Second policy conference announced by the RABDF

Following the success of their inaugural re-formatted conference last year the RABDF has announced its plans for a second event to be held in London on Wednesday 14 November.  

Its programme will focus on all aspects affecting the current dairy industry and will look in detail at the potential implications Brexit could have on UK dairy farming as a whole and from the perspective of the retailer.

The day will be chaired by RABDF president Lord Curry of Kirkharle and Secretary of State for International Trade, Dr Liam Fox, has been invited to give an opening address and discuss what the future looks like post Brexit; including potential trade opportunities that are available to the UK and how the industry could help itself access this trade moving forward.

Dodd & Co’s Rob Hitch will outline the financial changes he envisages for the industry, in line with the UK leaving the EU, and how the impact will vary depending on system type and farm size.  

Premium retailer Waitrose will explain how they see Brexit affecting the retail chain and what they’ll be looking for from their farmers as we move closer to leaving the EU. 

Duncan Sinclair, head of agriculture, Waitrose, says farms need to be as prepared as possible for Brexit by developing on existing, and adopting new, techniques to ensure they are as efficient as possible.

“Brexit will bring a whole host of challenges for both the farmer and retailer but it is vital we continue to work together using best practice to ensure our high welfare standards remain in place.  It is also important to look at the positives that will be on offer to the dairy sector once we have exited the EU.”

The programme will also explore the impending Brexit views from a farm-level perspective through a panel discussion with previous Gold Cup winners.   Panellists will outline what they perceive to be the biggest challenges facing the dairy industry as well as the benefits that leaving the EU could bring to the sector.  Renowned dairy farmers Neil Baker, Mike King and Bill Higgins will sit on the panel which will be chaired by Nick Green, farm operations director, Lye Cross Farm.

The afternoon will be split into two sections with the first half focusing on cattle health and AMR and the second part looking at the need for youth development within the industry.  

Chief Veterinary Officer Christine Middlemiss will kick things off with an industry update on animal health and welfare whilst the Veterinary Medicines Directorate will follow with news on antibiotic reduction within the sector, including details of their new five year plan developments.  

The Andersons Centre Tony Evans will talk about his involvement with youth and why it is vital the industry invests in getting more young people into dairying.  

Mr Evans says with 56% of dairy farmers employing EU workers it is not resilient for us to continue to rely so heavily on overseas labour in the long term.

“If the current level of reliance on overseas labour continues we are likely to see a catastrophic failure within the industry – we therefore need to drastically move towards a sustainable UK workforce – which, in the first instance, will be aided by the development of today’s youth.”

The day will finish with a roundup of RABDF’s work over the past twelve months and an outline of the future policy work it will be focusing on in the lead up to exiting the EU.  

The conference will take place at One Birdcage Walk, London, starting at 10.00am and concluding at 4.00pm.  Tickets are now on sale and can be found at here alongside further information and a copy of the days programme – please note some slots are yet to be confirmed.  An early bird ticket rate is available on all ticket types until Monday 17 September and can be redeemed via the above link.  Please send any queries to or contact 02476 639317.

*Speakers and topics subject to change