Shape the future of dairy

At AHDB, the levy payer is at the centre of everything we do. That’s why we’re asking you to tell us what you want from us.

Shape the future explained

Our sector councils have identified key ‘priorities’ which they think are important to dairy farmers and processors. The priorities are shown below with blue headings and marked A, B, C….

Each priority contains ‘streams’ of work which show how we at AHDB are working to meet those priorities. The work streams for each priority are titled in green and numbered 1, 2, 3…

Please read through them, using the links for more information, and decide how important you think each priority and work stream is to you and your business.

From 11 April, you will then be able to rate how important you think these priorities are to you and your business through the shape the future portal.

The Dairy Sector Council has identified the following three priorities for the industry:  

(A) Building a positive reputation for dairy farming and driving demand at home and overseas 

(B) Supporting dairy farmers to operate more profitably 

(C) Help farmers prepare for the future by driving animal health and welfare, and environmental standards   

(A) Building a positive reputation for dairy farming and driving demand at home and overseas

 1. Educating consumers of the future

Children are the consumers of tomorrow. They are key to ensuring the long-term sustainability of the UK food and farming industry. Through our education work, we are committed to increasing children’s understanding of where and how their food is grown, reared and produced.  

Activities include: 

2. Protecting and enhancing the reputation of the dairy industry

We work with others across the industry to have a collective voice and respond when necessary to protect and promote its value, both nutritionally and environmentally.  

We are regularly contacted by TV and newspapers and make sure that they’re given the facts to fairly represent the industry and where appropriate, we also provide spokespeople. 

We also have a strong record in challenging misinformation. Anyone in the farming industry knows that at times it comes under fire from competitors, individuals and the media looking to damage its reputation. Instances over the last 12 months include that going vegan can save the planet and the suggestion that cow milk could be on its way out.   

3. Our ‘We Eat Balanced’ consumer marketing campaign

Our We Eat Balanced campaign is another way that we promote dairy and meat to the consumer as a positive food choice. We are the only organisation that allows the industry to have a collective voice in this way. The campaign is aimed at positively influencing attitudes and purchase intent of consumers who are considering reducing their consumption of dairy and meat. This kind of publicity, backed by data and evidence, shows the role British agriculture plays in a balanced and sustainable diet. 

Activities include: 

  • We Eat Balanced ran during September 2021 and January-February 2022 to inform consumers about the UK’s sustainability credentials, along with health messages promoting dairy as a natural source of vitamin B12
  • The advert featured across ITV, Channel 4 and Sky, and we ran promotions across eight major supermarket chains, newspapers and social media
  • Last September, our campaign videos were seen over 5.5 million times across social media, while the 2022 campaign burst generated over 30 million impressions

4. How we promote dairy exports to overseas markets

Our exports work increases your access to markets and exports of British dairy products and its promotion to overseas markets​. We do this by linking up British sellers with international buyers so they can get the best value for their products.  

Activities include: 

  • We work with the British government and processors to facilitate trading opportunities which bring value for levy payers
  • We have representatives in key international markets such as China and USA, who coordinate and lead our in-country export activity. This has proved hugely valuable given recent travel restrictions
  • We showcase British produce at international trade fairs and host British exporters such as Gulfood to provide them with a platform to meet potential clients, develop existing relationships and showcase the best of British products to a global audience. Our Quality Dairy from Britain video showcases the best of British dairy to buyers across the world
  • We monitor consumer behaviour internationally, and analyse new markets to understand the potential demand for dairy products

(B) Supporting dairy farmers to operate more profitably

 1. Using market intelligence analysis

Market intelligence describes all the information covering a company's market. This might be prices or trends, or exports, for example, both competitor and customer, which are gathered and analysed. The findings help the business owner understand what they are up against so they can tailor their approach and be more profitable. The evidence we gather is relayed back to you, the levy payer, in the form of easy-to-digest, relevant information available to all via our website.  

Activities include:  

  • We provide accurate, robust and independent data and analysis to dairy producers and others across the industry so that informed decisions can be made, such as our newsletter Dairy Market Weekly
  • Our market intelligence work enables us to create tools like the Farm Business Review, to help farmers plan in the face of change
  • Our evidence increases the chance of government decisions being made in the best interests of both individual levy payers and the industry as a whole
  • We have worked to help demystify the EU exit so you can prepare your business for change
  • The twice-yearly Agri Market Outlook, which gives you a whole-market overview and details the official end-of-season supply and demand estimates

2. Dairy breeding and genetics

Year-on-year genetic improvement provides farms with a great opportunity to improve their herd’s productivity, health and welfare 

We invest over £0.5 million each year in genetics and are an independent source for genetic evaluations, breeding indices and analysis for all major UK dairy breeds. Ninety-five per cent of dairy semen sold in GB uses our independent genetic and genomics data.

Our work enables livestock producers to drive genetic improvement, and can help improve farm profitability and reduce environmental impact. 

Activities include:  

  • Our Spring Calving Index (£SCI), an across-breed genetic ranking index designed for UK spring block calving herds, and we have an autumn index too (£ACI)
  • Our Dairy herd genetic reports available to dairy farmers who fully milk record, enabling you to identify the strengths and weaknesses of the herd and make informed breeding decisions
  • Dairy herd genomics which uses a young animal’s DNA to estimate its genetic potential and gives you confidence to make informed breeding decisions with your youngstock

3. People working in agriculture and labour supply

We deliver a skills programme to help farmers get the skills they need to secure a professional, confident workforce to keep pace with emerging technologies and innovation. We work with  farming unions, Lantra, Landex and others across the industry to identify what specialist skills are needed and deliver training in these areas.  

Activities include: 

  • Our AgriLeader programme, which provides a platform where like-minded farmers can meet, exchange ideas and learn fromexperts and peers. It focuses on business leadership, growth and resilience. The programme offers something for everyone: from AgriLeader Bitesize short talks to our two-day flagship event the AgriLeader Forum
  • We help set standards. For example, we joined forces with NFU and industry employers to set standards for six Trailblazer Apprenticeship schemes, including ones for stockpersons, livestock unit technicians and general farm workers
  • Dairy Pro, our one-stop-shop for training and development of the dairy farming industry. We use it to host events throughout the country. In addition to single person membership, it offers Business Group Membership to encourage businesses small and large to bring together and track the professional development of their workplace employees in one location

(C) Help farmers prepare for the future by driving animal health and welfare, and environmental standards

1. Supporting the dairy industry to deliver sustainable change

Protecting the environment and reducing the industry’s carbon footprint with a view to reaching Net Zero is a major part of our work and, we believe, hugely important to the future success of farming. 

Activities include: 

  • We work with farming unions, processors and others through the Dairy Roadmap to help the industry reach net zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions while ensuring the continued prosperity of the industry, and the provision of safe, affordable, nutritious and sustainable produce for years to come
  • Our clear and independent guidance, delivered online, at Strategic Farms and events, informs on-farm decisions that seek to lessen environmental impact while optimising profitability. Examples include: 
    • Our genetic indexes Feed Advantage and EnviroCow help you breed a more economic and environmentally friendly cow  
    • AHDB’s grass campaign aims to get you thinking about grass (grazed grass or silage) as the most important feed for livestock
  • We provide guidance on how to reduce ammonia emissions on dairy farms, including how to control the release of nitrogen from manures in livestock housing and slurry stores. This will help the UK to meet its legally binding, international targets to reduce emissions from 2005 levels by 8% by 2020, and by 16% by 2030
  • BBSRC are investing £500,000 in UK agriculture in carrying out research with us to help the farming industry transition to more sustainable practices, and ultimately net zero carbon by 2040. The research will include management of organic materials and livestock breeding

2. Improving animal health and welfare

Levy-funded research and development plays a vital role in supporting farmers to improve the health and welfare of their cows, including important areas such as mastitis and lameness.

We contribute to various industry initiatives continue to champion improvements in calf health, welfare and survival including the GB Dairy Calf Strategy.

Activities include:

  • Our Healthy Feet Programme saves a typical herd £9,325 per year and is delivered by 180 trained Mobility Mentors who work with farmers to reduce lameness on farm
  • Over 400 people have been trained to deliver our Mastitis Control Plan to farmers with around 31,000 cows benefiting each year
  • From feeding colostrum and weaning to monitoring growth rates and disease control, our information and resources can help you to manage your dairy calves at this crucial stage
  • We collect data and co-ordinate actions so that we can protect and promote the reputation of the dairy sector. We counter negative challenges and misconceptions, and provide robust data and evidence to support the wider industry. Evidence shows that consumers trust British products and believe the UK to have a high standard of animal health and welfare

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