How are the Awards judged?
The finalists are selected by an independent panel that includes an expert for that sector, last year’s winner and a member of the Farmers Weekly editorial team.
Three shortlisted finalists will be chosen from the entries for each category by this judging team.
Each of these finalists is visited by the category judging team during the summer.
The sponsor will also take part in the visits, as well as a photographer.
Meet the independent judges from our 2014 Awards:
Arable Farmer of the Year sponsored by British Sugar
Independent Judge: Peter Brumpton
Peter Brumpton is an independent agronomist running his own business as part of the Arable Alliance Group based in the east midlands.
He has been in the arable industry for the past 26 years, approaching 20 years as an agronomist within the independent sector previously with ADAS and The Arable Group.
He is involved at farm level on a daily basis giving advice on agronomic and business management issues on over 20,000 acres of arable and vegetable cropping. Peter sits on the Management Council of the AICC.
“This year’s winner of the Arable Farmer award should be a proven or improving performer in the arable sector with the ability to recognise and grasp opportunities within these challenging times.”
Beef Farmer of the Year sponsored by McDonalds
Independent Judge: Simon Marsh
Principal lecturer and beef cattle specialist at Harper Adams University
Simon Marsh is a principal lecturer and beef cattle specialist at Harper Adams University.
He delivers all of the teaching on beef production at Harper Adams as well as responsibility for the 100 head bull beef research unit, which is one of the few remaining beef production research institutes in the UK.
He has recently established a number of Harper Adams Beef Focus Farms which demonstrate best practice in suckled calf production. In addition to his work at Harper he is also a board director of the National Beef Association.
“I am looking for someone who has clearly identified the targets for efficient and profitable beef production and has exceeded them by adopting the science of beef production with focus on genetics, health and nutrition.”
Contractor of the Year sponsored by JCB
Independent Judge: Philip Wynn
Director of Wynn Business Partnership
Philip has spent his 40 year career managing and advising businesses in nearly every sector of agriculture.
He currently has direct responsibility for the management of 7,000 acres of primarily arable farming in Lincolnshire as well as providing financial and strategic advice to a wide range of family and corporate business particularly in the fresh produce sector.
He is a non-exec director of a number of large scale farming and related businesses and is chairman of two co-operatives. He recently took up the role of director of mentoring for the Henry Plumb Foundation.
“The winner will be a contractor whose prime focus is on the delivery of an outstanding service to his customers while at the same time recognising that he has to be profitable to enable re-investment in modern technology and improvements in efficiency.”
Dairy Farmer of the Year sponsored by DairyCo
Independent Judge: Ian Powell
Managing director, The Dairy Group
Ian is managing director of The Dairy Group which takes up about 30% of his time, which includes managing many of The Dairy Group’s business and technical support services, including the input buying groups, the operation of MCi (dairy costings), the dairy accounts benchmarking service and NVZ Manager service.
The majority of his time is providing specialist dairy consultancy to a wide variety of clients mainly across the south of England. Ian recently obtained a qualification in Dairy Lean Management which is becoming a major component of our dairy consultancy services.
“I am looking for a dairy farmer who has a clear strategy of where they are looking to take the business over the next 5 to 10 years. I would also expect to see a dairy farmer who knows their costs of milk production and how to manage these costs going forward. I would like to see how they are adding value to the business in terms of the resources they have available and how they are looking to add value and to manage risk.
“The UK dairy industry is moving to a post quota regime in less than 12 months and we are likely to see increased price volatility. I would like to see how the dairy business is preparing for this change in the market and what they are doing to build a robust dairy business.”
Diversification Farmer of the Year sponsored by Agri Bank
Independent Judge: Alan Spedding
Runs Farming Futures website and RuSource information service
I am “working retired” and run the Farming Futures website and the rural briefing papers service, RuSource.
I have science and art degrees and am a Fellow of the Royal Agricultural Societies. My previous career has been with the Royal Agricultural Society of England as a communicator and as a beef specialist with the Meat and Livestock Commission.
“I will be looking for innovative and profitable businesses which use all the assets of the farm they are based on.”
Farm Adviser of the Year
Independent Judge: Jake Freestone
Farm Manager at Overbury Farms
Jake currently manages the in-hand farming operations for Penelope Bossom trading as Overbury Farms on the Gloucestershire/Worcestershire border.
The farm totals 1560ha and comprises of arable crops and permanent grassland. The grass carries a flock of 1200 ewes. The farm hosts a very diverse Higher Level Stewardship scheme, started in January 2011.
Overbury farms joined Linking Environment And Farming (LEAF) in 2003. Jake has been a keen supporter of Open Farm Sunday since the first event in 2006.
In July 2007 the farm was awarded the LEAF Marque for lamb and the farm regularly carries out the LEAF Audit. Currently Jake sits on the Sainsbury’s Lamb Steering Group and is a steering member on the Molson Coors Growers Group.
In 2010 Jake was a runner-up in the Farmers Weekly Awards “Farm Manager of the Year” competition and in 2012 Jake was awarded a Nuffield Farming Scholarship, to study the possibilities of growing 20T/ha of wheat in the next 20 years.
Farm Employer of the Year sponsored by Safety Revolution
Independent Judge: Ennis Vingoe
Head of Human Resources at Harper Adams
Ennis joined Harper Adams as the Head of Human Resources in October 2010 and she manages a team supporting the full employment ‘life cycle’ including recruitment and resourcing; learning and development; performance management; organisation development; employee relations and employee engagement.
Her role is about about helping the University to make the most of its people and move the organisation forward.
Her earlier career paths have helped build up knowledge and experience as a line manager in a variety of roles.
After graduating with a BSc in geography and geology she completed officer training at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, spending 16 years in the Army, mainly in the Education Branch of the Adjutant General’s Corps based in Germany, the south of England and Northern Ireland.
She left the military in 2002 and spent several years in other HR posts.
Ennis holds an MA in Education from Bath University and is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, and the Institute of Leadership and Management. She is a qualified mediator.
“I will be looking for excellence in employment practices and employers who can demonstrate that they value their staff and the contribution they make to the farm business overall.”
Farm Manager of the Year sponsored by Claas
Independent Judge: David Gardner
Managing Director FAI Farms
David joined the Royal Agricultural Society of England as its chief executive in April 2012. His role is to take the Society back to its roots based upon ‘Practice with Science’.
Prior to joining the RASE David enjoyed a long career with The Co-operative Farms after studying at Seale Hayne. In 2010 he completed a Nuffield study on ‘New Science and Pioneer Technologies to transform UK agriculture’ which took him to leading research facilities in the USA, New Zealand, Australia and Japan. The study developed a particular interest in genetics and automation.
David will be looking for inspirational leadership and a clear vision of where the business is going.
Farmworker of the Year sponsored by Isuzu
Independent Judge: Meurig Raymond
President of the National Farmers Union (NFU)
Meurig Raymond farms 3,400 acres in Pembrokeshire in partnership with his twin brother, eldest son and nephew.
The farm grows 2,200 acres of combinable crops and 300 acres of potatoes. There are 620 dairy cows, with 300 followers. The farm also has 600 head of beef cattle and around 2,500 store lambs, fattened during winter.
Meurig, born in 1952, was elected local branch Chairman of the NFU in 1979 and Pembrokeshire County Chairman in 1989. In 1992 he became the Welsh NFU Treasurer and served as the Pembrokeshire delegate on NFU Council between 1995 and 2004.
Meurig represented Wales on the Home Grown Cereals Authority between 1997 and 2004 and he served on the Council of Food from Britain between 1997and 2003. He became a Fellow of the Royal Agricultural Society in 2000 and was awarded an MBE in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours in January 2005 for his services to agriculture.
“I’m looking for a farm worker who has gone above and beyond the call of duty to deliver something extra to the farming business. Many farm workers will be delivering innovation every day of their lives; whether it’s increasing efficiencies through dedication, enthusiasm and sheer hard work.
“This award is a fantastic opportunity to give credit to those often unsung heroes who are so essential to so many farms.”
Local Food Farmer of the Year sponsored by Asda
Independent Judge: Sally Jackson
Pig chicken and sheep farmer and Chair of FARMA
Sally Jackson runs a free range pig unit, has 600 egg laying hens and free range lamb all ‘grown’ for the farm shop and restaurant at the Pink Pig Farm. Sally is the current Chair of FARMA, a non-for-profit organisation helping farm shops and farmers markets to start-up, grow and thrive.
The Pink Pig Farm originated as a tressle table at the end of the drive and now incorporates a commercial kitchen making over 50 products for the shop and restaurant. They have recently opened a children’s play barn serving healthy food (and chips!).
“An enthusiastic outlook for the business and the local food sector is essential in the local Food award. The competition in foodie businesses is incredibly high and we are looking for both passion and incredible attention to detail.”
Pig Farmer of the Year sponsored by Karro
Independent Judge: Dr Zoe Davies
General Manager, National Pig Association
Dr Zoe Davies was appointed the National Pig Association’s (NPA) Regions Manager in 2008, following five years working with DEFRA where she managed the research and development portfolio on livestock production.
She is now the NPA’s general manager. Zoe managed a British Quality Pigs research farm and also undertook a Nuffield Scholarship last year looking at the movers and shakers in global pork production.
“This years’ winner will not only be running a fantastic business, but they need to be creative and driving forward innovations in productivity and welfare while also having a customer focus. It’s also vital that they demonstrate a passion for the industry and show they appreciate the importance of being part of the bigger picture of farming.”
Poultry Farmer of the Year sponsored by Aldi
Independent Judge: Jason Gittins
Senior Consultant, ADAS
Jason Gittins is a senior consultant with ADAS in the Sustainable Livestock Group. He works with a range of commercial companies including producers, integrated companies and at retail level.
He also works with UK Government departments and agencies, mainly dealing with the impacts of legislation and policy on the poultry sector. His main areas of input include animal welfare, pollution control, sustainability and product quality.
“The winner this year is likely to be someone who has developed a successful and sustainable business and who has plans in place to ensure future profitability. He or she should be seen as an example for others to follow and a positive role model for the UK poultry sector.”
Sheep Farmer of the Year sponsored by MSD Animal Health
Independent Judge: Dr Catherine Nakielny
Independent sheep consultant for KN Consulting
Catherine Nakielny has been involved in the sheep industry for over 15 years and after completing a PhD in sheep breeding in Aberystwyth, Catherine worked within the commercial sector for six years.
Five years ago she set up her own sheep consultancy business KN Consulting and now works with a number of clients, organisations and commercial companies.
Catherine grew up on an upland sheep farm in Carmarthenshire and continues to manage the unit in-conjunction with her parents.
In 2011, Catherine completed a Nuffield scholarship studying the role of efficiency improvements in reducing methane emissions from lamb production.
“I am looking for a producer who appreciates the needs of the market and consumer requirements. I want to see a clear understanding of the profit drivers for the business and the cost-benefit of various management and health actions. I would also like to see recognition for the role of collaboration in the future of the UK sheep industry.”
Sustainable Farmer of the Year, sponsored by Firestone
Independent Judge: Patrick Holden
Founding Director, Sustainable Food Trust
Patrick Holden grew up in London but was deeply influenced by a year he spent in California at the beginning of the 70s. He returned to the UK to study biodynamic agriculture and started a community dairy farm in West Wales in 1973.
It is now the longest established organic dairy farm in Wales, with a herd of 75 Ayrshire cows – the milk from which is made into an award winning cheddar-style cheese by his son, Sam.
Patrick is the founding director of the Sustainable Food Trust whose mission is to promote international cooperation between all those involved in sustainable food production – not just those who are certified organic.
Between 1995 and 2010, he was the director of the Soil Association and became a much sought after speaker and campaigner for organic food and farming. He spearheaded a number of prominent food campaigns around BSE, pesticide residues and GM food. More recently, he was a member of the UK Government’s working group on the Foresight Report into Future of Food and Farming and received a CBE for services to organic farming in 2005.
His other current positions include: Patron of the Bio-dynamic Agricultural Association, the Living Earth and the Soil Association Land Trust; Senior Environmental Advisor to JCB and International Ambassador of the Soil Association.
“The challenge of how farms can become more sustainable is an issue which should unite all food producers. Over the coming decade we need to adopt an inclusive approach to addressing the key challenges of producing high-quality food in an increasingly changeable environment.”
Young Farmer of the Year, sponsored by Tesco
Independent Judge: Mike Gooding
Managing Director, FAI Farms
Mike is a graduate of Seale Hayne Agricultural College and has followed a professional career in agricultural accountancy and finance; marketing and public relations.
He was instrumental in establishing Farmers First PLC where he worked in European livestock marketing, the abattoir sector and food processing with Aria Foods.
As Managing Director of FAI Farms he is responsible for the companies’ farming operations, client services and research and development projects, and is leading new initiatives in education and communications. He was also 2013 Chairman of The Oxford Farming Conference, is a member of the BBC Rural Affairs Committee and is Chairman of The Farm Inspiration Trust.
“This is such an exciting time to be farming and the future of humanity may well depend on farmers being able to produce food in a truly sustainable way.
“In this context I will be looking for young people who understand that opportunity, have clear vision as to what they are going to do to meet the challenge, who demonstrate a practical grasp of reality, and who have the skills and aptitude to engage with wider society. Young people with vision and the ability to deliver.”