‘A Breath of Fresh Air’: BCBC conference 2022

A packed programme of expert speakers from the UK and beyond informed and inspired delegates at the 2022 BCBC Conference.

The theme for the conference, which was held virtually, ‘A Breath of Fresh Air’ to reflect BCBC chairman Karen Wonnacott’s drive to deliver positive, forward-looking messages after the difficulties posed by the Covid-19 pandemic and the current challenges facing the agricultural industry.

Building mental resilience was the theme for the opening session with former international Rugby Union referee and beef farmer Nigel Owens. Steve McLean, head of agriculture and fisheries for M&S Food who then explored what today’s consumers want from farmers and how this will affect technical innovation at farm level.

In the beef room, founder and CEO of Meat Imaging, Desi Cicale shared insights from the USA and what benefits it could offer UK producers. Prof. Jonathan Statham updated delegates on the latest developments in breeding technologies and phenotyping, drawing on experiences from Canada and the UK.

In the dairy room, Marco Winters, head of animal genetics at AHDB Dairy discussed the role of genetics in the industry reaching its Net Zero target, followed by speakers Claire Phyn of Dairy NZ Ltd, and Dr Andy Borrowman, veterinary surgeon and farmer Kevin Tlucek of Snake River Dairies, both from Idaho bringing expertise and insight from overseas.

The final conference session brought all delegates together for presentations on climate change from Prof Myles Allen of Oxford University and breeding and genetics by Prof Jude Capper. Jude discussed the gains made since the pioneering work of Sir John Hammond, how far that has brought us in terms of improving sustainability and what challenges and opportunities we face in the future.

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