The Oxford Farming Conference is aiming to encourage diversity and inclusion in farming through the launch of a new scholarship.
The “Breaking Barriers Scholarship” will support two young individuals who are considering a career in agri-food.
According to OFC, the scholarship is a way for new farming entrants, from diverse backgrounds, to come to Oxford for the 7 January 2021 event.
The event theme “Business as Unusual” will allow them to explore the future of agriculture, innovation and technology with fellow peers.
The OFC Scholar programme, sponsored by McDonald’s UK, has supported over 400 scholars, aged between 22 and 30.
OFC Director Emily Norton, who is chairing the programme this year, said it had never been more important to welcome the inspiration that the next generation offered.
“The Breaking Barriers Scholarship allows us to ‘send the elevator back down’ and help others take the first step on the ladder.
“The scholarship is an ideal way for ambitious new farming entrants… to meet and learn from inspiring leaders, and get their voices heard.”
The scholarship is looking for candidates who reflect broad diversity of geographical and academic experiences.
Candidates must come from from outside of the agri-food sector but are keen to enter it, and are not required to have any qualifications or be working in the industry.
Holly Ferguson is a precision dairying scientist, and attended the OFC for the first time in 2020.
She said: “The scholar’s programme creates a platform for young professionals to question the industry, debate contrasting agricultural views and learn about those who have achieved great and novel industry success.
“Supporting young people in agriculture, giving them the tools required to flourish, to make mistakes, learn from them and become champions for the sector, is a necessary part of UK agriculture’s continued succession.”