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Sarah Hardman represents SFYFC at Oxford Farming Conference



Sarah Hardman from Nesscliffe YFC reports on the Oxford Farming Conference 3rd-5th January 2017. Sarah, represented SFYFC at the event and was kindly sponsored by the Shropshire NFU and Shropshire County Show

It was an action packed few days. The Conference started with a selection of fringe events, one of the most noticeable was by Jane King of AHDB. She announced their new range of benchmarking programmes available for all farm types. Their aim is to get 50-60% of all farmers benchmarking through AHDB in the next few years, a positive but ambitious target.

Defra Farming ministers then joined the conference, with the main topic of conversation being what happens after CAP regarding farm subsidies. Additionally, to this was the debate of farm migrant workers and the export market after BREXIT. The answers from ministers left the audience wanting more clarification and detail, of which doesn’t seem available at present. However, I see this has great opportunity for us to still have influence on UK Agriculture in the near future.

The scholars were then given the opportunity to personally meet George Eustice and members of the NFU and CLA to bring forward our views as young people in Agriculture. This was a superb opportunity to discuss our opinions on subsides, the British brand and innovation. However it did highlight the varying views amongst us, so it will defiantly be a challenge to keep everyone in the farming community happy!

There were inspirational presentations by some leading farming entrepreneurs, from selling HOP’s to America to selling ready make mash potato to Dubai. Highlighting the fantastic opportunity to sell our British products, not only in the EU but worldwide.

One of the highlights of the Conference was the Oxford Farming Conference Debate, the debate was regarding the future and threats of the family farm. This is something I am very passionate about but there didn’t seem to be much positivity in the room regarding family farms! When the opportunity arose, I decided to voice my views on all the great things a family can bring to a business, and noted some of the national and international companies owned and ran by families. I was delighted to be mentioned as one of the best scholars who had spoken that evening. My YFC public speaking days definitely helped me along, and it was lovely to see so many young farmers speak confidently on such a big stage.

The Oxford Farming Conference was a great opportunity to meet fantastic people and listen to some inspiring presentations, leaving me feeling positive about UK Agriculture in the future.

By Sarah Hardman


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