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Oxford Real Farming Conference - Sustain sessions and involvement

Sustain is at the Oxford Real Farming Conference this year (and the Oxford Farming Conference) running and chairing key sessions as listed below. Many Sustain members are involved and the full programme of events can be viewed here.

Day 1, 8th January – 10.30 to 11.30, Council Chamber

Arms for Farms! How retailers can increase the demand for sustainably grown fruit and veg

  • Natasha Soares, Better Food Traders
  • Rebecca Laughton, Landworkers’ Alliance
  • Ben Reynolds, Sustainable Food Cities / Sustain

Chair: Julie Brown, Growing Communities

The session will introduce the Better Food Traders Network - a new initiative launched by Growing Communities, aiming to promote the Alternative Routes to Market (ARMs) model that needs to be developed in tandem with agroecological production in order to support growers with fair prices sufficient to create viable livelihoods. We’ll look at what the BFT network has to offer ethical retailers, how Sustainable Food Cities can support this work, and outline work by the Landworkers’ Alliance on the production and supply side.

Day 1, 8th January – 14.30 to 15.30 in the Main Hall

A Food Strategy for the UK: Local food systems and access to healthy, affordable food for all

  • Henry Dimbleby, National Food Strategy (working with DEFRA)
  • Dee Woods, Granville Community Kitchen
  • Victoria Williams, Food Matters
  • Jyoti Fernandes, Landworkers’ Alliance

Chair: Vicki Hird, Sustain

The UK has unacceptable levels of food insecurity and dietary related ill health. Despite being the 6th largest economy in the world, over 8.4 million people living in UK households report having insufficient food and 13% of healthcare costs are from diet-related ill health. Farmers and food system activists argue that local food systems play a significant role in improving access to healthy, affordable food for everyone, regardless of their income, status or background. However policy makers often see agriculture, food and health as distinct areas. In this session we explore how a food strategy for the UK could provide pathways towards improved local food systems and to access the healthy, affordable food for all.

Day 1, 8th January – 4pm to 5pm in St Aldate’s Church

Answering to the Next Generation: A young people’s assembly on the National Food Strategy for England

Henry Dimbleby and other experts will answer questions from young people, aged 15 to 25

Chair: Chloe Donovan

We all believe there is an urgent need to transform current food and farming systems; to ensure future generations have access to good food and enjoy good health throughout their lives; but what do young people think? What changes do they want to see and what questions would they put to the people shaping their future? This is our chance to find out. Join Henry Dimbleby – leader of the National Food Strategy for England – and a panel of experts from across the food and farming system as they answer questions from a panel of young people.

One of the panel of experts will be Imogen Richmond-Bishop, coordinator of Sustain’s Right to Food programme.

Day 1, 8th January – 4pm to 5pm in the Council Chamber

What will post-Brexit Trade Deals mean for our Farmers, Environment, Welfare and Food Standards?

  • Josie Cohen, Pesticide Action Network UK
  • Jean Blaycock, Global Justice Now
  • Nick Palmer, Compassion in World Farming (CIWF)
  • Nick von Westenholz, National Farmers‘ Union (NFU)

Chair: Kath Dalmeny, Sustain

When/if the UK is an ‘independent’ trading nation after Brexit, will UK farmers have to compete with lower-quality imports using banned pesticides, hormones, rainforest-depleting soya feed, GM, antibiotics and poor animal welfare? A new trade bill was announced in the Queen’s Speech but there is as yet no sign of a UK trade mandate, nor exactly how our elected representatives in parliament would have a say over our food, farming and fishing standards in future deals. Trade talks could be accelerated and signed within months. This session with trade and issue experts and campaigners will help us prepare.

*** If you are also attending the concurrent Oxford Farming Conference down the road, Vicki Hird will be at the evening debate at 6:30 in The Oxford Union. With Baroness Boycott, she will be on the opposition side of the debate proposal that "This House believes cheap food is worth the price." ***


Day 2, 9th January – 10.30 to 11.30 in the Court Room

The Ecology of a Sustainable Food Economy

 [No direct involvement of Sustain. Tom Andrews (Sustainable Food Cities) is chairing this]

  • Chrissie Storry, Bristol Food Network
  • Rich Osborn, Fresh Range
  • Dominic Acland, Wessex Community Assets

Chair: Tom Andrews, Sustainable Food Cities

From city-wide campaigns to promote local and sustainable food to dynamic procurement systems and local supply chain collaborations, the emergence of new demand and supply chain innovations could herald a step-change towards a viable alternative food system. This participatory session will use the inspiring stories of three pioneering initiatives in Bristol and the Southwest to explore what a local food economy based on an ecosystems approach might look like, and what is needed if such ‘ecological’ food systems are to flourish across the UK.

Day 2, 9th January – 14.30 to 15.30 in the Council Chamber

Environmental Land Management Schemes: State of play

  • David Kennedy, DEFRA (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
  • Ellie Brodie, The Wildlife Trusts
  • Patrick Barker, Nature Friendly Farming Network (NFFN)
  • Jyoti Fernandes, Landworkers’ Alliance
  • Adrian Steele, Soil Association

Chair: Vicki Hird, Sustain

The new Environmental Land Management Scheme (ELMS) which will replace the EU CAP (Common Agricultural Policy) in England has been in development since mid-2018. This session with DEFRA, farmers and experts will help participants to get up-to-speed and to feed back on the latest details like expected outcomes, payments, current tests and trials; and explore how ELMS links to other key developing areas of policy, like regulation. Participants can share suggestions and concerns in a Q&A and via cards which we will collate to provide us and DEFRA with valuable insight following ORFC. This is a joint session with Wildlife and Countryside Link. 

For information, in the hour before and also in the Council Chamber, there is a lunchtime session on ELMS and Common Land being run by Foundation for Common Land.

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Published 3 Jan 2020

Better Food Britain: We want everyone to be able to enjoy food that is good for our health, produced in a way that supports good livelihoods, reduced waste and greenhouse gas emissions, high animal welfare and restoration of nature. Find out how.

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