As she returns to her studies, Jessie Mayall looks back at this year's Oxford Farming Conference and reflects upon some of the lessons she learnt - and how she will be applying them in the future.
"Through Harper Adams, I was able to take part in the 2022 Oxford Farming Conference Scholar’s programme and to attend the conference.
This was a very valuable experience as it allowed me to deepen my understanding of which issues and topics are at the forefront of the agricultural industry currently, and the ways in which these are likely to shape its future direction.
I particularly appreciated having the opportunity to hear directly from agricultural ministers on brand new policy announcements and how they see the future of UK food and agriculture.
It was encouraging that environmental protection and sustainability were very much at the heart of most of the discussions.
One of the highlights for me was hearing Dame Ellen MacArthur speak on the concept of the ‘circular economy’, which allowed me to appreciate the role that food and agriculture might have in a truly circular, sustainable economy.
I also particularly enjoyed the sessions on the more social aspects of agriculture, including one that considered different models of farming from around the world and examined the role of the family within agriculture and the concept of the ‘family farm’.
I also found the discussions relating to mental health in agriculture and the need to increase diversity and encourage new entrants into farming particularly interesting and important.
Much of the content of the conference complimented and improved on some of the learning I have completed as part of my course at Harper Adams, such as the sessions on agricultural policy and sustainable growing methods.
Other topics were more novel, for example the potential role of agriculture in the carbon credit system, which has broadened my knowledge and is something I will take with me into my final year at Harper.
As well as attending the conference, the scholar programme also involved taking part in seminars focused on personal and professional development.
One of these sessions involved media and interview training with professionals involved in agricultural media and reporting, including journalist Anna Hill and Will Evans from the ‘Rock and Roll Farming’ podcast.
This was a great experience and I felt that it increased my confidence in this area, which I believe will benefit me in my future career.
Overall, taking part in the Oxford Farming Conference 2022 scholar’s programme was a very positive and valuable experience, and I am very grateful to Harper Adams and the Oxford Farming Conference Council for this opportunity.
I was glad that despite the conference cancelling the in-person event, I was still able to attend the full programme, albeit through a computer screen rather than in person."