Award-winning Devon dairy farmer Di Wastenage has become the first female Chairman of the Royal Association of British Dairy Farmers (RABDF), succeeding Somerset farmer Peter Alvis.
At the March RABDF Chairman’s Committee, Mrs Wastenage, previously RABDF’s Vice Chairman, started her three-year tenure.
Mrs Wastenage is a director of her family’s dairy farming business in Budleigh Salterton, Devon, and along with her husband Peter, was awarded Dairy Farmer and Farmers Weekly, Farmer of the Year in 2015. She also received an MBE in the Queen’s 2021 New Year’s Honours for her services to UK Agriculture.
In her role as Vice Chairman at RABDF, she has contributed to a wide range of topics, including the environment, animal health and welfare, and encouraging young entrepreneurs and new entrants into agriculture.
She is an ambassador for women in farming. Through her role as Patron of Women in Dairy, she showcases the importance of female roles and the exciting opportunities for women in the sector.
Commenting on her role, Mrs Wastenage said: “I’m delighted to be RABDF Chairman and am thankful to Peter for handing over the Chairmanship to me in such a great position. Peter has done a sterling job over the last three year’s having been instrumental during one of the most challenging times in the sector with Brexit, the pandemic and the phasing out of the Basic Payment Schemes.
“Peter’s work in setting up the milk losses survey during the pandemic was instrumental in leading to the Government’s Dairy Response Fund. His current work developing an emissions toolkit for farmers will also have a lasting legacy.”
Commenting on her plans during the tenure, Mrs Wastenage added: “Over the next three years, we are going to see some significant changes in the dairy sector with the phasing out of basic payments, the arrival of the Environmental Land Management Scheme (ELMs) and possible regulations coming from the Clean Air Strategy, including the permitting of intensive beef and dairy farms. So, it’s going to be vital to communicate with the government and the wider industry every step of the way to ensure we end up with practical measures that are not detrimental to the industry.
“Labour also remains a big issue and is something I will continue to focus on,” she said.
Peter will continue to be involved in the Chairman’s Committee. Cumbria dairy farmer Robert Craig takes over as Vice Chairman with a successor for his position expected to take place at the Association’s AGM in the autumn.