On the eve of the UK’s Largest Dairy Show, the Bath & West Showground once again played host to the prestigious Dairy Industry Dinner, which included the presentation of the Dairy Industry Award. Over 350 key members of the dairy industry attended the ever-popular event on Tuesday 2 October which was held in partnership with Barber’s, BV Dairy, Crediton Dairy, Coombe Farm Milk Pool, Lye Cross Farm, Pattemores Transport, Rodda’s, Wyke Farms, Yeo Valley; West Country Family Dairy Businesses working together. While the reception was supported by long term partners, Burges Salmon. The keynote speech was delivered by Nick Whelan, Chief Executive of Dale Farm, the largest UK owned dairy cooperative.
This year the Dairy Industry Award was presented to David Herdman.
David farms in a family partnership near St Neots in Cambridgeshire. Despite this not being in the heart of the dairy industry country, he has a herd of extremely high yielding Holsteins (12,000 litres/head) now milked robotically. This geographic exposure stimulating the requirement and importance to him to work collaboratively. Initially a Dairy Crest supplier, the business has evolved and is now part of a Muller trading relationship. In addition, they farm 2,000 areas of arable from which the grains are sold through collaboration as a CamGrain member.
David has always been an exemplar in collaboration and for the past 20 years has been involved in developing groups of farmers to work with their dairy processors.
Initially David formed the A1 group supplying Dairy Crest, Fenstanton. In 2004 David was elected as a farmer director of Dairy Crest Direct (DCD), this organisation representing up to 1,700 dairy farmers at the time selling their milk to Dairy Crest, becoming chairman in 2007. During his tenure as Chairman of DCD he helped develop many leading initiatives and in engaging closer working relationships with retailers – getting dairy farmers closer to retail customers being a key skill David has, underpinned throughout by elected accountability of all representatives.
In addition, DCD developed a separate company to develop a carbon foot-printing tool, the first developed by farmers, for farmers, to gain accreditation by the Carbon Trust.
In 2012, and the launch by Government Minister Jim Paice MP of the Dairy Fund collaboration initiative worth £5m, David as Chairman oversaw a successful DCD bid for part of this, and through close consultation, developed the very first DPO – Dairy Producer Organisation, as legitimately recognised by the EU and UK Govt – the very first in the UK. He also led initiatives to establish formula milk pricing, and one of the first groups to express interest in dairy futures, and the part these would play in farmer contract relationships.
In 2015, the Dairy Crest dairies assets were sold to Muller Milk and Ingredients, David led the 650 farmers that transferred to Muller via a new company called Direct Milk DPO Ltd and so established a successful division of DCD. DCD continues to flourish with Dairy Crest at Davidstow, whilst David developed a brand new amalgamated farmer representational organisation with the Muller farmers.
Working with Muller farmers David established a new rep body for the 2,000 farms nationwide that supplied Muller, establishing the Muller Milk Group, (MMG) underpinned as always, by elected accountability throughout. During 2017, David was elected the Chairman of this new body, MMG.
David as a dairy farmer has navigated through well over a decade as Chairman of elected and accountable dairy farmer collaboration representative bodies, DCD, Direct Milk and now MMG. He has provided his quiet, professional, dependable and skillful leadership throughout, his expertise assisting 100s of dairy farmers and their supply chains across the UK.