Digest 77


BCBC Conference Chair 2022 - Dr Karen Wonnacott

Message from the Chair - ‘A Breath of Fresh Air’

Our ambition from the outset was to deliver a factual, positive, forward-looking British Cattle Breeders Conference after the ongoing difficulties posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and to provide ‘A Breath of Fresh Air’ towards the challenges continually facing our hardworking and resilient agricultural industry.

We were moved to tears, bombarded with great science, blessed with inspirational speakers, and given practical advice on how we can improve our businesses and move forward in these ever-changing times.

Former Rugby Union referee and beef farmer Nigel Owens opened the Conference by explaining that asking for help is not a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of great strength. It’s important to understand the value of mental health not just for individuals, but families and the wider industry – we must support one another.

We have some of the best animal welfare conditions in the world and we can farm in environmentally friendly ways that should ensure that the UK industry is at the forefront of sourcing decisions. Farmers have a real opportunity to embrace change to the benefit of their business and to the UK consumer, were key messages from speaker Steve McLean of Marks & Spencers.

Closing the Conference was the Sir John Hammond Award recipient for 2021, Professor Jude Capper, who highlighted the importance of considering economic viability and social accessibility as well as environmental responsibility within discussions on sustainability.

Several of our speakers across the day emphasised how UK Agriculture can be part of the climate solution but that it will take a concerted effort from the livestock sector to influence climate policy and there is still more that can be done.

It has been a great honour and privilege to Chair the British Cattle Breeders Club and to play a very small part in the Club’s rich history. I would like to thank all our sponsors for their support, which enabled us to continue to deliver a conference, and those people who have supported me as we faced a continually changing world. Many thanks to my Vice Chair, Amy Hughes, our Club Treasurer Andy Dodd and our amazing (and incredibly patient) Secretary, Heidi, without whom this Conference could not have taken place.

The BCBC provides a brilliant networking platform for farmers, scientists, vets, students and industry influencers and the Conference enables the latest developments to be aired in a friendly and informative forum. The need to progress British cattle breeding and genetics by utilising sound R & D and embracing new technologies and innovation has never been more important, with margins getting ever tighter and the input costs rising still further.

I wish Amy, Ben and the BCBC Committee all the very best in the coming year and in planning the 2023 Conference and 75th Anniversary of the British Cattle Breeders Club. I am really looking forward to seeing you all there!

Dr Karen Wonnacott