The Royal Association of British Dairy Farmers (RABDF)

The Royal Association of British Dairy Farmers (RABDF)

RABDF is the sole UK charity focused on the unique needs of milk producers. We are the only national dairy membership association with the freedom and capacity to lobby. We have unique relationships up and down our whole supply chain, giving us far reaching impact. And we are the only dairy organisation holding a Royal Warrant, with the influence and access to funding that brings. Times have changed and like our members, we have been forced to take a long, hard look at our activities. This has meant a switch to areas where we can offer genuine and sustained value - on our own or with others. We believe these changes offer exceptional value to RABDF members. We hope you agree.

Company details

Dairy House, Unit 31, Abbey Park , Stareton , Kenilworth CV8 2LY United Kingdom
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Business Type:
Professional association
Industry Type:
Market Focus:
Nationally (across the country)
Year Founded:

RABDF will now focus on four areas and all future activity will fall within this framework:

  • Influencing and lobbying
  • Developing young talent
  • Improving business resilience
  • Identifying and showcasing ground-breaking innovation
  • We know that having your voice heard is sometimes the most important priority.

We will influence and lobby government and policymakers through our joint secretariat of the Dairy All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) with Dairy UK, our Royal associations, our new Policy Conference held in association with The Trehane Trust, and our extensive reach into the dairy supply chain.

We will not only encourage and develop the next generation of professional dairy entrepreneurs, but will draw in fresh talent with new ideas from outside the sector.

2017/18 will see the launch of the Young RABDF Board, which will develop specific offers for dairy industry professionals age 16 to 27.

Our annual agricultural and vet student awards will continue, and we will work with the National Land Based College, to evolve our dairy-specific education packages for school leavers and entrepreneurs.

A profitable sector needs constructive, collaborative support and membership organisations that work together to deliver efficiency, increase access to resources and improve reputation.

We organise a range of technical on-farm events with a difference. These are held in conjunction with selected partners such as AHDB and will be evolved to drill down further into the crucial areas affecting profitability.

Our highly successful Women in Dairy initiative, managed alongside Promar and AHDB, will continue with a growing number of regional groups and the annual Conference each September.

New ideas should not just come from other farmers or dairy sectors in other countries; they should come from completely different industries.

The brand new mind-expanding one day Dairy-Tech event held in February at Stoneleigh will be a concept the dairy industry has not experienced before. It will focus on the science and technology of dairy farming, and the cutting edge tools to support a wide range of systems.

  • RABDF was founded in 1876 as an independent organization dedicated to the interests of dairy farmers, the improvement of dairy stock, dairy produce and the dairy industry of the UK and the establishment of the Dairy Show.  Initially membership was concentrated in the South of England and included dairy farmers, vets, consultants, herd managers and members of the supply trade.
  • RABDF was registered as a charity at a very early stage and was appropriately based at offices in London, where the Dairy Show was held for almost 100 years at Olympia.  As well as dairy cattle classes, there were additional classes for pigs, goats and chickens.  The Dairy Show was also renowned for the five day Economic Milking Trials, which helped to establish the value of milk quality in terms of butterfat and protein content.  The Dairy Show was later organised jointly by RABDF and MMB as equal partners, for which arrangement we were greatly indebted to Sir Richard Trehane, Chairman of MMB.  This continued until the dissolution of the MMB in 1994.  At this stage we also had strong links with the Commonwealth via RASC, particularly in the days when Frank Francis was CEO to both RABDF and RASC.
  • Our charitable status was maintained by our involvement in agricultural education; for example we took responsibility for the dairy qualification of the NDD (National Diploma in Dairying) courses, which were run at several Agricultural Colleges. 
  • After leaving Olympia in 1974, the Dairy Show was held for one year at Stoneleigh, then the next year at the Great Yorkshire Showground, finally moving back to Stoneleigh in 1977 thanks to the support of RASE.  At all stages of our history we have worked tirelessly with the Dairy Breed Societies to achieve improvements in standards at all levels and the continued success of the Dairy Show owes much to their substantial contributions. 
  • In 1983 our CEO Frank Francis retired and was replaced by Philip Gilbert. The drive for membership became paramount and a strategic review was carried out. This resulted in the move to Leamington Spa in 1993 which speeded up the modernisation of office procedures and administration, which had already begun in London, to make more rapid progress.  Policymaking and implementation were streamlined by the reduction of Council from 66 to 20 members and by the establishment of a number of sub-committees that reported back to Council.  Nick Everington took over as CEO in 2002.
  • In 1990 the Annual Conference at Malvern was established and at this time the number of Open Days and Farm Walks was increased, as was the frequency of Newsletters intended to keep members informed of developments within RABDF.
  • Our charitable work linked to agricultural education was strengthened by the introduction of the 'Young Dairy Student of the Year' Award in 1994 and by the introduction of a 'College Lecturers' Day' to help the colleges to remain at the forefront of dairy developments.  In our continued pursuit of excellence, 'The Princess Royal Award' and 'The Prince Philip Award' were later established and the Director Training Programme was started in conjunction with the Plunkett Foundation.
  • Throughout the years the RABDF has acted in the best interests of Dairy Farmers in responding to government consultations and enquiries, as well as working closely with MDC, Dairy Council, and NFU on the costs of milk production and with Dairy UK.
  • 2017 brought a change in direction as the charity reviewed all its activities. A brand new event was launched - Dairy-Tech which will take place for the first time at Stoneleigh Park, Warwickshire in February 2018.