A student from Harper Adams University has beaten off five other finalists and one of the highest number of entries to win this year's RABDF Dairy Student of the Year Award, sponsored by Mole Valley Farmers.
Agriculture with Farm Business Management student Max Mitchell from Shrewsbury, Shropshire, won the award after going through a rigorous application process. This included writing a 1,500-word essay on a case study prepared by Kite Consulting and delivering a presentation to a panel of judges at the Farmers' Club in London.
The winner was announced at Dairy-Tech, where Max was presented with a cheque for £750 and a trophy. He also won a six-month paid placement with award sponsor Mole Valley Farmers. Runner-up was third-year Agriculture student Matthew McClymont from Myerscough College.
This is the second year in a row a student from Harper Adams University has won the award, with last year's student being Katie Ackland from Devon.
The competition run by the Royal Association of British Dairy Farmers is designed to reflect real-life challenges seen on dairy farms and wider policy issues as well as identifying some of the sector's rising stars and new entrants.
This year's judging panel consisted of RABDF vice-chairs Di Wastenage and Robert Craig, Mole Valley Farmers' James Hague and Chloe Cross from Kite Consulting.
Commenting on the winner, Mr Craig said: "The competition produced a very high calibre of entries making for a difficult final choice. Max Mitchell from Harper Adams displayed an excellent understanding of the UK and the wider global dairy industry. He was very well prepared for his presentation in the final, where he confidently demonstrated his knowledge, answering the judges' questions clearly with well-researched reasoning and observations."
Mr Hague, Head of Agriculture at Mole Valley Farmers, added: "Mole Valley Farmers is delighted to sponsor the Dairy Student of the Year award and our congratulations go to both Matthew and Max. They delivered excellent presentations with a clear understanding of the challenges and complexities facing the industry and, importantly, the many opportunities that also present themselves.
"All of the finalists demonstrated we have students of the highest calibre entering the industry, which is really encouraging.
"We are now looking forward to Max joining us on his placement and Mole Valley Farmers and the RABDF will continue to work together to encourage, develop and promote young people who can work to deliver innovative and practical solutions to the challenges of modern dairy farming."
RABDF is the sole UK charity focussed on the unique needs of milk producers. They are the only dairy organisation holding a Royal Warrant.