FROM UNCERTAINTY TO OPPORTUNITY – THE 2019 FARMING CONFERENCE

The South of England Agricultural Society is delighted to announce that 2019’s Farming Conference will take place on Wednesday 13th November at the South of England Showground in Ardingly, West Sussex.

Chaired by BBC presenter Charlotte Smith, this year’s conference will consider in a post-Brexit world whether the industry has a positive future.

“Whether you voted to leave the EU or to remain, one thing we can all probably agree on is that the last three years has created a great deal of uncertainty, and whatever happens on the 31st October, this uncertainty is likely to remain for a significant period of time,” explains Duncan Rawson, a Nuffield Scholar sponsored by the Society and organiser of this year’s Farming Conference.

Rawson added: “No industry feels this uncertainty more than agriculture and food.  So entwined is our industry with European and global markets that any disruption is likely to cause problems. However, as the old cliché goes, with uncertainty comes opportunity. Once we are through the maelstrom of the immediate future, the question is: does the industry have a positive future?

“Coming less than two weeks after we are due to leave the EU, this year’s conference couldn’t be any more timely to discuss this, and to help us we have a great line up of speakers who between them will present views from across the food supply chain.”

This year guest speakers at the conference include Jane King, CEO of the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board, Richard Anscombe, CEO of Fram Farmers, Julian Marks, MD of Barfoots of Botley, and Kent farmer Owen Piper of M.A. Piper & Son Farms who has recently introduced vineyards to further diversify and ‘future proof’ his family farm business. All speakers will deliver a short presentation setting out their thoughts as to the future, leaving plenty of time for debate and questions.

The popular Technical Forum will also take place before the main Conference. Now in its fourth year, the forum invites active and progressive farmers and students to come and learn about specific subjects.

Chaired by Doug Jackson of NFU Mutual, and Vice-President of Sussex YFC, the Technical Forum brings together a number of experienced speakers and this year’s title is ‘Harnessing the best of technology to drive productivity’. Speakers for the forum include Duncan Forbes, Dairy Research Director of Kingshay dairy consultants and Head of Dairy at the Agri – EPI Centre , and Stuart Hill, who is Head of Technology & Innovation for Hutchinsons crop production specialists. A third speaker will be announced in the coming weeks.

Rawson concluded: “Looking ahead it is quite clear that farmers will receive less support than they have previously. There is also a stark message from last year’s conference, that the UK farmer is lagging behind other countries in Europe and further afield in terms of our productivity. Without doubt, in a post-Brexit world the industry needs to up its game and technology will have a key role to play. The aim of this forum is to consider how technology and different farming practices can improve production efficiencies.”

The Technical Forum, which has been allocated Continuing Professional Development (CPD) points this year, starts at 3.30pm and refreshments will be available from 6pm ahead of the main conference which runs from 7pm – 10pm.

Both the Farming Conference and Technical Forum are FREE to attend, but visitors must register for BOTH. Click here to register.

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