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The real Oxford farming conference

News Icon 05/01/2015

I will be starting 2015 as I left off last year, with several speaking events. This week promises to be a lively one, with three speaking slots in two days in Oxford.

The first two are at the Oxford Real Farming Conference (ORFC), which I’m delighted to be at once again this year. The ORFC has grown into one of the UK’s “must-do” annual conferences, rivalling the long-established conventional Oxford Farming Conference (OFC) over the road, where my third speaking engagement this week will be.

At the ORFC, I’ll be part of a panel debate with colleagues from the Square Meal group. We’ll be discussing the overwhelming need for a radical rethink of food and farming policy if we are to feed ourselves long into the future.

I’ll then be joined by two very special guests to discuss the march of mega-farms and whether a green and pleasant land holds the key to providing decent food for everyone forever.

Farm animals have been disappearing from our fields as the production of food has become a global industry.  We no longer know for certain what is entering the food chain and what we are eating – as the horsemeat scandal demonstrated two years ago. We are reaching the tipping point where the industrial farming revolution threatens our countryside, health and the quality of our food.

Whilst some see the future in hyper-industrial mega-farming masquerading under the guise of ‘sustainable intensification’, others see keeping animals on farms rather than factories as the real solution to the world’s problems.

I’ll debate the issues with writer on farming and food, Graham Harvey and we’ll be joined by distinguished US campaigner, Elizabeth Kucinich, policy director for Washington DC based Center for Food Safety, who will share insights from America, the birthplace of the mega-farm.

If you’re coming to the ORFC, please do come along for what promises to be a lively and insightful discussion.

On Wednesday I’ll be taking part in the OFC Oxford Union Debate, proposing the motion: “This house believes intensive agriculture is no longer sustainable”.

I’m really looking forward to debating with LEAF Chief Executive, Caroline Drummond, who will be opposing the motion. Writing my book, Farmageddon, which we were preparing to launch this time last year, showed me that globally we’re at a tipping point: Unless we make radical changes to halt the ever increasing intensification of food production we will end up with a countryside almost devoid of birds, bees and butterflies, unhealthy food and poor animal welfare as the norm.

So, with new ideas about a truly sustainable future for our food coming out of one conference, and the status-quo coming from the other, will the real Oxford farming conference please stand up?


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