Rival conference kicks off in Oxford

JUST two minutes down the road from agriculture’s traditional yearly curtain raiser at the Oxford Farming Conference, a rival farm conference will also kick off later today (Tuesday).

Organisers of the renegade conference, dubbed the ‘Oxford Fringe’, said the established conference was too focused on ‘maximising financial returns’ and ‘preoccupied with issues of land ownership and global agribusiness’.  

Instead they said their event would offer something different, focusing on a ‘wholly new farming economy’ which would concentrate on feeding a growing population sustainably.

“It’s possible – even straight-forward – to feed everyone who’s ever likely to be born to the very highest standards, but only if we design agriculture expressly for the purpose,” said Colin Tudge, conference organiser and founder of the Campaign For Real Farming.

“Our present system of agriculture is not designed to feed people. Instead it seeks to maximise financial returns, and that is quite different. If we really want to feed everyone well we’ll have to re-think farming from first principles.

“This is what we’ll be discussing at our conference – how to go about it,” he added.

The conference flier goes on to say the global food system is ‘at the mercy of speculators and every bit as precarious as the world banking system’.

“But it doesn’t have to be like this,” reads the flier. “We, the organisers of the Oxford Real Farming Conference, are convinced that the Earth’s natural resources are easily able to provide a good, healthy diet for everyone living on the planet today – and everyone likely to be living on it 50 years from now and indeed forever.

“All it will take is an agriculture based on principles of sound biology rather than economic dogma,” it says.

The Conference, entitled ‘Good food for everyone for ever’, has a wide range of speakers including Tim Waygood, farmer and founder of Agrarian Renaissance; Professor Martin Wolfe, agro-ecologist; Graham Harvey, farming writer; and Patrick Holden, director of the Soil Association.

The conference will run throughout Tuesday afternoon.

Readers' comments (4)

  • There is no rivalry here, just two groups of concerned personages who care about the future of our stomachs. This is unlike economists and politicians who count monetary gains bar human suffering- almost like they are not part of the humanity. Lots of good would emanate from joint ventures that highlight the precaurious food security of the civilised West, as a yardstick to mark what is already happening in the third world.

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  • I was involved in organising the fringe conference, I attended the whole day, and I know a good number of the speakers.
    I can unequivocally endorse what's been written above - there is no rivalry here at all, and for our own sakes, and the sake of humanity, we need to have a single conversation.
    The fringe conference was organised because we felt that another year could not be allowed to start without someone stating just how dire and all-threatening our current situation is, and just how radically we need to transform almost every aspect of food and farming.
    Farmers and farming are about to become very very important, but only because they face a very very difficult task, which they can't achieve without the support of the whole country.
    There are farmers out there who are already doing things in a radically different way. We must now bring them together, make them better, and do all we can to help others do things differently.
    If you are one of those farmers, or if you would like to become one, please get in touch - sam.henderson@agrarianrenaissance.co.uk

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  • We need farmers and will need more of them in the future as well as novel solutions and maybe some old fashioned approaches (e.g. restoration of mixed farming in the arable lowlands). An open mind is needed. For instance the agroforestry movement has a lot to commend it but the farming industry currently views it as whacky preferring instead to be more interested in more whackier and expensive ''solutions" of GM and nano. Research funding is tending to be channelled into the latter while ignoring more ecological approaches such as agroforestry & permaculture-type approaches. As much arable land is pretty well now of any soil fauna / flora and organic matter, some old fashioned methods I suspect will need to be restored. I have been recommended to read the book 'HUMUS' by Sykes Friend (one left now on Amazon!)

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  • Cosmos is a pain to remove. Only good for enignbers. Get Titan Panel and the addons like damage meter, bag spaces etc. For other helpful addons try Gatherer for remembering where certain herb or ore was found last time. Get gbars for a great set of bars that can be moved around the screen. Everyone know the main addons needed like CT_Raid so I wont list more.In stort, Cosmos is ok but there are better UI Mods around. Just see what ppl are downloading the most and see if you want to try them.mcallen, Warlock/Priest/Mage on Kirin Tor

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