BBC Countryfile presenter to chair farming conference


Charlotte SmithCharlotte Smith, presenter on BBC1’s ‘Countryfile’ and Radio 4’s ‘Farming Today’, will chair the debate at the South of England Agricultural Society’s Farming Conference to be held on 12th November at the Showground in Ardingly.

The mother of two from Leicestershire, who is also voluntary Director of the Oxford Farming Conference, steps into the shoes of Sheila Dillon, from BBC Radio 4’s ‘The Food Programme’ who had hoped to chair the conference for the second time this year, but will be working abroad at the time.

“We are delighted that Charlotte can bring her extensive farming knowledge and experience chairing panels to help farmers in the South East tackleone of the most important global issues facing society, how to feed nine billion people and to debate the question: does the UK farmer have the capability to rise to this challenge,” said Duncan Rawson, a Nuffield Scholar sponsored by the Society and this year’s Conference Organiser.

“This year’s conference will open up a hugely topical debate. The arguments are well rehearsed; population growth, the rise of the middle class and ever increasing demands on a declining resource base will create pressures on the global economy like we have not experienced before.

“But for agriculture, whilst the challenges facing us are immense, we sit on the precipice of a new era; an era when the farmer who is prepared to embrace change and do things differently can look forward to a bright future.”

The conference will ask if this farmer could be a UK farmer? Can UK farmers compete on a global basis or will they be left behind by those farmers around the world with greater entrepreneurial flair? Three eminent speakers will lead the debate.

Kick starting the discussion will be economist, Government academic adviser and university lecturer Séan Rickard who is well known for his forthright views on food and agricultural policy. Bringing a robust scientific view to the debate will be second speaker, Alistair Leake, director of policy & public affairs for the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust. Last to step up and arguing why UK farming is first class, is hugely respected public speaker and manager of Kingston Hill Farm Ltd, David Christensen.

Sitting in the middle of 150 acres, the South of England Showground is the ideal venue to host the Farming Conference, sponsored by South East Farmer, Mayo Wynne Baxter, Complete Land Management (CLM) and Chavereys.

The event is free for people with an interest in agriculture and related industries and includes refreshments, however it is essential to register your place. To book or for more information visit or email

Farming Conference, Wednesday 12 November 2014, 6pm

South of England Centre, Ardingly, West Sussex, RH17 6TL                                                                                                                                                     (Near Haywards Heath. Junction 10 off M23)