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Call for new OFC Directors

The Oxford Farming Conference (OFC) is inviting expressions of interest for three new directors to... read more

Vibrant AgrichatUK session on Oxford 2015 report

Last night, #AgrichatUK hosted a fast and furious session on Twitter about the 2015 OFC report. The... read more

Cool Farm Tool wins OFC/RASE Practice with Science Award

The Cool Farm Tool (CFT), developed by Dr Jon Hillier and his team at Aberdeen University, has won... read more

 
 

OFC Council

For the latest Oxford Farming Conference report and accounts, click here.

Oxford Farming Conference Directors and Honorary Advisors

 

AL BROOKS - Chairman (Oxfordshire)

OFC Term: 2014-16

Al is Farms’ Manager for H. Walker & Son in Oxfordshire and several other associated businesses, which are centred around arable and livestock production systems, primarily Goat Dairying. In addition there a number of rental properties that include residential, light industrial, aeronautical, timber and agricultural uses.  Since joining, the farming operation has expanded, with the addition of extra Contract farming and the expansion of the existing field – scale solar enterprise (to circa 450 acres).  Al was named by the Farmers Weekly as ‘Farm Manager of the Year’ in 2010.  He is a Trustee of the Addington Fund, which is one of the three main farming help charities and he is very active in promoting educational access into the countryside. Having spent the majority of his career in Farm Management, a period of time was spent as National Operations Manager for a large renewables and recycling operation. Al firmly believes that the British Agriculture has a lot to offer on a global scale.

   
 

DAVID TURNER - Honorary Treasurer (East Anglia)

David is a principal in David Turner & Co - a firm of Chartered Accountants and Business Advisers which specialises in landed estates and agriculture. Prior to the formation of David Turner & Co, David was a director with Pricewaterhouse Coopers LLP. In addition to the compliance services offered by David Turner & Co he has wide-ranging experience in handling one-off assignments – including work for the major banks, government institutions and PLCs. David is a governor at Bishop Burton College in Beverley East Yorkshire, where he is also the chair of the audit committee. He has a small farm in East Anglia which he operates via a manager contractor agreement.

 

   

Dr TINA BARSBY (Cambs)

OFC Term: 2014-16

Dr Barsby was appointed Director and CEO of the National Institute of Agricultural Botany (NIAB), Cambridge in September 2008.    She has significant experience in the agricultural crop sector and is internationally recognised for scientific achievements in plant biotechnology.  She has led and managed multifaceted, product driven, research and development programmes in North America and UK/mainland Europe. Tina has a first degree in Agricultural Botany from the University of Wales at Bangor, and a PhD from the University of Nottingham.  She spent a postdoctoral period at Kansas State University, and worked at Allelix Inc, Ontario, Canada for several years before returning to the UK in 1989.  She joined Nickerson UK (now part of the LG Group) where she remained until joining NIAB in 2006. 

   

MARTIN DAVIES (Wales)

OFC Term: 2015-17

As CEO Europe of Westchester Global Investment Agricultural Asset Management, Martin is responsible for farmland investment in Europe for the Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association – College Retirement Equities Fund of America (TIAA-CREF) and other pension schemes that they invest with. Previously he lead the deployment of institutional investors capital in farmland and farming businesses in New Zealand, Australia, Romania, Poland and Chile for a London-based asset management company. After 13 years with the Cooperative Group Farms, his lead into agricultural investing was four years spent working on projects for private investors in Poland, Romania, Bulgaria and Ukraine. Martin is a member of the steering group for Agribenchmark, a global agricultural benchmarking initiative, and was a 2006 Nuffield Scholar. Through a family partnership he owns a small farm in Wales. 

 

   
 

Dr JOHN GILLILAND OBE (Northern Ireland) 

OFC Term: 2016-18

John Gilliland, Director of Agriculture of Devenish Nutrition Ltd and Non Executive Director of SRUC, is highly respected and recognised as an excellent communicator. He specialises in being multidisciplined and brings an entrepreneurial, holistic and innovative approach to all issues he has been engaged with. He has been an award winning innovator, practitioner and strategic business leader; while at the same time, he has been a policy advocate for Devolved, National and European Governments and a Non Executive Director of a collection of Non Departmental and Regulatory Bodies. A former President of the Ulster Farmers Union and a former Director of the HGCA, he currently runs a 400 acre arable farm in N. Ireland, while also bring a Director of Original Heating Ltd and Resourceful Organics Ltd.

 

   

ALAN LAIDLAW (East Lothian)

OFC Term: 2015-17

Portfolio Manager for The Crown Estate, Alan manages the organisation’s rural and coastal interests in Scotland & Northern Ireland. He is responsible for the strategic property management of over 90,000 acres encompassing agriculture, forestry, rural development, minerals, ports & harbours and aquaculture, approximately half of Scotland’s foreshore. A chartered surveyor, he has been with The Crown Estate for eight years, previously managing its rural assets UK wide. Prior to this he was in corporate banking, lending and developing new business in the rural and agribusiness sectors across Northern England and Scotland.  Now living back in his native East Lothian he has a passion for rural business and successful communities. He is a member of the RICS Scotland Rural Professional Board, The Scottish Rural College’s Consultative Committee and The Crown Estate senior management team.

   

ROBERT LASSETER (Dorset) 

OFC Term: 2016-18

Robert Lasseter started his farming business in 1994, outdoor sows with an annual grazing licence, selling weaners off the field. He expanded to sell bacon pigs through the Freedom Food scheme, and diversified into retailing with a business partnership called Genesis Farmers, which was sold in 2012. He started arable farming in 2007, and now produces grain to feed his pigs, creating a more sustainable mixed farm.  
He is a Nuffield Scholar, and member of the IAgMan Leadership Development programme.  He is currently a director of Wessex Grain, a board member of HGCA,  a Governor of the UK’s first land based Studio School and of Kingston Maurward College. His main interest is “increasing sustainable living worldwide.”

   

CAROLINE MILLAR (Angus)

OFC Term: 2016-18 

Caroline and relatives live on the family farm at Balkello, Auchterhouse, near Dundee. The farm is a 650 acre mixed arable farm producing beef, lamb, wheat, oil seed rape and malting barley. They also farm tourists, using the natural beauty of the farmland, views of the local area, privacy, fresh air, and locally farmed food and drink to provide a unique experience to 5 star couples staying at three luxury Hideaways. Developed into a farm diversification in 2005, the business uses 0.6 of an acre and produces comparable profit levels to the farm. The Hideaway Experience was in the national finals of the Scottish Tourism Thistle Awards for best self-service accommodation in Scotland in 2013 and aim to grow the business further. Caroline is also passionate about developing farm tourism and leisure as a means of driving additional income for farmers, engaging with the public, and growing the rural economy. A recent Nuffield Scholar, Caroline aims to share her Nuffield experience to develop agritourism as a key sector of tourism within Scotland.

   

CHARLOTTE SMITH (London)

OFC Term: 2015-17

Charlotte Smith is a writer and broadcaster. She currently presents Farming Today and other rural programmes for BBC Radio 4, and for more than a decade was a presenter on BBC1's Countryfile. Charlotte grew up in rural Leicestershire and started her career as a teenaged volunteer at the local radio station. She has worked across the BBC in both news and sport, helping to launch BBC Radio 5Live, covering an Olympic games, and even bog snorkelling. She fell into rural programmes accidentally after a conversation in a lift and has reported on both the highs and lows of agriculture and the countryside over the past two decades.

   
 

Milly Wastie – Associate Director (Northamptonshire)

Milly is the East Midlands regional manager for the Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution, overseeing the fundraising, marketing and communications for the charity across 6 counties. Milly was Chairman for the National Federation of Young Farmers Clubs between 2012-2013, representing the views of 24,000 young people across England and Wales. During her term she founded a national road safety campaign ‘Drive it Home’ which caught the attention of the national media, celebrities, politicians, road safety stakeholders, YFC members and the farming community. Milly has been awarded the Pride in Northamptonshire award as a young achiever and was a 2013 Farmers Weekly Farming champion finalist. Milly supports her partner Andrew on the family farm in rural Northamptonshire which comprises of beef, sheep and arable land. Having been awarded a grant from the Henry Plumb Foundation, Milly has been working on a project to add value to rare breed pig meat and also enjoys communicating about the field to fork process.
Having attended 5 Oxford Farming conferences as a scholar and winning the union debate in 2012, Milly was elected with a new position of associate director to help support the development of the scholar programme to ensure future delegates get the most from the conference.

   
 

PHILIP J WILKINSON OBE (Yorkshire)

OFC Term: 2014-16

Philip is Executive Director 2 Sisters Food Group. After studying agriculture at Askham Bryan, Philip chose the dairy industry for his career.  Starting as a management trainee at the Milk Marketing Board of England and Wales, he progressed through a range of senior roles within the industry, culminating in that of commercial director of Arla Foods plc.  In parallel with this career, he studied agribusiness at Harvard Business School. During his career Philip held several industry positions including Chairmanship of the Dairy Council and National Dairy Farm Assured Ltd.  He was awarded an OBE for services to the dairy industry in 2003. Upon leaving the dairy sector, Philip became Managing Director of Grampian Country Food Group’s integrated chicken business and more recently joined 2 Sisters Food Group, a privately-owned chicken business supplying a range of products across all industry sectors.  He is a Director of the Red Tractor Poultry Sector Board and the British Poultry Council. Philip is a non-executive Director of Paramount 21 a privately-owned sea food company, a member of the Worshipful Company of Poulters and a Freeman of the City of London.  He is as a consultant to Alltech, one of the world’s largest animal health and nutrition companies.

 

Honorary Patron: HRH The Princess Royal

Secretary: Ann Newbold (Cumbria)

Media relations & marketing: Jane Craigie (Aberdeenshire)
Jane is a marketing and media relations consultant working with a range of clients within the agri-food sector, including BASF plc, Agrovista, HGCA and RAGT Seeds. She is Chairman of the British Guild of Agricultural Journalists (2013-15). Jane is responsible for OFC marketing, media relations and the OFC website.

Accountants: The Hutchinson Partnership, The Bull Pen, Amberley Court, Sutton St. Nicholas, Hereford HR1 3BX

Bankers: Handelsbanken, First Floor East, Bridge Mills, Stramongate, Kendal, Cumbria, LA9 4UB

Solicitors: Mills & Reeve, 1 James Court Whitefriars Norwich Norfolk

The OFC believes creating an inclusive and diverse culture supports the attraction of talented people, improves effectiveness and enhances the success of OFC. While criteria such as gender or ethnicity are important, we also value diversity of experience, skills, knowledge and expertise, as can be seen by the existing members of our council listed on our website. Our Board brings together people with different experience and backgrounds, and sometimes divergent opinions, but with shared goals.