Defining the Future

John Innes Conference Centre, Norwich, Thursday 7th February 2019


Andrew Saunders

Director Tulip Agriculture and Managing Director Dalehead Food

Andrew Saunders, Tulip Agriculture Director and Managing Director Dalehead Food. Andrew began his career in practical pig production after studying at Agriculture College. From this he joined the Associated British Foods and established BQP and then added abattoir/processing business before the business joined Dalehead foods/Flagship foods in 2000 before joining Tulip Ltd in 2003. Andrew has represented the business on BPEX, AHDB Pork and British Meat Processors Association (BMPA). Andrew is responsible for the Dalehead Foods Division within Tulip which supplies products to Waitrose as well as being responsible for BQP a pig production business which now represents 20% of all UK pig production. Andrew is Chair of BMPA and a group of 15 suppliers/processors covering all areas of Primary protein, reviewing the opportunities for supply chain cooperation.

George Crane


Cover crops are grown for the purpose of ‘protecting or improving’ soils between periods of regular crop production. Amongst other benefits, cover crops can promote microbial communities including arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) which have been shown to increase plant growth and yield in field conditions.
AMF form interactions with many agricultural crops, but some common farm practices can have detrimental impacts on mycorrhizal populations. My PhD considers how cover crops can influence diversity and abundance of AMF, how these populations associate with the following cash crop, and their impact on yield.

The project will utilise field-scale experiments, including the New Farming Systems trials at the NIAB regional centre in Morley, Norfolk, as well as glasshouse experiments to address project aims. This research will inform growers of the potential benefits of cover crops and AMF in UK agriculture.

Sir John Beddington

Former GCSA (2008-2013)

John Beddington was from 2008 until 2013 the Government Chief Scientific Adviser (GCSA) reporting directly to the Prime Minister. As GCSA, he was responsible for increasing the scientific capacity across Whitehall by encouraging all major departments of state to recruit a Chief Scientific Adviser.

During his time as GCSA he set up the Scientific Advisory Group in Emergencies (SAGE) that reported to the COBRA committee. He highlighted key issues of food, water and energy security in the context of climate change and ran the Foresight Team that produced a major report on the Future of Food and Farming.
He was awarded a Knighthood in 2010 and in June 2014 received The Order of the Rising Sun from the Japanese Government.

He is Senior Fellow at the Oxford Martin School and Professor of Natural Resource Management at Oxford University. He is the Chair of Rothamsted Research, Chair of the Systemic Risk Centre Advisory Panel at the LSE, the Chair of Rolls-Royce Environmental Advisory Board and he has recently stepped down as Acting Chair of the Met Office Board, he remains as a Non-Executive Director.

Jonathan Skinner

Bures Farm Partners

Jonathan lives near Watton and comes from a farming background with both of his grandfather’s farming large acreages in Norfolk. The farming business in Central Norfolk is run as “Bures Farm Partners” with a combination of arable and grassland. The business produces free range turkey’s for Christmas as well as having Pedigree Bleu du Maine, Millenium Bleu Sheep and cheviot and texel cheviot ewes and pedigree south devon cattle and pedigree Hereford cattle.

Minette Batters

NFU President

Minette runs a tenanted family farm in Wiltshire. The mixed farming business includes a 100 cow continental cross suckler herd, and a small herd of pedigree Herefords as well as sheep and arable. Diversification includes the conversion of a 17th Century tithe barn into a wedding and corporate events venue, and horse liveries. Minette co-founded the campaigning initiatives ‘Ladies in Beef’ and the ‘Great British Beef Week’. She has been an NFU member from grassroots through to County Chairman; she served as Wiltshire’s Council delegate and also as Regional Board Chairman for the South West. Minette has also been a member of NFU Governance Board and served as NFU deputy president for four years from 2014 to 2018. Minette is also a Trustee of Farm Africa.

Sam Steggles

Fielding Cottage

Deciding that school was not for me and managing half a term of a GNVQ I enrolled at Writtle College to study a National Diploma in Agriculture after 2 years of tremendous fun and a few sore heads I trundled up to Harper Adams where I had a further 3 years of embracing the Harper motto of “work hard, play hard”. Upon graduating with an Agri Food Marketing and Business Studies qualification I was fortunate enough to be offered a job selling poultry equipment within East Anglia.

Always the dreamer, I wanted to be doing something for myself, so 9 years ago dreaming turned into reality when I started farming with the purchase of 10 goats. Fielding Cottage now holds an enviable reputation for producing some of the best goats cheese in the world, winning super gold at the world cheese awards amongst others. Cheese is now available from Farm Shops, Delis, cheese retailers and wholesalers across the country and also in some of the major supermarkets, not forgetting our very own self service farm shop “The Goat Shed”. The roller coaster of highs and lows have been worth it when we look back and realise what has been achieved. Would I change anything? Absolutely not.

Jane Townsend

Easton & Otley College

After graduating from Exeter University as a secondary school teacher Jane has worked with the education sector for over 20 years. Her Masters from Seale-Hayne and her subsequent work within the Higher Education sector within FE establishments led her to develop her skills as a senior leader within Land Based colleges. Jane’s focus over the last 10 years has been developing poorly performing colleges and leading them to improve. Jane is the Principal at Easton and Otley College where she is utilising her past experience in developing and delivering top quality delivering top quality teaching; improving grades; shaping the curriculum to better suit the needs of employers; driving value and winning and retaining the confidence of all our friends and allies across the region, so they can have faith in our ability to deliver progress at the pace and standard required.


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The organisers

AF logo smlAF is the largest agricultural buying group in the UK with a buying power in excess of £ 250 million. The organisation is growing rapidly and provides an extensive range of products and services to more than 3500 members. AF's busy trading desks are seen as an extension to the farm office employing specialist buyers to save time and money for members on key farm inputs and other business costs such as electricity, telecommunications and general supplies.

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