History and Rationale
Every January for the past 60 years the agricultural Establishment – industry, government, and the NFU – have presented their views on the state of Britain’s farming and their plans for the future at the Oxford Farming Conference (OFC); and they give the impression (as the Establishment feels bound to do) that everything is well in hand and that all is for the best. Above all the OFC stresses the need for farmers to “compete” on the global market.
But to working farmers, and to people at large, Britain’s agriculture seems to leave much to be desired. So in January 2010 a small group of us launched an alternative conference – the Oxford Real Farming Conference (ORFC) – to discuss the things that really matter: good food; a secure and beautiful countryside; plenty of satisfying jobs.
The focus for the first year was on farming in transition: in particular, the vital importance of maintaining crop diversity and the many benefits of grass-fed livestock. In 2011 we started with the science and philosophy -- the worldview underpinning “Real farming” and some of the policies obstructing its practice; this was followed by a look at specific farming practices and other more practical issues. In 2012 we attempted at least to outline A CROSS-THE-BOARD RE-THINK: a summary can be found [here].
In January 2013, in addition to a day on farming practice, we are throwing the conference open to farmers and other people and organisations who are doing things differently.