Speakers from the south west are representing the region in large numbers at this year’s Women in Dairy conference.

The programme this year will be focussing on the theme of "Resilience and Emerging Opportunities", with a variety of speakers covering many areas of the industry.

Speakers from the region lined up for this year's programme include the following:

Gemma Smale-Rowland, fourth generation dairy farmer and business owner, Cornwall

Building her own dairy herd is something Gemma dreamt of from a young age. After much hard work and support from her family this is now a reality. In February 2019 she created a new business, Cornish Moo, an on-farm vending machine which not only allows the public to buy the highest quality milk but helps them engage with where their milk comes from. Despite the challenges facing the dairy industry Gemma continues to educate herself, push boundaries and constantly makes it her mission to connect, share and inspire others to change the perception of the sector for the next generation.

Despite her involvement with commercial farming Gemma still makes time to actively contribute to policy development and sits on a number of boards including the National Dairy Board and Red Tractor TAC Board. She has previously held roles on the Dairy Crest Forum Board and is a past Worshipful Company of Farmers Scholar and RABDF Entrepreneurs in Dairying graduate.

Alongside this Gemma actively drives farm safety campaigns such as #buckleupforiceman and organises meetings at her farm to provide local farmers a chance to address key issues with their local MP and farming organisations such as the NFU.

Beth Dooley, University of Exeter

Beth Dooley is a second-year PhD student at the University of Exeter, Centre for Rural Policy Research specialising in rural sociology. Her research explores the role of social learning amongst participants in farmer discussion groups and how it relates to their business decision making in the face of change. Previously, Beth worked on sustainable agricultural policy issues in the EU with Ecologic Institute, an environmental policy think tank in Berlin, Germany. She has also worked extensively on issues surrounding farm transition and succession planning with the International Farm Transition Network and the Beginning Farmer Center of Iowa State University Extension, USA.

Beth is a qualified lawyer in the State of Iowa, admitted to the bar in 2012, where she specialised in Food and Agricultural Law during her Juris Doctorate at Drake University Law School. She also completed a Master of Laws (LL.M.) at the University of Edinburgh in Global Environment and Climate Change Law. Originally from the Heartland of the US, her passion is all things to do with agriculture and the land, those who tend it, how our use impacts the environment as well as how it (e.g., through climate change) impacts our ability to produce food.

Di Wastenage, Women in Dairy Patron

Di Wastenage, ARAgS is a director of a family farming dairy business based in Devon and Cornwall. She is currently the vice chair of the RABDF, chair of the Dairy Antimicrobial Strategy Group and enjoys a role with Duchy and Bicton College working with the next generation coming into agriculture and the rural economy.

Di is passionate about the untapped potential of women in business and the skills, knowledge and experiences that we can bring to the industry for the future and its through opportunities including Women in Dairy that we can really showcase those attributes.

Dr Ailsa Milnes, Veterinary Adviser, Boehringer Ingelheim

Dr Ailsa Milnes from Somerset is a ruminant veterinary adviser for Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health and has had a versatile veterinary career. Ailsa spent time in practice before joining the Veterinary Laboratories Agency, which is now part of APHA, developing her skills in pathology, epidemiology and disease investigation. To satisfy her interest in epidemiology, she undertook a PhD at Bristol University before returning to VLA where she became more involved with disease surveillance. Ailsa then joined the pharmaceutical industry as an adviser in 2014. She firmly believes that prevention is better than cure and that good husbandry and care can go a long way to reducing disease.

This year’s Women in Dairy conference is taking place on Wednesday September 18 at Sixways Stadium, Worcester, WR3 8ZE.