Diversity, Inclusion and Combatting Polarisation 

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The opening event of the Oxford Farming Conference 2020: Diversity, inclusion and combating polarisation – the key to a flourishing rural economy, will start a conversation about how farming and rural careers can become more inclusive, engage everyone in society, and attract new entrants who don’t necessarily fit the traditional rural stereotypes. 

Recent reports have found significant gender inequality in the farming sector and that barriers are still faced by many in the LGBTQ+ community, as well as issues around ethnicity in the countryside. It is vital to create a dialogue that will make rural careers and communities more accessible to all.

We will hear from people who have experienced exclusion by virtue of gender, ethnicity, age and sexuality, but also those who have come to feel excluded through the way the public discourse has changed. We’ll reflect on what drives experiences of inclusion and polarisation in the countryside and in farming, and – most importantly – what we might do about it.

Chaired by RSA Food, Farming and Countryside Commission Director, Sue Pritchard and Oxford Farming Conference chair, Matt Naylor, panellists include dairy veterinarian, Partheeban Navaratnam who will be talking about the experience of being BAME working in a mostly white industry as well as his work at the British Veterinary Ethnicity and Diversity Society. 

Welsh hill farmer, Bryony Gittins will be discussing issues of gender in farming as well as her work with the She Who Dares Farms Conference. Lydia Slack is an established speaker who has spoken extensively on her experience growing up on a Peak District hill farm and will offer insight into LGBTQ+ issues in rural areas as well as the help Agrespect has provided for members of the community.

Will Evans is the host of the Rock & Roll Farming Podcast and will be discussing the increasingly polarising and combative discourse towards farmers. The final panellist, Charlotte Pritchard, is an arable agronomist who will be offering a perspective of being an ‘outsider’ in farming, coming from an urban, non-farming background and the barriers of getting into the industry.

It’s time for the whole sector to look at how farming and rural careers can engage everyone in society. A vibrant and rural economy will be a diverse and inclusive one. 

The event is free and open to everyone – not just those with an OFC ticket. Come join the discussion: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/diversity-inclusion-and-combating-polarisation-tickets-83350992061