Nick Everington, chief executive of the Royal Association of British Dairy Farmers (RABDF) for nearly 15 years, has announced he will be retiring from the organisation in October.

Mr Everington has helped lead the charity through a number of challenges and opportunities for the dairy industry. He was appointed just after the 2001 Foot and Mouth outbreak and, with the Council, took it through the 2007 outbreak, periods of significant industry restructure, record high incomes and the latest severe downturn in milk price. 

In his time at the helm, he established RABDF Events as a trading arm of the charity so the specialist staff could run other, non-agricultural events at a profit, with the proceeds supporting the development of its own annual Livestock Event and part-funding the organisation. The Livestock Event – previously called The Dairy Event – has become a major annual business-to-business opportunity in its own right, moving to the NEC several years ago to improve transport links and exhibitor facilities.

Other achievements include the rise of the annual Gold Cup competition, hosted jointly with National Milk Records (NMR), which has gone from strength to strength and is now widely regarded as the UK’s premier dairy award. 

In conjunction with AHDB and the British Grassland Society in particular, an on-going series of knowledge transfer events on themed subjects continue to generate large attendances from dairy farmers. 

And Mr Everington’s passion for encouraging the next generation of dairy farmers means the range of training and educational activities has grown; ‘Entrepreneurs in Dairying’, supported by various Colleges, Andersons, AHDB and the NFU has proved very successful.

Always keen to champion the cause and highlight the plight of dairy farmers, Mr Everington  masterminded the high profile 4 pint poly bottle image in 2012 which clearly depicted the losses made by dairy farmers, was tweeted by 3.5m people and helped raise awareness amongst the public, resulting in an improved price paid to farmers at the time. 

With these achievements testament to Mr Everington’s focus on the continual development of the organisation, he says he is now hoping to invest his retirement in pursuing new projects.

“My time at RABDF has been incredibly rewarding,” he says. “I’ve had the good fortune to work with some very talented staff, Council members, chairmen and presidents, and have seen the RABDF expand its remit to become a key strategic commentator and leader in the sector. 

I hope I’ve left the heritage of an organisation now focused on overcoming challenges to the profitability and reputation of the industry, as well as delivering a superb annual industry event and the much-coveted Gold Cup.”

RABDF president Lord Don Curry says Mr Everington will be a hard act to follow. “Nick has provided inspiration and enthusiasm through some of dairy farming’s toughest times. He has been particularly committed to supporting the next generation of dairy farmers and technicians, and to communicating the value of dairy farming to the outside world.”

RABDF chairman Mike King adds: “Nick is to be admired and applauded for his unflagging belief in the industry and positivity in tough times. He has never been afraid of trying new things, and this is a credit to his imagination and courage. We wish him a very happy retirement and every success in any new ventures."