Zooming into the future with the first OFC Bitesize webinar


Exploring farm business structures, agricultural subsidies and the upcoming Agriculture Bill will be the focus of the first Oxford Farming Conference (OFC) Bitesize webinar on Thursday 4 June at 12noon.

The webinar, chaired by OFC Director and Head of Rural Research at Savills UK Emily Norton, will examine the theme ‘The Business Organisation of Farming’ which was first investigated at the 1939 Oxford Farming Conference.

George Dunn, CEO of the Tenant Farmers Association; Angus Selby, Institutional Agricultural Investor and Nuffield Scholar; Sarah-Jane Laing, Scottish Lands and Estates CEO; and, Christine Tacon, Groceries Code Adjudicator will join Emily Norton on the webinar as panellists.

Linking with Scottish Lands & Estates’ #Route2050 report, CEO Sarah-Jane Laing said that there are policy changes needed for rural businesses to be resilient, efficient, and thriving with a positive impact on the environment, the Scottish economy and on rural communities.

“Our #Route2050 report isn’t a rigid plan of how things should be done. Instead it is intended to spark debate and conversation, and to focus our thinking on how we can create the right conditions for rural Scotland. It is only by farmers, land managers, the government, environmental organisations and wider society working together, that we can create a plan for the future of land management that is realistic, workable and helps Scotland lead the way to being net-zero carbon neutral,” comments Sarah-Jane Laing.

Past Oxford Farming Conference Chair and former CEO of the Co-op’s farming business, Christine Tacon, is the UK’s first Groceries Code Adjudicator and oversees the implementation of the Groceries Supply Code of Practice (the Code). With a background in change management, Tacon will provide an insight into the transition of farm viability shifting from Government to farm businesses, and how the proposals in the Agriculture Bill compare to the Code.

“When you take away subsidies, businesses become more independent in terms of what choices they make. The biggest challenge for some will be farm viability and it comes down to business models, budgets, and understanding the unique attributes of your resources. I’m a Director of The AF Group, a nationwide agricultural buying group, and I don’t know how anyone can afford not to be part of a purchasing group. It’s not so much that the purchasing group should get you the best prices because of its scale and expertise, but they are a back office on behalf of thousands of farmers, and they can do things very efficiently, allowing the farmer to focus on what they do best,” she said.

The 2021 OFC, hosted as a digital one-day conference on 7 January 2021, will celebrate its 75th anniversary since the first conference was held in 1936.

“These bitesize events will further enable the charitable mission of the conference – which is to inform, challenge and inspire,” Tacon said.

The Business Organisation of Farming webinar will be held on Thursday 4 June at 12noon and those wishing to register can do so here.