Sentry conference to debate key food issues

Published: 8 Jan 2014

Gather a group of farmers together to name the most pressing agricultural issues of the moment and no doubt most would arrive at similar answers. 
Whilst they may differ over their importance, surely CAP reform, employment, price volatility, or the ethics of renewable energy over food security would all feature. 
In recent years a lot of farming conferences have focussed on two of these - planning and preparing for the impact of a dramatic projected growth in the world's population and the vagaries of climate change. 
At this year's Sentry conference our speakers will be addressing the theme, New Frontiers - Shaping the future. Our endeavour is to look beyond the "what if" and assume "when". 
We will see how businesses have structured to benefit from that projected population growth and how they mitigate the risk of climate change and commodity market volatility. 
In addition, we will address the pertinent issues of food waste, government policy in times of austerity and how we attract and prepare future employees and managers. 
We often read that China is dominating global trade, but what does that mean for UK farmers? The experiences of AB Sugar, a company that has grown a business in China, contrasted with its expansion in Africa, will give an invaluable insight. 
Closer to home we may be more familiar with the scale and soil of farms in Eastern Europe, but not necessarily with what the greatest challenges are to running a business there. Spearhead chief executive officer Tom Green will describe its large farming operation in Poland, the Czech Republic and Romania. 
It is important to understand what are the main drivers to global markets. No longer can we make decisions solely on the UK's parochial experience. 
Thorsten Tiedemann heads global trade for Toepfer International. We will we hear his current opinion on the market and also learn about the influence of outside fund investment in global commodities. 
The topic of new entrants is often aired but seldom do we assess how well we are preparing those that enter farming and food supply for the world of work. David Llewellyn, vice chancellor of Harper Adams University is perfectly placed share his wealth of experience on the subject of attracting and preparing them. 
As a farming industry our challenge is to react to the market, producing more from limited resources whilst addressing the sustainability of our farming practices. But seldom do we consider influencing the externality of food waste. 
The EU wastes an estimated 80m tonnes of food annually. Tristram Stuart, a food waste expert, will expand on what he sees as the greatest barrier to changing attitudes towards wasting food. 
Finally, preparing any business for a global market place must always account for adapting to changes in government policy. Maria Eagle was appointed shadow secretary of state for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in the autumn reshuffle. 
In the aftermath of the reforms of the CAP and with an election planned for next year, she will discuss how we can create a resilient, growing food industry. 
Conference speakers 
Mark Carr, chief executive officer, AB Sugar. New frontiers, but where next? - an insight into AB Sugar in the UK and how the changing economies in China and Africa are influencing its work. 
Tom Green, chief executive officer Spearhead International. Scale matters - the European perspective; the background to European farming group Spearhead International, its experiences in Eastern Europe, and what he sees as the greatest drivers in the future. 
David Llewellyn, vice chancellor of Harper Adams University. The workforce of the future - the challenges of preparing our future workforce - how and what has changed, the type of people coming forward, and where he sees the greatest threat. 
Tristram Stuart, chief executive officer, Feeding the 5,000. Does waste hold the key to the solution? An environmental award winner for his work fighting food waste, Tristram will assess how the world looks at waste and its relevance to the agricultural community. 
Thorsten Tiedmann, executive general manager, global trade, Toepfer International. International volatility is opportunity - an overview of the grain market and how outside fund investment influences market volatility. 
Maria Eagle, shadow secretary of state for environment, food and rural affairs. Feeding the nation - how can we create a resilient, growing food industry? 
Conference details 
Theme? New Frontiers - Shaping the Future 
When? Wednesday, 5 February 2014, 9am 
Where? The Rowley Mile Racecourse, Newmarket, Suffolk CB8 0TF 
How much? Champions Gallery tickets - sold out. Millennium Suite tickets £80 + VAT (£96) per person 
Cheques payable to: Sentry Limited - Conference Account. Send to Conference Office, Sentry Ltd, The Hall, Willisham, Ipswich, Suffolk IP8 4SL, or contact Jo Woods on 01473 812010 or email jow@sentry.co.uk; or Linda Linton on 01473 812015 or email lindal@sentry.co.uk 
Courtesy of Farmers Weekly: http://bit.ly/KI8dG4

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