Written by Sarah Hunt
My name is Sarah Hunt and I have worked in the accountancy profession for 15 years. I am Finance Director at the Oak Faming Group, which includes arable, dairy goats, renewables and a holiday park. I am also a member of the Future Farmers of Yorkshire group.
When the Yorkshire Agricultural Society Farming Networks Newsletter landed in my inbox, I noticed that I was quickly approaching the upper end of the age range for their scholarships to the Oxford Farming Conference (OFC), so decided it was now or never. I turned on the laptop, updated my CV and wrote a covering letter. I was surprised and delighted to hear I had been awarded the scholarship and my employer was also very supportive.
The scholarship started with a scholar’s day in November at Martin Brower Distribution centre in Manchester. This was an opportunity to meet fellow scholars and hear about the conference from some of the OFC directors.
At the conference, The World Beyond Brexit was an interesting session and was probably one of my favourites, because it was looking to the future and looking for opportunity. The world will still have a growing population after Brexit and people will still need food, so although how businesses operate may be need to change slightly, I believe there is still a place for good farming businesses.
Sir Lockwood Smith was a highlight of my OFC experience, he was positive and inspirational and having been through the demise of farming subsidies in New Zealand, he is well placed to offer advice to UK farmers.
It was a fabulous opportunity to hear world leaders’ views, especially when there are turbulent political times ahead. There was such a diverse range of speakers and topics that anyone with a business interest in agriculture would benefit from attending.
I really enjoyed my time at the OFC. It was very thought provoking and I think UK farming has a strong future, providing farmers look at their trades as businesses and make good business decisions and not decisions based on emotions.
Three strong messages that I have left the conference with are firstly, you are not going to fix a problem without educating, secondly, analysis of data is the key to developing and strengthening a business and, finally, the future is serving the market place.
The title of the conference was World of Opportunity and the conference definitely had a global feel to it. I left feeling that UK farmers need to embrace the changes coming and remain world leaders in agriculture.
Future Farmers is now launching its scholarship programme for 2020 and, for the first time, is offering places to both the Oxford Farming Conference and the Real Oxford Farming Conference. Both events take place in January 2020. To apply, please send your CV and covering letter to firstname.lastname@example.org
The Future Farmers of Yorkshire was launched in 2010 to bring together like-minded farmers, vets and industry supporters. It is supported by the Yorkshire Agricultural Society. The group has been joined by over 1,000 forward-thinking members, eager to expand their knowledge and excel in their careers. We support them by providing a platform for debate and the sharing of ideas.