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    Oxford Farming Conference tackles sustainable farming

    Humza Jilani reports on this year's virtual conference.

    The 2022 Oxford Farming Conference, titled Road to Resilience, was held online from 5 January to 7 January. Industry leaders, activists, and politicians convened to discuss new approaches to building sustainable and resilient farming practices amid deepening economic and environmental challenges in the United Kingdom and globally.

    UK Agricultural Ministers, including George Eustice, England’s Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, and his counterparts from Wales and Northern Ireland, laid out their plans for government support for new approaches to farming.

    The programme also included a session on the opportunities in farming and the food economy to contribute to the United Kingdom’s net-zero commitments. Farmers find themselves in the middle of emissions debates, with climate change poised to bite into crop yields and the agricultural sector contributing up 10% of total greenhouse gas emissions from the United Kingdom in 2019.

    The conference also tackled lessons that pandemic-related supply chain squeezes carried for the future of global farming practices. The global agriculture trade keeps agriculture economically viable, according to participants, and new approaches to keep open supply lines and trade routes are vital in times of disruption.

    Specific features of the programme included a lecture entitled ‘Hero or villain? How farming holds the key to net zero,’ a talk from the OFC Honorary President, HRH The Princess Royal, Princess Anne, and a conversation between Dame Ellen MacArthur and OFC Co-Chair Sarah Mukherjee MBE on navigating towards a nature positive food system. 

    The session was conducted entirely online due to fears about the spread of the omicron variant of the coronavirus in the United Kingdom. The conference has been held annually in Oxford since 1936.

    Image: Dan Meyers

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