Dairy farmer Karen Halton from Cheshire has scooped this year’s prestigious Dairy Industry Woman of the Year award at the virtual Women in Dairy (WID) conference held today (30 September).
Karen is the fourth winner of the award, sponsored by HSBC UK, beating off stiff competition from two other finalists: Abi Reader from Glamorganshire, and Hannah Lawrence from Haverfordwest.
The award aims to celebrate the achievements of women in the dairy sector and is presented to the individual who has demonstrated the core values of Women in Dairy of connect, share, and inspire.
Karen is a partner in Halton Farms with her husband Tom. Together they rent 550 acres in Congleton and milk their 530 three-way cross all-year-round calving herd three times a day. They also have a raw milk vending machine and, just this year, decided to expand the operation by pasteurising milk and selling it directly to customers.
Starting out in legal recruitment Karen joined Tom dairy farming 11 years ago and, in that time, has been passionate about showcasing dairy farming. She is not afraid to share her learnings- good and bad, and as an AHDB strategic farm Halton Farms has regularly opened their doors to those within the industry as well as outside.
Karen was chosen as the winner as she is a great all-round industry ambassador giving a lot to the sector.
Award judge and WID Patron Di Wastenage said: “Karen is a passionate advocate for British farming who is an effective communicator at all levels and enjoys mentoring the next generation.
“She is an early adopter who brings new skills into our Industry and is happy to challenge, question, and lead change.
“This year’s competition was the hardest one to judge yet and when you have this calibre of entrants in one competition, we know the future of our dairy industry is in good hands,” added Mrs Wastenage.
The judges which consisted of Mrs Wastenage; HSBC UK’s regional agriculture director Grace O’Dwyer, and Rachel Bowcutt, RABDF operations and project manager, said all three shortlisted candidates are exceptional ambassadors.
Ms O’Dwyer said: “All the candidates demonstrated fantastic commitment to their businesses making them as strong as they could be. In addition, the obvious drive to support the wider farming and rural community came across loud and clear.
“HSBC UK Agriculture has had a long association with the event, which we believe demonstrates our commitment to the sector. It is a positive activity to be recognising individuals who push themselves and their businesses to achieve as well as be spokespeople for the dairy sector in our wider communities,” Ms O’Dwyer said.
This year’s Women in Dairy virtual conference attracted 100 delegates and included sessions on the state of the dairy market, sustainability, animal health, and marketing.