range of solutions on show.
Oxford Farming Conference 2- 4th January 2019.