New team at the top

Barbara

Pictured: Barbara Bray, Food Safety Consultant and Nutritionist

We are delighted to announce that three new directors and a new chairman have been appointed for the Oxford Farming Conference 2020. Former BBC Environment Correspondent and Chief Executive of the Crop Protection Association, Sarah Mukherjee; journalist Tom Levitt, and food safety and nutrition consultant Barbara Bray have been selected to join the OFC Council from 2020-22. Matthew Naylor, Managing Director of Naylor Flowers, has been elected chairman for the conference in 2020 following two years on the Council.

Current OFC Chairman, Oxfordshire farmer Tom Allen-Stevens, said:

“As the chairman of the 2019 Oxford Farming Conference, I’m particularly pleased with the calibre of directors that will take it forward for 2020 and beyond – it’s never been in better hands. The make-up of the Council, with Matt Naylor as its chairman, will take OFC in a bold, new direction.”

The Oxford Farming Conference, which was first held in 1936, takes place over three days every January in the historic surroundings of Oxford University. It combines a programme of speakers, workshops and pan-industry networking designed to challenge and inspire the delegates of all ages from across British agriculture. The Council is selected to bring a balance of experience, perspectives and skills and its role is to build a programme that ensures the conference remains one of the industry’s leading events.

Mr Naylor of the Lincolnshire-based Naylor Flowers Ltd, supplier of 70 million British flowers each year to supermarkets, and columnist for Farmers Weekly, has been a Director since 2017. He said:

“I love being part of the OFC, it brings you into contact with a huge number of great people and interesting ideas. I am especially grateful for the privilege of chairing the 2020 conference. My job is to pull together the extraordinary range of perspectives and talents that we have on the council and in the wider industry to present an imaginative and exciting programme which opens delegates minds to new possibilities. We want to inspire everyone in the food and farming sector to implement new ideas which will benefit not just themselves but also their environment, their community and society as a whole.”

Barbara Bray (pictured) is a Registered Nutritionist, food safety consultant and guest lecturer at Manchester Metropolitan University. As a committee member for both the Institute of Food Science & Technology and The Nutrition Society she brings with her a network of food industry and nutrition professionals with an interest in agriculture. Her Nuffield Farming Scholarship focuses on vegetable production for improved human nutrition outcomes.

Tom Levitt is a former journalist for both The Guardian and Farmers Guardian and currently a associate researcher for the RSA’s Food, Farming and Countryside Commission. With an MSc in Food Policy from City University, he was awarded a Nuffield Farming Scholarship for 2017 to research the future of dairy. He is also on the advisory board for Foodsource, an initiative run by the Food Climate Research Network (FCRN) at Oxford University’s Environmental Change Institute.

Sarah Mukherjee is Chief Executive of the Crop Protection Association. She read law at university and worked in PR and consultancy at the House of Commons before becoming a BBC Environment correspondent on TV and radio. More recently she was Director of Environment at Water UK. She brings with her valuable experience working with people in different parts of the industry including farmers, regulators and politicians, as well as the ability to communicate well. Commenting on her appointment she said:

"I wish to play an active role in the curation of agriculture’s festival of ideas. It’s one of the most challenging and exciting times in the industry since the Second World War, and the sector needs to be looking ahead of the curve at what possibly, and probably, lies ahead." 

The OFC Council consists of a group of 10 people who are committed to, and active within, the agricultural industry.  Each Director’s role is to work with the rest of the team to deliver the conference programme, speakers and the extended activities including an extensive international scholars’ programme, debates within other farming events including the Royal Highland Show and the Cereals event and an Emerging Leaders’ Programme.  The team is supported by a professional secretariat, Archer Yates and a marketing consultancy, Jane Craigie Marketing.

The other directors on the Council are: Ian Damms, Anna Hill, Matt Naylor, Andrew Pitts, Julie Robinson, Professor Nigel Scollan, Tom Allen-Stevens (chair), Will Surman and Sally Williams.  The treasurer is David Turner. Tom Allen-Stevens, Julie Robinson and Will Surman will stand down after the 2019 conference, at which point the new directors will assume their official role.

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