Oxford Farming Conference announces names of 4 new directors

The Oxford Farming Conference (OFC) has named its four new directors. The new directors will be in place for a three-year term overseeing the 2022 to 2024 conferences.

The roles are wholly honorary, with directors volunteering their time to support the charity to deliver its annual conference, the OFC Bitesize series founded during the pandemic, and the Scholars’ and Emerging Leaders’ programmes.

The new directors are:

  • Will Evans, a farmer, Rock & Roll Farming podcast host, EatFarmNow co-founder and columnist.
  • Dr. Jenna Ross, a scientist and Nuffield Scholar who works for Crop Health and Protection (CHAP).
  • Ben Taylor-Davies a farmer, Nuffield Scholar and regenerative bioagricology advisor.
  • Christopher Price, chief executive of the Rare Breeds Survival Trust (RBST).

Christopher Price, formerly director of policy and advice for the CLA explained that his aim is to support the OFC board to ensure continuity in delivering its core mission, which he sees as shaping the farming industry’s thinking for the year ahead.

In the coming years, farming will shift to an unsubsidised, more market-facing world in which farmers are rewarded for all the public benefits they provide, as much as for the food they produce. The challenges and opportunities this change presents are enormous.

“The Oxford Farming Conference is the ideal forum in which new ideas and new approaches can be proposed and debated, and I am looking forward immensely to playing my part in helping the sector find all the ways in which it can thrive.”

The conference has strong international links, welcoming a wide range of diverse speakers, something that is emulated by Will Evans on his podcast.

“The conference is a force for good in this unique industry of ours, and I’m absolutely thrilled to get the chance to be a part of it so I can contribute to taking it forward in this incredibly exciting time for UK agriculture,” he said.

Ben Taylor-Davies farms in Herefordshire, and practices regenerative agriculture, a topic that was explored during the 2020 conference.

Taylor-Davies said he firmly believes farming is currently in one of its most exciting times in history.

“As we begin to unpick and understand biological processes that secure the resilience of farms for the future, whilst enhancing the environment and biodiversity,” he said.

It is with great enthusiasm that I look forward to implementing pledges made by our industry to produce quality nutritious food, drawing down carbon with a focus on ecological uplift.

The conference has a strong commitment to science, offering a session each year that explores a topic of significant importance to agriculture.

With a PhD in Environmental Science, Dr. Jenna Ross from Aberdeenshire (pictured top), has experience rooted in science, including undertaking research in North America and Africa.

Dr. Ross said: “This year is especially exciting, as the OFC prepares to celebrate its 75th anniversary in 2021, and a reminder of the pivotal role the conference has played throughout the years.

“It is an absolute honour to be selected as a custodian of such an important event, and I look forward to helping to shape the OFC content to bring together an imaginative, innovative and diverse programme, as well as exciting opportunities for engagement and collaboration.”

The new directors will formally join the board following the 2021 conference on January 7, hosted via the OFC’s new interactive online platform.