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Oxford Farming Conference: Vice-Chancellor's report

Posted 16 January 2015

Dr Llewellyn with students past and present

By Vice-Chancellor, Dr David Llewellyn

"If there was one message that came through loudly at this year’s Oxford Farming Conference, it was that the younger members of the audience did a great job at representing the industry and encouraging the speakers, and conference delegates, to think about the next generation of entrants to the agri-food sector. 

With challenging questions to politicians, provocative contributions to the traditional Oxford Union Debate, and thoughtful dinner discussions with industry representatives, I was told, time and time again, that our students and recent graduates were confident, capable and fine ambassadors for the university.

And it was clear that our student representatives not only had a lot to contribute, but also a lot to gain from attending the conference. 

The political session presented an opportunity for a wider view of agricultural policy this year, with representatives of UKIP and the Scottish National Party, as well as the Coalition Government and the Labour Party.

Lord Krebs set straight the debate about climate change and the impact that it is expected to have on agricultural production; we were presented with a number of views about the food supply chain and changing consumer behaviour; we heard about the need for Europe to do more about integrated pest management, as well as the developing role of smart farming; and, in a lively debate, George Monbiot, of The Guardian, challenged the sector to think again about intensifying agricultural production.  

In addition, of course, our students heard from senior figures from the agri-food sector as they questioned the issues raised by the speakers, and they were able to speak with some of them outside the formal sessions. 

The Oxford Farming Conference provides a unique opportunity for this type of engagement and we are pleased that our students made the most of this tremendous opportunity."

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