Farmers and the public
BARLEYLANDS Farm is to be used as a shining example of how farmers should be engaging more with the public at an annual conference that helps shape agricultural policy across the UK.
The Billericay farm's open-gate policy will be highlighted during a key debate at The Oxford Farming Conference (OFC), an annual conference for UK farmers to be held between January 2 to January 4, 2013.
SEEN AND HERD: Chris Philpot is a firm believer in welcoming the public to Barleylands
Owner Chris Philpot said: "It is an honour to be invited to be part of the conference. It is quite a big deal."
The conference – held each year in the first week of January – has speakers from across the UK farming industry as well as policymakers and agricultural ministers from the British Government and the EU.
Mr Philpot said: "Basically, politicians realise that it is important that people should be engaging much more with farmers.
"They are trying to get the message out that it is farmers who look after the countryside, so it is important that we look after farmers and thus the countryside."
Barleylands, which produces wheat, oilseed rape, potatoes, peas and beans over 12,000 acres, has been lauded for its community-based educational approach.
"Children particularly love it – it is astonishing to see how many children don't have the first idea where their food comes from," Mr Philpot said.
"So many can't name what meat comes from pigs or what meat comes from cows, or that potatoes grow in the soil and come with soil on them.
"It's very rewarding to see schools coming in and the knowledge they gain from the activities we put on.
"Some farmers say that they don't always want the public on their farms.
"But it is possible to welcome people by supporting county school days, even if you don't want them at other times."
Barleylands was established in 1937 by the Philpot family with ten acres. It developed into a large arable farming business.
Over the years it has continued to grow and is now a multimillion pound enterprise attracting over 1.2 million visitors a year, with a total of 11,675 acres.
In addition, around 36,000 visitors enjoy the annual Barleylands Country Show, held each summer.
The farm will be featured in the second day of the conference under the discussion Farming In Society
Earlier in the day, Owen Paterson MP, secretary of state for the department of agriculture, food and rural affairs, and MEP Mairead McGuinness, who sits on the agriculture committee of the European Parliament, will be speaking.
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