Oxford Farming Conference appoints three new Directors

  • The Oxford Farming Conference (OFC), the UK’s leading agricultural, business and food event, has made three new appointments to its voluntary board of directors

CEO of The Farming Community Network, Jude McCann, Head of News at Farmers Guardian, Abi Kay, and Project Manager (Rural) at Scottish Enterprise, Julia Latto, will join the committee after the next conference in January 2023.

The public recruitment process looked to attract individuals who would support the charity’s objectives to inform, challenge and inspire delegates, by developing a conference agenda that would be a force for positive change throughout the industry.

In addition, applicants were asked to demonstrate leadership qualities that would support OFC’s outreach initiatives, including its bursary and scholarship programs, supporting the next generation of farmers to attend the conference, including individuals facing social or economic barriers, and those with leadership potential.

Jude McCann grew up on a family farm in mid-Ulster, Norther Ireland, and has a strong understanding of the challenges facing agriculture, having spent seven years as CEO for Rural Support, a charity in Northern Ireland that supports farmers and their families. In 2020 he was appointed CEO with the Farming Community Network (FCN), and now works across England and Wales helping those facing hardship.

Abi Kay has won several awards for her journalism, including the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists Young Leaders accolade and the Bob Davies Memorial Award for raising the profile of Welsh farming. She has a strong background in politics, working for a rural MP in Westminster and as a lobbyist for NFU, prior to joining the Farmers Guardian team.

Julia Latto has over 25 years of experience in economic development, and leads on a wide portfolio of national programs for Scottish Enterprise, including the Scottish Rural Leadership Programme. She has presented on leadership and entrepreneurial development in rural businesses worldwide, and is a member of the International Association of Programmes for Agriculture and Rural Leaders.

Commenting on the appointments, OFC Chair Emily Norton said,

“Agriculture is facing unpresented change, and it is vital OFC continues to be a platform for delegates to debate and discuss the challenges and opportunities ahead. Our board of directors contributes a wide range of skills and bring diverse experience, ensuring we continue to meet this objective, and deliver a conference that is fit for the future of the industry.

“The appointments of Jude, Abi and Julia further strengthen the board, bringing forward political, economic and specialist knowledge. They all demonstrated diversity of thought, a progressive and forward-looking outlook, an ambition for positive change, and a broad range of networks across our domestic and international countries.”