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.