Blog: No point sitting on the side-lines moaning

Monday, 18 July 2022

East Devon dairy farmer Rob Nancekivell recently joined our Dairy Sector Council; in this blog he tells us a little bit more about himself, his first meeting and the recent Shape the Future vote.

I farm in partnership with my brother. We’ve been in farming all our lives and our family delivered milk to doorsteps for over 70 years. Around the time I left school, we had the opportunity to expand the farm which has grown from 70 cows to 250 today.

We installed got four Lely robots eight years ago to give us more flexibility and reliance on people to manage the cows. Having studied agricultural engineering, I’m not scared of the technology and trying different approaches.

The opportunity to join the sector council sounded quite interesting and exciting. When I started looking at AHDB, I realised there’s lots of potential and wanted to learn more. I'm not afraid to question things and always believed there's no point in sitting on the side-lines moaning, sometimes you've got to get involved.

Some people's illusion of people who go on these on the boards is we don't actually do any real work, but that’s definitely not true. We’ve only got a small team here on the farm and I’m very hands on.

Part of what I'd like to try and do is to help make AHDB more visible and reach the next generation of farmers. We need to be better at letting farmers know about all the tools and services on offer for their levy.

I think we've also got great stories to tell about the nutritional value of our products, which sometimes get lost in all the in all noise. AHDB’s We Eat Balanced advertising campaign was really good and got a potentially complicated message across in a very simple form.

At my first sector council meeting in June we discussed the Shape the Future results, and I don't think they were a huge surprise. People expected them to go roughly the way they did it gave us confidence in the direction we are heading.

There was a lot of discussion about working collaboratively with other organizations to achieve the aims of what the farmers wanted coming out of the vote. Overall, it was a positive meeting with a good mixture of experience in the room.

We’re trying not to make any massive knee jerk reactions. At our next meeting we’ll be and setting the general direction, seeing what AHDB’s management team has suggested and formulating the plan further forwards.

In the meantime, back at home I’ll be focusing on the challenges many other farmers are facing such as rising input costs. Are we making the most of our fertilizer use? Are we using our slurry to the best advantage? Can we do something with renewables to reduce our reliance on the on the grid?

It’s really dry here at the moment and there’s not a lot of grass so I’m planning on moving our youngstock onto our silage fields that aren’t normally grazed. Rather than cutting the grass for a very poor third cut, I’m trying to sort some temporary fencing and water solutions which is keeping me busy. That and getting ready to combine 100 acres of wheat in a week so. The business of farming never stops.

Meet the other members of the dairy sector council