Council Members


Here you will find details of the Oxford Farming Conference directors and honorary advisors.

Our council brings together people with different experience and backgrounds, and sometimes divergent opinions, but with shared goals.

Council Members

Caroline Millar - Chairman (Angus)

Caroline Millar

Chairman Caroline Millar is a strong advocate for economic growth and prosperity in the rural economy, providing leadership and board level strategic support to a number of organisations including her local Tayside Regional Advisory Board and the Scottish Tourism Alliance Council.  A rural entrepreneur, Caroline provides support and advice through her consultancy business to a range of businesses including farmers wishing to diversify.  Caroline and her husband Ross also farm tourists in five star Hideaways on their family farm at Auchterhouse in Angus using the panoramic views, space, privacy and high quality local farm produce to attract tourists from around the globe.  The 650 acre mixed farm produces beef, lamb, wheat and malting barley. Caroline is a Scottish Enterprise Rural Leader and Nuffield Scholar and since returning from her international studies, has campaigned extensively to have government and others recognise the economic opportunity for food and farm tourism in the UK.

David Turner - Honorary Treasurer (East Anglia)

David Turner

David is a principal in David Turner & Co - a firm of Chartered Accountants and Business Advisers which specialises in landed estates and agriculture. Prior to the formation of David Turner & Co, David was a director with Pricewaterhouse Coopers LLP. In addition to the compliance services offered by David Turner & Co he has wide-ranging experience in handling one-off assignments – including work for the major banks, government institutions and PLCs. David is a governor at Bishop Burton College in Beverley East Yorkshire, where he is also the chair of the audit committee. He has a small farm in East Anglia which he operates via a manager contractor agreement.

Tom Allen-Stevens - (Oxfordshire)

Tom Allen-Stevens

Tom has a 170ha arable farm near Faringdon and is editor of Crop Production Magazine (CPM). On leaving Royal Agricultural College, he worked as a verifier for Assured Combinable Crops Scheme, before joining Crops as a technical writer. He became arable editor for FWi, then joined Oxford-based PR company, Mistral. More recently he was manager for LEAF's Open Farm Sunday and is a director for Farming in the Park that aims to put on a major agricultural event in London. He has won several farming journalism awards and has a passion for innovation in agriculture. The farm at home comprises combinable arable crops and enhanced environmental features, while the original farm buildings have been converted to office space, providing a thriving business community. 

Anna Hill - (Norfolk)

Anna Hill

Anna started her journalism career in BBC Local Radio just in time for the 1987 hurricane in Sussex, where she filed reports describing the destruction of the countryside from a helicopter over the Downs.  She then moved to Radio Four in 1991 as an announcer reading the shipping forecasts and news bulletins, and continuing to do freelance reporting for Radio Four current affairs programmes. Anna combined her journalism and presentation skills when she joined Farming Today in 1995. Since then, she has covered all the major stories affecting the farming industry from BSE to Bovine TB to Black Grass. Anna has also travelled and reported on farming issues from Kosovo for Countryfile, and South Africa, Bolivia, Brazil and the Falkland Islands for the World Service. She has interviewed Prime Ministers and pundits but always finds the real stories come from the farmers themselves - sometimes after the microphone has been turned off!  Anna lives in Norwich with her husband and two children.  

Alan Laidlaw - (East Lothian)

Alan Laidlaw

Alan Laidlaw is chief executive of the Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland (RHASS) – a registered charity with a remit to promote and protect the interests of rural Scotland.  

Based at the RHASS’s headquarters at the Royal Highland Centre, Ingliston, Alan was appointed to the role in August 2016 after spending 11 years with the Crown Estate Scotland, latterly as Head of Property.   He is a trained chartered surveyor, a director of the Oxford Farming Conference and an Associate of the Royal Agricultural Societies (ARAgS).

In his spare time Alan enjoys playing rugby and exploring Scotland’s countryside.  He lives in East Lothian with his wife and young son.

Robert Lasseter - (Dorset)

Robert Lasseter

Robert Lasseter started his farming business in 1994, outdoor sows with an annual grazing licence, selling weaners off the field. He expanded to sell bacon pigs through the Freedom Food scheme, and diversified into retailing with a business partnership called Genesis Farmers, which was sold in 2012. He started arable farming in 2007, and now produces grain to feed his pigs, creating a more sustainable mixed farm.  
He is a Nuffield Scholar, and member of the IAgMan Leadership Development programme.  He is currently a director of Wessex Grain, a board member of HGCA,  a Governor of the UK’s first land based Studio School and of Kingston Maurward College. His main interest is “increasing sustainable living worldwide.”

Matthew Naylor - (Lincolnshire)

Matthew Naylor

Matthew Naylor is the Managing Director of Naylor Flowers Ltd, a Lincolnshire-based company which supplies 40 million British flowers each year to supermarkets including Waitrose, Sainsburys, Aldi and the Co-operative. The business employs up to 150 people. Matthew is also the founder and co-owner of K.W.Naylor & Son (Holdings) Limited, a property and renewable energy investment company. These companies have both grown from diversifications on a small family farm.  

Matthew’s many early attempts at diversification included a long spell processing potatoes from Israel for the food service sector, a project to grow exotic vegetables for ethnic markets in the UK and the founding of a cut flower trial ground in partnership with a Kenyan flower company.  

He is a former Tesco Young Farmer of the Year and was Young Grower of the Year in 2003. He was a Crown Estate Nuffield Scholar (2006) studying product differentiation in small businesses and is a Fellow of the Royal Agricultural Societies

Matthew has written an opinion column in the Farmers Weekly since 2005 and was nominated as the Business Columnist of the Year in the 2013 PPA Awards.  

He has been a supporter of Farm Africa for many years and has travelled to Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya to support their work as well as organising fundraising events on their behalf.

In the past Matthew served as deputy chairman of the Lincs Fenland Leader+ programme, an EU-funded re-generation programme for South Lincolnshire and he recently retired as a director of the farming and environmental charity LEAF.  

He currently volunteers as a Business and Transition Mentor for the Princes Trust

Julie Robinson - (Cambridgeshire)

Julie Robinson

Following a career in steel and other commercial sectors, Julie switched to law and now heads up the Agriculture team at Roythornes' solicitors. She describes one of her main tasks as "getting farmers onto land to grow stuff". With several years as chief legal advisor at the National Farmers' Union behind her, Julie apreciates the wider policy issues that determine the direction and fortunes of the food and farming sector in the UK and Europe. She was a member of the Future Farming Group, a government/industry body which reported in July 2013 and looked at the key barriers to the future prosperity of the sector in England. When not advising farmers, Julie is Registrar for the Diocese of Lincoln.  

Professor Nigel Scollan - (Northern Ireland)

Prof Nigel Sollan

Professor Nigel Scollan is Director of the Institute for Global Food Security (IGFS) at Queens University, Belfast. 

A graduate in animal science from the University of Edinburgh, Professor Scollan who also has a PhD from Edinburgh, then undertook a two-year postdoctoral at University of Guelph. In 1993, he took up a research scientist position at Institute of Grassland and Environmental Research (IGER).

In 2008, IGER emerged into Aberystwyth University as part of the Institute of Biological Environmental and Rural Sciences (IBERS) to form one of the largest groups of academics and support staff in the UK focusing on plant, animal, environment and land based sciences. Professor Scollan held senior management positions in both Institutes, including Waitrose Professor of Sustainable Agriculture and Director of Enterprise at IBERS and was most recently Director of Enterprise at IBERS Aberystwyth University.

Will Surman - (Brussels)

Will Surman

Will is a Director of Communications at CropLife International, a trade body that champions the role of plant science innovations to drive sustainable agriculture around the world. Having grown up on the family farm, agriculture has been at the heart of Will's work, whether plying his trade as a political advisor to the European Parliament, as a freelance journalist in Argentina, senior reporter for Farmers Guardian or as a communicator and parliamentary advisor for the NFU in Brussels. He is an experienced communications professional and political lobbyist with a strong knowledge of UK, EU and international agriculture and a deep desire to tackle issues of food security, climate change and biodiversity. In his spare time, Will is a trustee for the Farmers Overseas Action Group, where much of his work is focused on helping farmers in Uganda to reduce post-harvest losses. In the remaining hours of the day, Will is studying for a part-time Masters in Sustainable Development at the School of African and Oriental Studies (SAOS).