Fermanagh students attend this week's Oxford Farming Conference

Published: 3 Jan 2013 13:000 comments

Two Fermanagh agricultural students are in England this week attending the prestigious Oxford Farming Conference.

Brandon Aiken and Connor Donaldson

Brandon Aiken and Connor Donaldson

The two-day event based at the University of Oxford Colleges of Christ Church, Oriel, Worcester or St. Edmund Hall and at the Examination Schools, welcomes up to 50 young scholars sponsored by charities and organisations.

Fermanagh will be represented this year by two first year students at Harper Adams University, Brandon Aiken from Kesh and Connor Donaldson from near Enniskillen, selected by the university and assisted by the Vaughan Trust. Both are former students at Portora Royal School.

The Oxford Farming Conference opened yesterday (Wednesday) with a reception and pre conference dinner in Oxford Townhall whee the speaker was Lord Henry Plumb.

This morning (Thursday), the conference will be opened by the Chairman, Mike Gooding with the main opening address given by the former Northern Ireland Secretary of State, Mr. Owen Paterson, who is now Secretary of State for DEFRA.

He is followed by Mairead McGuinness, an MEP from Co. Louth, who is a member of the European Parliament's influential Agricultural Committee. with further speakers today including John Luxton, Chairman of Dairy New Zealand.

Following the political session, there will be a a session on Farming in Society with an introduction video by Prince Charles; the presentation of the 2013 Oxford Farming Conference Research Report, "What do Uk farmers deliver to society?"

This will be followed by, "What does this mean to the consumer?" by Tom Heap, a BBC presenter; "What does this mean to the farmer?" by Ian Pigott, LEAF demonstration farmer and "What does this mean to society?" by Matthew Taylor of the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce.

The debate will be based on the subject; "This house believes economies of scale in agriculture arer overstated - size is not important."

Tomorrow (Friday), the conference continues with a session on Technology and Innovation with presentations on cereals developing genetics in livestock, questioning if precision farming will change the face of UK agriculture and looking at where science, technology and understanding might take the industry.

The final session looks at inspiration and vision, supply chains, managing agricultural talent and finding a new farming paradigm.

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