I left Telford after the 2014 Cattle Breeders Conference with an enormous sense of pride and have enjoyed reflecting on my year at the helm of a club that seems to grow in stature year on year.
So, I want to start by thanking the many people who have supported me throughout the year and who worked hard to make sure this year’s conference was a success. The combined effort of a knowledgeable and ambitious committee, coordinated by our superb Club Secretary, Lesley Lewin, made my job so much easier.
I chose the theme ‘Breeding healthy food in a hungry world’ to explore the challenges and opportunities the cattle breeding industry faces in delivering more food to a growing global population, whilst addressing concerns over human health, animal welfare and environmental impact.
The British Cattle Conference has become a forum for joined up thinking, bringing together those involved in research, breeding, farming, processing and retailing, to put new science on the table and learn how to apply it in practice.
We were privileged to have a programme packed with thought provoking and informative speakers, predominantly from the UK – illustrating the capacity we have within, to take the beef and dairy industry forward. Both the beef day and the dairy day provided a diverse range of presentations, all with the conference theme in mind. These ranged from Nuffield Scholars giving us an insight into issues and opportunities from far corners of the world, to Martin Redfearn of Barclays Agriculture highlighting the need for excellent planning and management to develop successful farm businesses, from Ed Garner of Kantar Worldpanel exploring emerging consumer trends in grocery shopping to Marco Winters explaining developments in genomic bull proofs and Donald Biggar talking about the importance of maternal traits in suckler cows.
The informative programme was interspersed with plenty of breaks that provided delegates with the opportunity to discuss what had been said and to meet up with friends old and new. The British Cattle Conference also seems to be playing a valuable role in linking students with industry, providing an opportunity for those seeking a career in the livestock industry to meet and question those engaged in the many roles that cattle breeding offers.
The Club Dinner held on Tuesday night attracted a record number of delegates and, as well as enjoying good food and company, the ever popular ‘Any Questions’ session, with panellists Martin Redfearn (Barclays Bank), Alistair Driver (Farmers Guardian) and Norman Bagley (Policy Director, AIMS) answering questions on a diverse range of issues.
Throughout the conference I urged everyone to remember that BCBC is a Club – it exists for the benefit of its members. The knowledge we share is there for the greater good and I hope that everyone who attended got a sense of that and of the camaraderie that is forged by the Club.
Dr Phil Hadley now takes over as Chairman for the 2015 Conference and I hope you will join us in Telford again on the 19th, 20th and 21st of January, for what I am sure will be another very stimulating conference.