< Welcome to the 2017 Conference Programme from Chairman, Iain Kerr

Welcome to the 2017 British Cattle Breeders’ Conference (BCBC).    Since its inception some sixty eight years ago, the BCBC has become a unique event, renowned for its mix of practical, high quality speakers. With the future of cattle breeding at heart, it links a wide spectrum of farmers, scientists, students and industry influencers.  BCBC is a fantastic forum to kick off the New Year, challenging ideas, introducing new science and technologies and providing the opportunity to meet people, stimulate thought, debate and discuss. 

The 2017 BCBC Conference will of course be the first since the Brexit vote and held in a year that will likely be a formative one for UK agricultural and political history.   

We have seen over many years how cattle breeding has greatly benefitted from the dynamic integration of science, new technologies, and innovation.  In this ‘new era’ I have no doubt that science and innovation will never have been more important for farmers now and for future generations.  New thinking, and strengthening the ability to innovate, will provide the advances and improvements that will increase efficiencies and produce populations of animals that can respond to the demands of a changing market place and deliver profitability. As we look to a market driven economy that will expect high levels of production efficiency, and will demand producer response to a wider agenda of competing challenges such as climate change, health and animal welfare, there is a need for us to examine whether the genetics we propagate at herd and breed level will deliver what will be required.

By the nature of cattle breeding new science adopted today may take years to deliver its full reward.  What science, new technology and innovation can add value to beef and dairy production in the short and medium term? Also, in this time of challenge for tomorrow’s generation how do we engage young people, encourage their passion for agriculture and secure their future?

The 2017 BCBC programme has been carefully crafted around these points and lies behind the theme of ‘Practical Innovation – Today’s Challenges for Tomorrow’s Generation’. 

A huge thank you is extended to everyone who has contributed in so many ways towards the 2017 British Cattle Breeders Conference.  First and foremost we have a rich mix of domestic and international speakers and I’d like to thank them for their ready willingness to attend. We are indebted to all of our sponsors for their invaluable support and in particular the mainline sponsors Afimilk; AHDB; ASDA; Mole Valley Farmers; and Waitrose.  I’d like to personally thank the members of the BCBC Committee for their ideas, input and hard work towards the construction of the 2017 programme.  A warm and sincere thank you also to Heidi Bradbury the BCBC Conference Organiser who so effortlessly gets the job done and makes it all happen.

I have been attending the BCBC as a delegate for some twenty years so to now be the Chairman of the 2017 Conference is truly a great honour.  It is very much my hope that as delegates you enjoy the programme and the people, and leave the 2017 BCBC informed, full of ideas, and with the energy and vision to embrace practical innovation and add value to every level of our great beef and dairy industries. I look forward to seeing you there.