The Oxford Farming Conference

George Dunn

George Dunn

CEO, Tenant Farmers Association

Speaker: The Organisation of Farming(4 June 2020)

George Dunn studied Agricultural Economics at Nottingham and Reading Universities before working as an Economist at the Headquarters of the Ministry of Agriculture Fisheries and Food (MAFF) in Whitehall, London between 1989 and 1992.   He then spent 4 years as Rural Economics Adviser to the Country Landowners Association (CLA) before joining the Tenant Farmers Association (TFA) as its Chief Executive in January 1997.

He was a member of the National Trust’s Properties Committee from 2001 to 2004 and its Rural Enterprise Panel between 2004 and 2015, and continues as a National Trust Specialist Volunteer on land-use and Governance issues.  

George was a trustee of The Farming Community Network from 2008 to 2015 serving as Chairman of the charity for five years between 2011 and 2015.

He has represented the TFA on the Tenancy Reform Industry Group since its formation in November 2002, and is a member of the Welsh Government Strategic Framework Partnership Group for agriculture in Wales. 

He was made an Associate of the Royal Agricultural Societies in June 2006 and a Fellow in May 2011. 

Sarah-Jane Laing

Sarah-Jane Laing

CEO, Scottish Land & Estates

Speaker: The Organisation of Farming (4 June 2020)

Sarah-Jane was appointed as Chief Executive of Scottish Land & Estates (SLE) in December 2019, the first woman to hold this role in the organisation’s 110-year history.

Leading a team of 25 SLE colleagues based across Scotland, Sarah-Jane’s role includes influencing the UK Government on a wide range of issues that will impact rural Scotland. 

At Holyrood, her focus is on addressing climate change, increasing the supply of quality, affordable rural homes and developing a post-Brexit land-use policy which delivers resilient businesses and thriving rural communities as well as increased environmental resilience and wider societal benefits.

Prior to joining SLE she spent over 10 years in housing and planning with local authorities and housing associations. 

Sarah-Jane represents SLE on a large number of external stakeholder groups, is a member of the Scottish Government's Women in Agriculture Taskforce and the Scottish Climate Change Emergency Response Group and is a recipient of the Farmers Club Windsor Leadership bursary. 

Prof. Tim Lang

Prof. Tim Lang

Professor of Food Policy, City University of London’s Centre for Food Policy

Speaker: Towards Greater Self Sufficiency (2nd July 2020)

Tim Lang has been Professor of Food Policy at City University of London’s Centre for Food Policy since 2002. Hill farming in Lancashire UK in the 1970s formed his interest in the relationship between food, health, environment, culture and political economy.

He is co-author of Sustainable Diets (2017), Food Wars (2015), Unmanageable Consumer (2015), Ecological Public Health (2012) and Food Policy (2009).

He was policy lead on the EAT-Lancet Commission proposing the planetary diet (The Lancet, Jan 16, 2019).

His latest book Feeding Britain (Pelican, March 2020) explores the UK as a case study of rich economy food security. He proposes that this is more fragile than it appears and that a better route to security is to put sustainability, health and social justice as core goals in future policy and planning.

Joanna Lewis

Joanna Lewis

Policy & Strategy Director, Soil Association

Speaker: Towards Greater Self Sufficiency (2nd July 2020)

Jo leads the Soil Association’s policy and strategic communications team in influencing the future of food, farming and land use for climate, nature and health.

She is a Trustee and former Chair of the Food Ethics Council and Trustee of Sustain. Jo led the development of the Soil Association’s Food for Life Served Here scheme, which certifies that over 2 million meals a day in public settings to meet health and sustainability standards.

Previous roles include Convenor of Defra’s Sustainable Consumption Roundtable and Head of Policy at think tank Green Alliance. Jo holds a First Class Honours Degree in Geography from St John’s College, Cambridge.

Mark Roach

Mark Roach

Managing Director, Grosvenor Farms LTD

Speaker: The Case for Expansion (6 August 2020)

Mark Roach is Managing Director at Grosvenor Farms LTD, a mixed dairy and arable enterprise on the outskirts of Chester. With decades of experience in the dairy industry, the first part of his career was spent in extension and dairy consultancy with ADAS, where he specialised in animal nutrition and business management.

Mark has served as an Executive Director at Cogent from 1998 until 2005 and was appointed Managing Director of Cogent from 2017 to 2019 – a role in addition to his responsibilities at Grosvenor Farms. He now holds the role of Chairman.

A trustee of Dairy Futures Charity, a former Governor of Harper Adams and Councillor with the Royal Association of British Dairy Farmers, he also has experience internationally as a partner in a large dairy cow business in the USA.

Angus Selby

Angus Selby

Institutional Agricultural Investor and Nuffield Scholar

Speaker: The Organisation of Farming(4 June 2020)

Angus is an agri-investment manager with an unusual depth and breadth of experience, having worked across a wide range of regions, structures, and roles.

Over the last two decades, he has worked for a series of investment funds specialising in the agriculture sector.  He was most recently a Managing Director and Head of Northern Hemisphere for Macquarie Agricultural Funds. 

Before that he spent 5 years at CPPIB where he designed, built and led a multi-billion dollar global portfolio of direct agricultural investments across the farmland, farming, processing, storage and logistics elements of the supply chain.

Prior to CPPIB, Angus worked for Altima and Morgan Stanley where he was responsible for restructuring a series of large-scale agri investments in South America, Eastern Europe and the FSU.

Throughout his career Angus has played an active role in various policy and developmental aspects of the agriculture industry including sustainable land, water and food-related initiatives.  He is a Nuffield farming scholar and also a trustee of the Nuffield Farming Scholarships Trust.

Angus grew up on an irrigated wheat, soya, beef and citrus farm in northern Zimbabwe and his family now farm in Zambia.  He has a Doctorate and MPhil from Oxford where he was a Beit Scholar and also holds a BSc with First Class Honours in Agricultural Business Management From Wye College, University of London.

Rebecca (Beccy) Speight

Rebecca (Beccy) Speight

Chief Executive, RSPB

Speaker: Towards Greater Self Sufficiency (2nd July 2020)

Rebecca (Beccy) Speight became the RSPB’s Chief Executive in August 2019, having previously held the same position at the Woodland Trust. Prior to the Woodland Trust Beccy worked for the National Trust for 14 years, initially as general manager of the Stourhead Estate, then as director for its East Midlands and Midlands regions from 2005.

Beccy was responsible for leading and championing the National Trust’s work on its sustainable food agenda and she chaired the Food for Life Catering Mark Standards Committee for the Soil Association.

Charlie Steer

Charlie Steer

Arable Manager, Grosvenor Farms LTD

Speaker: The Case for Expansion (6 August 2020)

Charlie Steer is arable manager for Grosvenor Farms LTD, a mixed dairy and arable enterprise on the outskirts of Chester. He started with the business as part of a graduate traineeship in 2011, progressing to management in late 2014.  His responsibilities cover management of the combinable and forage cropping on the farm, agronomy, staff, machinery and nutrient management; in short, all the farming operations involved in growing combinable crops and at each ‘end’ of the cows on the 3,500 head dairy enterprise.

Raised on a small organic farm in East Cheshire, his passion for agriculture was sparked from a very young age. The farm was a family affair and their long-standing sentiment for conservation and sustainability, is something he continues to strive for in his work. Upon leaving school, after a year working on farms and travelling in Australia and New Zealand, he studied agriculture at The University of Reading and graduated in 2010.

Christine Tacon

Christine Tacon

Groceries Code Adjudicator

Speaker: The Organisation of Farming (4 June 2020)

Christine Tacon became the UK’s first Groceries Code Adjudicator (GCA) in 2013 and has achieved significant cultural change in the sector, bringing greater fairness for producers supplying the UK’s largest supermarkets.

She has been much praised for her collaborative approach to the role and a government review concluded the GCA was an exemplary model of a modern regulator with an international reputation. She is standing down this year after 7 years in office.

She also chairs MDS, which trains graduates in the food and fresh produce industry and is a director of the AF Group, a national farming purchasing co-operative.  As a founder of Women in Food and Farming she has supported women develop their skills and confidence through networking and meeting inspirational speakers.

George Young

George Young

Agro-ecological Farmer, Fobbing in South Essex

Speaker:Towards Greater Self Sufficiency (2nd July 2020)

George Young is an agro-ecological farmer from Fobbing in South Essex. Over the past few years, seeing the lack of profitability within conventional ‘commodity’ farming, George has diversified into heritage cereals, buckwheat, lentils and hemp; as well as working with more direct supply chains into local London-based bakeries and restaurants.  He is also working on a project to establish a wilded seam through the centre of his farm, along with revitalised hedges and agro-forestry (trees within fields) to ensure that wildlife can safely traverse the entirety of the farm all year round. 

George’s vision is to turn Fobbing Farm into a farming & food hub, enabling a fully integrated ecological farming system (with livestock, market gardening, fruit & nuts on top of arable farming), replete with secondary and tertiary food businesses within the farmyard. The idea is to create a micro-supply-chain, hyper-local food system, supplying the local area with delicious nutritious food. 

To learn more about George, he is very active on social media (primarily Instagram & Twitter), with the handle @FarmingGeorge. And he blogs monthly at FarmingGeorge.blogspot.com