The new Chairman of the Oxfordshire branch of the CLA, Roddie Feilden, has urged politicians and policy makers not to overlook people who live and work in the countryside.
Mr Feilden (pictured above) has replaced Richard Binning in one of the most important rural roles in the county.
Mr Feilden lives and farms near Witney, having previously worked for Knight Frank for 11 years as well as working in the travel industry and for consultants advising on the conversion and regeneration of farm and estate buildings, and creating rural business parks. In 2004 he returned to take on the family farm, which is predominantly arable.
Mr Feilden has spoken of the importance of people to the health and prosperity of rural communities.
He said: “The narrative that ‘traditional’ farm and estate management equates to bad management is unfair, because much of what we do in the countryside revolves around, or relates to, people.
“It seems to me that people who live and work in the countryside are often overlooked, and at worst, seen as acceptable ‘casualties’ in the rush for change, so let’s not forget them.
“I feel fortunate to have lived and worked through the 1980s, with all of its excesses, because if anything it makes it easier to apply the hindsight we now have on almost every aspect of rural life today whether it be soil management, hedgerows, conservation, energy, and of course climate change.
“For example nothing has given me more pleasure in what has been an awful farming year than seeing areas of nectar mix planted for bees and other insects positively humming during the hot days of this summer.”
As Oxfordshire branch Chairman, Mr Feilden will be representing landowners, farmers and rural businesses across the county.
Outgoing Chairman Mr Binning said: “I have enjoyed my time as chair of the Oxfordshire branch and the three years have flown by.
“When I took on the role, CLA members had concerns around broadband and fly-tipping, as well as wider political issues like Brexit and future agricultural policy; we have made more progress on some issues than others. I think one of the high points has been the strength of the relationship we have built with Thames Valley Police.
“The health of the rural sector in Oxfordshire is a constantly changing picture, but our members adapt quickly and the advice and leadership shown by the CLA has been excellent.
“I hand over to Roddie as chair. I know we are in good hands and wish him all the best.”
CLA South East Regional Director Michael Valenzia said: “We wish to place on record our sincere thanks to Richard for his tremendous work, ideas and enthusiasm over the course of his chairmanship. We are delighted to welcome Roddie into the role and look forward to working closely with him over the next few years.”