Call for new Oxford Farming Conference Directors

The Oxford Farming Conference (OFC) is inviting expressions of interest for three new directors to join the nine-strong team from January 2016 for a three-year term to deliver the Conferences from 2017-19.

The Council is voluntary and comprises a group of people who are committed and active within the agricultural industry. The Directors’ role is to work with the rest of the team to deliver the Conference programme, speakers and the extended activities now linked to the OFC, such as the Summer Arable Conference at the Cereals Event. The team is supported by a professional secretariat, marketing consultant and a treasurer.

“The Oxford Farming Conference’s mission is to inform, challenge and inspire,” says Al Brooks, Chairman of the 2016 Conference, who farms in Oxfordshire. “In my view our January Conference is the leading event for networking and debate in British farming, which is galvanized by our related activities such as an active scholars’ programme and an annual research report which often exposes some uncomfortable truths, as well as areas of opportunity for our industry.

“As a farmer myself, I’m really keen to see some bold content in the 2016 Conference, including a focus on entrepreneurialism and leadership, as well as an in-depth look at some inspiring farming businesses from around the globe,” he says. “I’m involved in the Conference because it pushes me to really think about the future of my farming operations and it opens doors that would not have been there if I hadn’t joined the Council.”

The OFC Director positions are wholly honorary, but reasonable expenses are reimbursed and attendance at the Conference is offered free of charge for the three years in office. Our selection process is based on trying to get a balanced team and we often suggest that applicants apply in another year if their particular skills are already represented on the council.

Leaving the Council in 2016 will be Dr Tina Barsby (CEO of NIAB, with a scientific background), Al Brooks (arable and goat dairy farmer), and Philip Wilkinson OBE (food chain consultant working with the Two Sisters Food Group and Alltech).

“By joining the Council you are making a commitment to delivering the Conference and it is important that prospective applicants appreciate the time commitment being made”, Mr Brooks adds.

The OFC takes place early in January every year where it sets the agenda for the year ahead for an entire industry. It has significantly extended its reach to include online streaming of the conference, the annual OFC research, the OFC/RASE Practice with Science Award and its partnership with Haymarket to deliver the Cereals Event Summer Conference. All of these activities extend the OFC brand and help to meet its charitable objectives of education and encouraging the next generation.

The OFC is particularly interested in individuals who are passionate about the future of farming and can demonstrate one or more of the following skill areas:

  • A track record of successful innovation in agriculture or horticulture
  • Experience of developing agricultural policies and strategy
  • Highly effective communication, networking and PR skills
  • Broad and effective networks of contacts across the public, private and academic sectors, with particular interest in building overseas contacts
  • Creative ideas and concepts for the future development of the OFC

Those selected as members will be invited to attend two Council meetings in November and December 2015, prior to formal appointment, and will then be expected to attend six to eight Council meetings per year and the Oxford Farming Conference itself for their three year term.

The current directors are: Dr Tina Barsby, Al Brooks (Chairman), Martin Davies, Dr John Gilliland OBE, Alan Laidlaw, Robert Lasseter, Caroline Millar, Charlotte Smith and Philip Wilkinson OBE. The treasurer is David Turner, the secretary is Ann Newbold and the marketing is undertaken by Jane Craigie.

Anyone interested in applying can download an application form from the OFC website Applications close on 12 June.

The 2016 Conference will be held 5-7 January at the Oxford University Examination Schools.

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