CORNWALL WINS AGAIN IN DAIRY FARMER AWARDS
PUBLISHED: 16:12 31 October 2016 | UPDATED: 12:31 30 August 2017
Established 80 years ago and open to those who work with milk across Cornwall, Devon, Somerset and Dorset, the West Country Dairy Award provides £15,000 of educational funding for those in the dairy industry. This year’s winner, Penzance dairy farmer, Georgina Roberts won praise for her commitment to developing the industry through good practice, a rounded appreciation of consumer expectation, environmental awareness and the very real economic pressures of production.
Bill Clarke, Co-Founder and Chairman of Glyn-Valley based Trewithen Dairy has interviewed every Cornish applicant to the charity for over twenty years. There is only one exception; he did not interview his own son Francis Clarke in 2006. Francis Clarke, now managing director of Trewithen Dairy won the top award that year.
Bill said: “The fact that five of the winners since 2006 have all come from Cornwall is remarkable. The charity exists to encourage better education and training of those coming into the dairy industry. It doesn’t matter what background people have, we will help them to develop and grow. The candidates that have applied for the WCDA have come on in leaps and bounds. We saw a dip in numbers around the millennium but since then they have been really strong, which is fantastic for the industry.”
Bill continued: “I would like to make a passionate plea for more people to apply for a scholarship. We only ask that you are committed to the dairy industry and show aptitude to add value’ to the industry. Gaining skills and knowledge through study and training will be a vital part of surviving in the volatile future we now face. All sons and daughters of farmers or farm employees in the South West are eligible for their agricultural training and study related to dairy. Other industries are investing in training and dairy must not be left behind.”
Involved in farming from an early age, Georgina works alongside her husband and senior members of the family as an integral part of the management team of A Roberts and Sons. Farming has always fascinated her and working alongside forward thinking professionals in the industry inspired her to dream big and believe that anything is possible.
Georgina said that the award for her has been a long time in the making. A finalist in the competition twelve years ago, it was Bill Clarke who gave her an invaluable critique, “he was very truthful, not harsh but honest” she said. The feedback was taken constructively; she grew and worked on the points raised and, in between battling health issues and having two children, she returned determined to get recognition not only for what was learned but for the journey she had been on.
Georgina eloquently and passionately explained the challenges faced in modern day farming. She said: “More than just a case of producing food, we now have to be aware that from any positive reaction there will be a negative counteraction, whether that be in animal health, farming land efficiently while maintaining wildlife habitats, reducing the cost of production without affecting the business ability to move and adapt with the volatility of the market. We need to future proof ourselves and cope with the challenges that come our way.”
This year there have been times when she has sat at her kitchen table with her husband Simon and asked herself what would happen if they couldn’t make ends meet, would they be ready to leave farming? Georgina’s determined and resounding response to the challenges was simple; bring it on!’ To be in farming you have to be an optimist’ she says, life would be boring without challenges’.