FORMER AHDB Dairy Board member Jim Baird has called on 'positive and passionate' Scottish dairy farmers to put themselves forward for a role on the board.

AHDB is looking for farmers who will help shape the future of the organisation against a backdrop of Brexit, global price volatility, technological innovation and the changing habits of British shoppers.

Mr Baird, who runs two dairy farms in Lanarkshire with his brother, was a Dairy Board member for six years, said that he hugely enjoyed helping shape the priorities of AHDB Dairy, and learned a lot in the process: “I have a huge amount of respect for the people who sit around that table, they are leaders in their fields, but most importantly they are incredibly positive and passionate.

"That’s what we need to drive the industry forward, positive farmers who are solutions-focused, able to see the bigger picture and understand other people’s perspectives.”

AHDB dairy strategy director Paul Flanagan agreed: “I think it is really important that we have a Scottish voice and perspective on the board. The Government landscape is obviously different here and while AHDB’s purpose of helping farmers, growers and industry to succeed in a rapidly changing world is relevant right across Britain, our approach to working with levy payers and other stakeholders needs to be tailored slightly differently in each region and country.”

During Mr Baird's’s time on the board there were a number of key changes made, including the recent focus on optimal dairy systems and the decision to work more closely with processors on marketing dairy products.

He explained: “Previously there was a bit of a line in sand between us and the processors, we focused more on what happened up to the farmgate, and they dealt with what happened after the farmgate. However we knew we needed to work more closely which is why we have joined forces with Dairy UK on our new dairy marketing campaign, very much aimed at encouraging millennials to purchase more dairy products. It was a change of mindset for the Dairy Board, but a change for the better.”

Being on the Dairy Board, he said, was all about ensuring that AHDB got its balance of priorities right to support the industry in the long-term.

“The Dairy Board needs to make sure that the levy payer funding is being well spent on those activities that the industry needs to thrive. I think the balance is right at the moment with marketing, market insight and research and development all well covered.

“I would encourage Scottish dairy farmers to seriously considering applying to join the board, it is incredibly stimulating, it gets you off farm and away from the day job and you’ll spend time assessing the industry in a much more strategic way. It’s a great chance to make a difference and you won’t regret it for a minute.”

If you are interested in finding our more about a role on the AHDB Dairy Board, call Paul Flanagan on 07990 441758.