It has been a fast and furious start to 2024 but one that has set me up for the year ahead and sees me approaching 2024 with optimism and purpose.

It started like so many others in the agricultural industry by heading to Oxford for the annual Oxford Farming Conference (OFC). I was incredibly honoured to be part of the OFC Inspire programme facilitated by The Institute of Agriculture and Horticulture. The programme is designed to enable ambitious candidates from across the rural and agri-food sector to attend the OFC for the first time and have the opportunity to develop their network, and leadership skills and receive support from industry bodies and professionals.

The conference theme this year was the Power of Diversity and it was great to hear from a broad spectrum of the sector but what was evident is there is still lots of opportunity to open up the world of food, farming and rural life to a wider demographic and introduce new, different and innovative thinking to the sector.

The speaker that encapsulated this best was Dr Awal Fuesini , AHDB Senior Halal Sector Manager, outlining the opportunities for growth within the halal market in the UK. Worth nearly £2 billion the halal market is becoming very hard to ignore with wider education and awareness of the slaughter processes for halal meat and consumer behaviors in the Muslim community being the key.

It was also fantastic to see and hear from so many of the Scottish agricultural community across the two days sharing their stories and how they have turned challenges into success from Robert Chapman of Farmlay and his pragmatic approach to the markets, to Jim Shanks becoming the Scottish tomato industry overnight and Emma Niven re-counting how she along with her partner have nurtured Loch Leven’s Larder into an ever-expanding successful business from humble beginnings.

Head of Show, David Tennant, reflects on his visit to the Oxford Farming Conference

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