Oslo, January 09, 2014
The first farming conference was held back in 1936, the same year Fred Perry won the last British men’s Wimbledon title before Andy Murray ended the drought last summer. This week, they convened again for the 67th Oxford Farming Conference - the theme 'Opportunity Agriculture -, exploring future scenarios for the sector. Yara participated, and was a patron of the event.
Agriculture in 2050 discussed at the OFC 2014: will individual plant care be done by robots?
"The Oxford Farming Conference (OFC) is the UK's premier farming conference, and a natural event for Yara to support," says Rosie Carne, Marketing & Agronomy Manager with Yara in the UK. "This year the committee assembled key policymakers, with the 'farming ministers' from the UK Mr. Owen Patterson and Mr. Simon Coveney from Ireland together with the EU
Commissioner for Agriculture, Dacian Ciolos." Those attending the conference, get to experience a couple of exciting days as Oxford scholars as they are hosted in the prestigious colleges and the event itself was takes place in the Examination Hall.
The core questions of the conference examined how farms should be funded and operated in the future, and featured research that investigated how to establish a truly competitive UK agriculture sector in the long term.
UK farming must attract investors to grasp future opportunities
A mindset that is relatively closed to new business structures, limited collaboration and a lack of investment into farm infrastructure, are hampering UK farming's potential, according to research commissioned by the Oxford Farming Conference. Delegates heard these challenging
findings at the organization's 2014 conference.
The report states that there are many strengths to farm structure in the UK, but says that the industry must be more open to changes in land management and not be wedded to owning land to farm it. It also challenges farm business operators to think more widely about sources of capital and to explore agreements like share farming or partnering external investors.
A need for more flexibility
Lively topics at year's conference ranged from the OFC report predicting that there will be increased decoupling between land ownership and farm operation in the UK by 2024, to a presentation about the possibility of individual plant care being handled by robots in 2050. However, The OFC report's key argument was that greater flexibility will be needed to grasp
future opportunities and attract investors.
For Yara, the conference is more than a high-profile event crunching key issues, it is also a business platform. "The 500 delegates are a mix of farmers, professionals - such as lawyers, accountants and land agents, and the supply industry - the networking opportunities
are numerous," Rosie says.
"We participate in the full program, and part of our obligation as patron is to support the event by inviting farmers via our sales force," Rosie explains.
The Yara UK Marketing & Agronomy Manager regularly visits the event, this year being no exception. "The conference provides a chance to build good customer relations and has proven successful. Spending two and a half days with farmer customers, and distributor customers in previous years, has resulted in many examples of good and profitable relationships being forged in this way," Rosie concludes.