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Packed Conference Schedule at Cereals 2014

03 June 2014

UK - Cereals 2014 is hosting one of the widest-ranging conference programmes in the arable farming calendar where some of the most topical political, technical and business issues will be aired.

CAP greening is likely to be one of the hottest topics at Cereals, with DEFRA expected to unveil its implementation of the controversial greening rules in the next few weeks.

The Arable Conference at Cereals, partnered by The Oxford Farming Conference and sponsored by HGCA, is opening its series of debates on this subject, the first of four topical sessions to be aired over the two days.

In addition, the popular technical seminars return this year to highlight some of the sector’s key challenges and discuss how they can be managed. And principal sponsor HSBC will be holding a series of open forums, including a question and answer session with Owen Paterson, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

Cereals takes place on Wednesday 11 and Thursday 12 June at Chrishall Grange, near Duxford, Cambridgeshire.

The Arable Conference

The CAP session at 11.30 on Wednesday will examine whether the latest reform benefits production in the UK or mainland Europe.

It will ask whether farmers should compete for Pillar Two money and will tackle the highly controversial three-crop rule and whether it makes sense in the UK, where farmers have already made great strides to marry high productivity with environmental responsibility.

Water management comes under the spotlight at 14.45 on Wednesday, asking what can be done to manage better the extremes of flood and drought.

Paying for agronomy is the contentious topic to be discussed on Thursday at 11.30. Expect lively debate on the merits or otherwise of serviced agronomy versus paid-for advice.

The fourth and final session tackles an oft-ignored topic – soil. Starting at 14.45, it will ask who should safeguard agriculture’s number one resource and how should they go about it?

The Arable Conference at Cereals has proved to be a popular addition for Cereals visitors, says OFC director and chief executive of NIAB Tina Barsby.

"We invite people, with opposing views, to share their knowledge and perspective on often challenging topics, encouraging the audience to have their say. Past experience has shown this to be a very popular formula."

HSBC Forums

DEFRA secretary Owen Paterson and NFU president Meurig Raymond headline this year’s series of forums hosted by Cereals 2014 principal sponsor HSBC.

The Q&A session on Wednesday morning at 09.30 is open to anyone who would like to join in some lively debate, says Allan Wilkinson, Head of Agriculture at HSBC.

“There is plenty to talk about, including CAP reform, TIFF and the trade gap, as well as wider matters like the government’s response to flooding and bovine TB,” he adds. DEFRA minister Lord de Mauley will replace Mr Paterson on Thursday for a similar session.

On Wednesday afternoon at 13.00 Joseph Glauber, chief economist at United States Department of Agriculture, will examine what is driving global markets, how the US is making the most of them and what lessons the UK can learn.

On both days an expert panel will discuss the UK’s position in the global market, the challenges that lie ahead and how it can remain competitive.

There is an opportunity to take a break from business on both afternoons with an informal Q&A with Sam Warburton, captain of the British & Irish Lions 2013,who steered his team to victory over tough Australian opposition.

Technical seminars

Cereals technical seminars return following their very successful launch last year. This year’s sessions examine some of the “bigger picture” issues likely to have an impact on arable farmers.

Social media is the first topic at 10.00 on Wednesday. This session examines the value of platforms like Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook and YouTube and whether they can benefit farming.

Wheat yields are the focus on Wednesday afternoon at 13.00. Two years ago at Cereals, Rothamsted and BBSRC launched their 20:20 wheat programme to provide the tools and knowledge to help increase wheat yields by 20t/ha in 20 years. This session examines whether climate change will help or hinder the process, and if plant breeding and agronomic advances can deliver the gains.

The 10.00 session on Thursday looks behind the scenes at what technology might drive “sustainable intensification”, such as genetic and agronomic improvement and advances in precision farming.

The final session at 13.00 on Thursday examines the increasing threat of regulation to arable farmer’s agrochemical armoury. Which chemicals are under the biggest threat, and why? How will farmers adapt once they are gone?

Other attractions

For the first time Cereals will host a CPD points trail, offering up to 12 BASIS points, all of which can be collected on a single day. At least eight NRoSO points will also be on offer.

McDonald’s, Massey Ferguson and De Lacy Executive will sponsor the Inspire Pavilion, a new feature in the educational area of this year’s event. The aim is to highlight the vast and varied opportunities within the agricultural industry to attract more young people.

Cereals is also hosting the new International Machinery Manufacturers’ Awards, supported by the AEA, The Institution of Agricultural Engineers, The Royal Agricultural University and Farmers Weekly. These machinery Oscars are open to piece of kit launched in the past 18 months by a company selling farm machinery – but which will get the most votes?

More familiar Cereals features return, including hundreds of crops plots to illustrate the wealth of agronomic developments on show. Other specialist areas include machinery, working demonstrations, post-harvest technology, business area, potatoes, renewables, careers and education and the Syngenta Sprays and Sprayers arena that hosts the latest spraying technology and equipment.

Haymarket has put extra emphasis on getting visitors on to and off the site this year with the minimum of hassle. To help speed access further, visitors can buy tickets online so they don’t have to queue at entrances.

Tickets cost £23 each (£19 for students), with discounts available for larger groups.

Further details about Cereals can be found at

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