19th October 2012 @ 4:27PM
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 work, which is being undertaken by Dr Peter Carruthers of Vision 37 Ltd and Professor Michael Winter, Professor & Director of the Centre for Rural Policy Research at the University of Exeter aims to establish the extra value from UK Farming beyond the usual measures, such as GDP.
"We want to look at the full range of economic, environmental and social sources of value farmers contribute to wider society," explains Mike Gooding, 2013 OFC Chairman.
"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 like 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 research, which has been co-sponsored by Burges Salmon, the RSPB and Volac, will be be presented at the conference in January and will support the event’s overall theme: Confident Farmers - Delivering for Society.
The new political landscape for UK farming will be very prominent at the 2013 Conference. Owen Paterson MP, the recent Defra Ministerial appointee, will open the Conference followed by Mairead McGuinness an MEP on the EU Agriculture and Rural Development Committee. Joining them from New Zealand will be Hon John Luxton, Chairman of Dairy New Zealand and farmer Jim McLaren, Chairman of Quality Meat Scotland.
A series of probing speakers will challenge delegates to think differently - environmental campaigner Mark Lynas is certain to be bold and controversial about how the industry is going to play its part in meeting the challenges facing humanity, and how considering change today requires a different approach. Dairy housing pioneer, Yehuda Sprecher will turn our thinking on its head about what animals need and how we can deliver, whilst Bill Mustoe Chairman of First Milk, will give his vision of the future of supply chains.
Fundamental questions on science will probe how far technical development can help meet the challenges with speakers including Maurice Maloney from Rothamsted Research, Nuffield scholar, Jake Freestone and David Gardner, CEO of RASE looking in to a range of developments including genetics and precision farming.
The Oxford Union Debate will see farmer, politician and entrepreneur Wilfred Emmanuel-Jones, MD of The Black Farmer enter verbal combat with John Cameron, Europe's largest sheep farmer, when they debate the motion “This house believes economies of scale in agriculture are overstated - size is not important.” They will be joined by two finalists from The Young Advocates for Agriculture in what has become an iconic evening’s entertainment.