OFC24 Chairman Will Evans explains the theme "The Power of Diversity"
26th May 2023 by Will Evans, OFC Chair 2024
Welcome to “The Power of Diversity”
The Oxford Farming Conference (OFC) has always been, and always will be a force for good in the farming industry and community. It brings together people from all corners of the agricultural, rural and food sectors, encourages a hugely diverse range of thinking, and generates ideas and positive solutions for the future.
When I first attended OFC, nearly 6-years ago as part of the Emerging Leaders Programme (now called Inspire), I wasn’t at all sure what to expect. I was surprised and delighted at how welcoming the conference was and amazed to find such a wide variety of people from so many different backgrounds in attendance. It demonstrated true strength in connecting food and farming through its speakers and audience.
It presented views from both domestic and international countries, and geographically, I found myself connecting with delegates from all across the UK. It did not shy away from the difficult discussions and debates, challenged all of us, and offered a unique platform where all opinions could were shared, so individuals could make their own informed decisions. On top of all this, I was fortunate enough to make some lifelong friends.
OFC is steeped in a long and proud history going all the way back to 1936, and has a strong reputation as one of the UK’s leading agricultural events. All of the elements I experienced are why it continues to be so widely renowned worldwide, and why I am extremely proud to be one of the Voluntary Directors, and this year, your 2024 OFC Chair.
Whilst it has always embraced change, responding to industry and consumer demands, it is in the last decade that I really feel the conference has embraced “diversity and inclusion”, and why, when sitting on the tractor one day, I found myself drawn to “The Power of Diversity”.
I am proud to be a tenth-generation farmer, husband and father to four daughters. I truly believe we have so much to celebrate and share around the theme of diversity – our huge range of entrepreneurial farming businesses which have done so much to shape our historic landscape, our many native livestock breeds, our world-leading agricultural scientists, our precious environment that all of us are so focussed on improving, and some of the safest and highest quality food produced anywhere in the world, to name just a few. But most of all, it’s the incredible people in farming that make it such a special industry to be a part of, and this is what we want to celebrate at OFC24.
Yes, the industry is facing significant challenges at the current time, which OFC will continue to face head on – furthering conversations about labour, supply chains, alternative income streams, innovation, attracting new people to our industry, and many more issues. OFC does this really, really well. Sparked by honest conversations with passionate people across all sectors of the industry, those who attend Oxford in 2024 will hear the very best of diversity in all its forms.
Our partners are a vital part of this. We are extremely fortunate to deliver a conference surrounded by some of the finest architecture in the world, but this comes at a cost. OFC is a charity, and whilst the conference does not set out to make a profit, we do look to break even each year, which is not always possible. Their support not only allows us to continue to ensure OFC remains unique in terms of the location, but also allows us to offer a rich programme that benefits individuals, businesses, and our entire community for years to come. If you have supported the conference before, then a heartfelt thank you and I look forward to welcoming you back to Oxford, and if you are considering supporting us in 2024, our Partnership Manager Clare Greener, is always at the end of a phone or email to answer your questions.
Diversity means everyone and every topic is included - OFC24 will showcase the true “Power of Diversity”.
See you at Oxford.
Will Evans OFC24