Conference to tackle the big issue of today

The need to produce more food with less resources will be the theme of a conference to be held at Yorkshire's Bishop Burton College.

An impressive roster of guest speakers has been organised for the 2011 Rural Business Conference at the Bishop Burton College Centre for Agricultural Innovation on Tuesday February 8.

The conference, free to delegates, is on the theme Food Production: More for Less and builds on the topic of the 2010 conference Heading Towards the Perfect Storm: Climate Change, Population and Food Production, which was attended by more than 200 people.

Among the speakers will be Graham Stuart MP, chairman of the Education Select Committee; Professor George Marshall, assistant principal of the Scottish Agricultural College;, David Neale, business development manager at Masstock Arable (UK); Ian Tremain, business development director for Exalga; and Ben Stanley, livestock farmer and direct marketer.

The event organiser is the college's assistant principal for higher education and land based subjects, Kevin Kendall.

He said: "Until the late 70s food production was the key driver of the industry, resources seemed unlimited and politicians were keen to support production, either through UK or EU regimes, until overproduction became a political consideration.

"Since then issues such as pollution, environmental protection, human health, GM crops, animal welfare and more recently climate change, have influenced the direction of agricultural production systems.

"Alongside all this is the global issue of population growth and increasing population affluence, leading to a higher consumption of meat products.

"Following John Beddington's paper in 2009, the key issue now for farming is sustainability – how to produce more food with less resources, less energy, less water and producing less greenhouse gas emissions.

"In other words, increase production, feed the world, farm more efficiently and run an economically viable business.

"Fortunately these issues are not incompatible and we have put together a panel of influential speakers to address these topics."

The conference at the college near Beverley is being supported by Farexchange and the Yorkshire Agricultural Society. Those interested in attending should call 01964 553134.

The college's students have been celebrating a swathe of rosettes from Christmas fatstock shows.

A pen of lambs from the college took second place and included the reserve champion at Hull and took third place at Malton. Pigs won a first prize for carcases at Driffield, and a first prize and reserve championship in the cutters section at Hull.

Farm manager Dominic Naylor said: "We rehearsed for three weeks. The majority of the learners had little or no experience of preparing animals for show. They worked hard and with enthusiasm and the staff all felt that the end result was fantastic."