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Challenges around land use, diet and data will be debated at next month’s Norfolk Farming Conference – by an impressive line-up of expert speakers.... Top speakers announced for Norfolk Farming Conference

Challenges around land use, diet and data will be debated at next month’s Norfolk Farming Conference – by an impressive line-up of expert speakers.

Farm minister Mark Spencer will make the opening address at the all-day conference, which takes place on Tuesday, 6 February, at the Royal Norfolk Showground on the outskirts of Norwich.

Chaired by Agri-TechE director Belinda Clarke, the event provides a forum to discuss the key issues, challenges and opportunities faced by the industry – at both a regional level and beyond.

Farmer case studies will include a presentation by Andy Cato, founder of the conservation agriculture brand Wildfarmed, who embraces a regenerative approach to improve biodiversity and soil condition.

Working together

Poul Hovesen and Dominic Swan, of Catalyst Farming, a partnership of five Norfolk farms, will talk about the impact of collaborative data sharing, the benefits it brings and the challenges it helps overcome.

The conference is being organised by the Royal Norfolk Agricultural Association (RNAA). Sponsors and co-organisers include the AF Group, Birketts, Brown & Co, Lovewell Blake, Norfolk County Council, Origin Fertiliser and Oxbury Bank.

RNAA managing director Mark Nicholas said: “The Norfolk Farming Conference is regarded as being at the vanguard of policy debate and we look forward to a thought provoking and stimulating conference.”

Ag-inflation, extreme weather events and the loss of access to many key active ingredients mean farmers face an increasing risk when growing crops – so much so that some producers are considering the future direction of their businesses.

Sustainable farming

Brown & Co managing partner Charles Whitaker said: “There is a need for change across the industry and for markets to take full account of the full cost of sustainable farm production.

“For too long our end product markets expect global price competitiveness, but with far weaker regulatory, environmental and production standards – and our current government position on import standards reflects that.”

The closing speech will be made by organic dairy farmer Patrick Holden, founder of the UK Sustainable Food Trust. Mr Holden will outline his thoughts on a positive vision for the future of farming.

Tickets are £75 for adults and £45 for students, including lunch and refreshments. For full details, visit rnaa.org.uk.