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Dairy industry should work together to ensure future viability, principal urges


Reaseheath dairyunity


The increasing challenges facing the dairy industry and the part Reaseheath College can play in addressing these pressures were underlined by Principal Meredydd David yesterday (Tuesday December 14).

Addressing Reaseheath’s Dairy Sustainability Conference, an annual event organised at the college’s Cheshire campus, Meredydd urged the whole supply chain, from farmers to retailers, to work together to ensure that the industry remained viable while meeting environmental and food safety demands.

Addressing over 160 delegates including suppliers, primary producers, milk buyers, processors and food retailers, he said: “We all recognise there are challenging times ahead. The only way forward is by working together, sharing experience, knowledge and aspirations.

“To maintain our dairy industry as a viable, vibrant industry we need to see value added all the way through the supply chain. When it comes to creating and sharing that value we need to recognise that we all have a responsibility firstly to our own business, making sure that it is profitable and secondly, responsibility to the whole chain.”

Outlining the key role which Reaseheath is playing in taking the dairy industry forward, Meredydd emphasised: “As a specialist college, we recognise we have the assets, knowledge and experience that can be harnessed to support our industry. We can take the ‘risk’ for the sector through the practical application of science, new ideas and innovation which we can demonstrate to the farming community.”

He outlined key areas in which Reaseheath has progressed this year, which included:

  • Commissioning a demonstration anaerobic digestion (AD) plant which is exploring the feasibility of turning farm waste into renewable energy
  • Developing a specialised training initiative in dairy processing to meet significant skills shortage within the industry
  • Moving forward with the Reaseheath Agricultural Development Academy, which provides training and skills development for the farming community
  • Building and opening a Food Innovation Centre, where food production businesses could try out ideas and develop new products with support from specialist technicians and food scientists

Future plans included:

  • Developing Reaseheath’s farm as a centre of best practice, particularly in Lean Dairy Management
  • Including the principles of Lean Management in the education and training of the next generation of farmers, farm managers and farm workers
  • Working to help farmers address the needs of the Water Framework Directive
  • Working on new applications of AD digestate for crop growth trials, diversification and commercial food growing opportunities
  • Developing the college as a centre where ‘science into practice’ is demonstrated to the farming community

Key speakers at the conference included Mansel Raymond, Chair of the NFU National Dairy Board, and Richard Jones, Head of Dairy Policy, Defra.

A supplier’s point of view was presented by James Neville, Managing Director of Volac, which produces animal feed and feed supplements and dairy ingredients for human consumption.

Processors and retailers were represented by Debra Lees, Buying Manager Dairy (Asda); Jonathan Dixon, Asda Account Manager

(Arla Foods) and Martin Evans, Asda Dairylink Chairman (Arla Foods Milk Partnership).

Karolina Klaskova, a Dairy Systems Analyst for DairyCo, presented the fundamentals of making a profit from dairy farming.

Reaseheath’s farm manager Mark Yearsley and successful Cheshire farmer Ed Dale described how they maximised profits by matching production to the market.

The final group discussion was led by Emma Penny, editor of the Farmers Guardian.


Reaseheath College is recognised as the dairy and agriculture centre of excellence in England. The national conference was organised by the Reaseheath Agricultural Development Academy with support from the college’s Enterprise Delivery Hub.

The programme was run in partnership with DairyCo, Volac and the NFU and part funded by the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE), which is supported by Defra.

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