Andrew Harrison, a final year student studying BSc (Hons) Agriculture with Animal Science at Harper Adams University (HAU) is the RABDF MSD Animal Health Dairy Student of the Year. He was presented with a £2,000 cash prize by MSD Animal Health and the university he represented received £1,000 towards a dairying educational project.
The runner up was Cennydd Jones studying Agriculture with Animal Science at the University of Aberystwyth and the four finalists selected from 28 entrants were Kirstie Baird BSc Agriculture, SRUC Ayr; Rachel Beasley, BSc (Hons) Agriculture with Animal Science, HAU; Phillip Donaldson, BSc Agricultural Technology with Professional Studies, Queens University, Belfast / CAFRE and Louis Smith M Eng, Foundation Degree Agricultural Management, Bridgwater College (Cannington Centre).
RABDF invited agriculture and vet students to complete an essay featuring business advice prepared by Kite Consulting featuring a 300 dairy cow family unit, currently a marginal business managed by a famer who was seeking a long term plan to ensure the enterprise remained viable for his son to completely take over on his retirement. Essays were judged by RABDF chairman Mike King, RABDF Council member William Westacott and Kite Consulting’s Edward Lott and Abby Cook. The six semi-finalists travelled to London on Friday 11 March to give a presentation on ‘The UK Dairy Industry in the Next 10 Years’.
“I am really pleased to receive such a prestigious award both for myself and for Harper Adams,” said Andrew Harrison who hails from Slaidburn, Lancashire where he has already gained experience as assistant manager of his family’s 60 cow herd with accompanying sheep enterprise. He has also spent time as an exchange student in the USA at Cornell University where he was able to further his interest in ruminant nutrition.
Scheduled to graduate this year, Andrew said: “I’m scheduling to continue my studies with an MSc in ruminant nutrition at HAU, then travel to New Zealand to gain as much experience as possible working on grass based dairy systems before eventually returning to my family’s business which I believe has a firm future. Whilst a relatively small scale business, I believe there is potential to improve the grassland management, double cow numbers, manage with one labour unit and in turn keep very tight control of costs.”
He added: “Whilst the next 18 months are going to be tough before we reach a sensible milk price, I believe that the dairy sector has a positive future. In fact now is the time to get in to dairying – it doesn’t heavily rely on payments, it offers a genuine active revenue stream and if production costs are kept in check, then I believe that dairy can be a profitable exercise.”
MSD Animal Health’s Sean Riches said: “It is encouraging to see such a high level of interest in this award, with so many young people entering this year who are clearly set on a career in the industry. New entrants bring fresh energy, are more open to new ideas and will be keener to embrace change, and that can only be good for the UK dairy industry currently. By working with RABDF on this award we hope we are helping to support future development and ensuring our industry remains a strong player in an increasingly global market. We are proud to be associated with such a well-targeted initiative and wish all those who entered a bright and fulfilling future in the UK dairy industry.”
RABDF chief executive, Nick Everington said: “Rewarding success and achievement, and promoting career opportunities in the dairy sector are key activities for our association. This particular award helps to identify some of the most intelligent and highly motivated youngsters who we are confident will help to secure the future for British dairy farming.”