THE rebel farmers who run Oxford’s alternative farming conference have allied themselves with the world’s most famous climate change protest group Extinction Rebellion.

Colin Tudge, the Wolvecote farmer who founded Oxford Real Farming Conference in 2009, has said the two groups are both fighting ‘industrial agriculture’ which is ruining the environment.

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The 75-year-old was speaking during his annual event in the city this week, while members of Extinction Rebellion (XR) staged a week of protests outside the original, corporate-sponsored Oxford Farming Conference.


Mr Tudge, who is also a science writer, warned that ‘governments, big industry and big finance’ are not doing ‘anything like enough’ to deal with the combined threats of global warming and mass extinction.

He went on: “The only hope, therefore, seems to lie with people at large – us – which is why we, the organisers of the Oxford Real Farming Conference (ORFC) support Extinction Rebellion (XR), the people’s movement that really is focused on the things that matter most.”

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Mr Tudge said that, because ORFC and XR were both fighting to save the natural environment, farming was often ‘caught in the cross-fire’ because ‘modern industrial agriculture – monocultural, high-input, and geared primarily to profit – is a prime cause of the world’s present crises’.

However, far from the groups being ‘anti-farmer’, he said the complete opposite was true.


He went on: “ORFC seeks to underpin and help bring about an approach to agriculture that is based on the twin principles of agroecology and food sovereignty – which is what is meant by ‘Real Farming’.

“Real farming can ensure a fair deal for everyone. For farmers (we need many more than we have now), for society at large (good food for everyone forever is possible), and for the biosphere – the natural world.


“In short, the ORFC and XR both aim to achieve harmony between humanity and the rest of creation – and both acknowledge that for this, ‘Real Farming’ is essential.”

Extinction Rebellion co-founder Gail Bradbrook concurred, saying: “As far as I’m concerned the front line for the ecological crisis in the UK lays with our farmers – we are natural allies.


“Government needs to spend more time with people who understand nature friendly farming, so that we can address multiple crises in a way that provides multiple solutions.”

The comments were made after Oxford environmentalist George Monbiot this week predicted that the global agricultural industry as we know it could be largely wiped out by the middle of this century by laboratory-grown alternative foods.

Environment secretary Theresa Villiers, meanwhile, told the Oxford Farming Conference that after Brexit the government would start paying farmers new subsidies for environmental ‘public services’ such as creating habitat for wildlife and efforts to tackle climate change.

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