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 judges:
Meet the first confirmed judges – over the coming weeks the full list will be announced here.
Partner, Strutt and Parker
Judging category: Arable Farmer of the Year
Jock Willmott works for Strutt and Parker’s farming department where he manages 1,600ha of farmland, provides strategic and comprehensive crop management for clients in East Anglia and purchases fleets of farm machinery for clients across the business. He is also the firm’s technical agronomy lead and is involved in their Arable Farm Benchmarking service.
“While the weather may have affected most farms with crops not looking at their best, I will be judging a business on its structure, organisation, profitability and strategies to solve future challenges.”
Senior Lecturer, Harper Adams University College
Judging category: Beef Farmer of the Year
Simon comes from a north-east Lancashire dairy, beef and sheep farming family. He worked as a beef cattle specialist with ADAS for 6 years and for Rumenco as a technical manager for 12 years. In 1999 he became a senior lecturer at Harper Adams, specialising in beef cattle, where he is responsible for all beef production teaching, as well as research on the University’s 100-head bull beef unit.
“I will be looking for a beef producer who is focused on efficient production and putting science into practice with a system that is both sustainable but more importantly profitable. This may be a beef producer with either sucklers or dairy-bred beef cattle, with either continentals or native breeds on either an intensive or extensive system.”
Director, Wynn Business Partnerships Ltd
Judging category: Contractor of the Year
Philip Wynn formed Aubourn Farming in 1986, which was developed into a national rural consultancy business. He was later appointed head of agribusiness for Savills before leaving to initiate Wynn Business Partnerships in 2006. Today he has responsibility for the management of 8,000 acres and provides strategic and financial advice to a wide range of corporate and family businesses.
“I will be seeking to find the contractor who continually delights his farming clients through his efficient and cost effective delivery. This top rate service will need to be carefully linked to the profitability of his own business and his ability to reinvest in both efficiency and new technology to ensure the operation is sustainable for the long term.”
Chairman, Natural England
Judging category: Countryside Farmer of the Year
Poul has been chairman of Natural England since December 2009 and was a joint founder of the Tenant Farmers Association, as well as a previous chairman of Milk Marque.
He is a director of a successful family dairy farming business at Kingston Hill Farm in Oxfordshire and has a long track record of integrating conservation with the demands of modern farming.
“I firmly believe that we can’t separate food and environment and I want to see farmers who have put the days of ‘production first, environmental protection second’ behind them. We need both. I will be looking for farmers who are bringing top quality products to market while protecting the environment.”
Chairman, Dairy Pro
Judging category: Dairy Farmer of the Year
David Cotton is a fourth generation dairy farmer in central Somerset where he farms a herd of 160 cows on 600 acres. The farm has diversified and boasts office accommodation, a small campsite and is currently looking into developing more office space and renewable energy.
In addition to being chairman of Dairy Pro, David will become the board director in April. He is also an RABDF council member.
“We are looking for a progressive dairy farmer who has a long-term plan, excellent attention to detail, makes the best use of resources and plays a part in the community.”
Freelance rural consultant
Judging category: Diversification Farmer of the Year
Alan Spedding spent the majority of his career as a beef production specialist and as a communicator with RASE. He now runs RuSource – a free weekly email for rural professionals and is a project manager for Farming Futures which informs farmers and their advisers about strategies to cope with climate change. He is also editor of the RASE Journal.
“Size doesn’t matter – it can be a large or a small business. I will be looking for originality, the use of science, business and marketing skills and collaborative activity. But above all, great products.”
RASE Chief Executive
Judging category: Farm Adviser of the Year
David Gardner was appointed chief executive of Royal Agricultural Society of England (RASE) earlier this year. He began his farming career with the Co-operative Farms as a management trainee in 1981 and managed the Co-op’s Stoughton farming estate throughout the 1990s. He joined the senior management team in 2001 and took over the organisation’s fruit operation in 2008.
“I am looking for someone delivering value, strategic vision and innovation for their farming clients. The winner will be someone who can apply their in-depth knowledge to the challenges and aspirations of their farming clients; someone who is improving the business sustainability and opportunities of farm businesses.”
Professor of Agricultural Management and Economics, Nottingham University
Judging category: Farm Manager of the Year
Originally from a farming background in Cumbria’s Eden Valley, Paul Wilson is Associate Professor of Agricultural Management and Economics, and Director of the University of Nottingham’s Rural Business Research Unit. Dr Wilson is also chief executive officer of Rural Business Research, leading the highly respected Farm Business Survey research programme for England.
“The winner will be managing and advancing a profitable business, incorporating excellence in production, finance and marketing alongside key attributes in people management. Current and future environmental sustainability thinking will be matched by passion and dedication. In short, the winner will demonstrate excellence across four “Ps – profit, people, planet and passion.”
Deputy President, NFU
Judging category: Farmworker of the Year
Meurig Raymond and his brother grow combinable crops and potatoes, rear 620 dairy cows, 600 head of beef cattle and about 2,500 store lambs in Pembrokeshire.
The farm grows 2,000 acres of combinable crops and 270 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.
“I am looking for a person who is totally dedicated to the farming business, shows great enthusiasm in their work and has the desire to innovate and improve farm performance.”
Managing Director, Farm Energy Centre
Judging category: Green Energy Farmer of the Year
Andrew Kneeshaw is managing a director at the Farm Energy Centre, involved in running the NFU Farm Energy Service and Climate Change Agreements for pigs, poultry and horticulture.
Andrew originates from East Yorkshire. His father was a butcher-turned-agricultural supply rep.
He attended the University of Bradford to study Electrical and Electronic Engineering and started his career working for the Yorkshire Electricity Board.
“A recent text on energy said that the most valuable unit of energy for the environment is the one you never use. So, as well as good renewables generation, I’ll be looking for frugal and well-planned energy use.”
Managing Director, Lloyds Europa; Managing Agent, FARMA
Judging category: Local Food Farmer of the Year
Gareth’s background is in food and drink brand development. He comes from a farming family in west Wales and fell in love with idea of local foods as far back as 1992. Since then he has worked with many farms to support their direct sales to the public.
He created and continues to support the FARMA Local Foods Awards and is currently developing Retail Netwerks UK – a one-stop shop for supporting farmers who want to diversify.
“Great local food comes from farmers who are able to strike a balance between the need to really make their customer’s day, have a distinctive range of primary and added-value products coming from the farm and have a business that has legs commercially. This needs vision, planning and detail at all levels, and of course great tasting foods.”
DR ZOE DAVIES
General Manager, National Pig Association
Judging category: Pig Farmer of the Year
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.”
Senior Consultant, ADAS
Judging category: Poultry Farmer of the Year
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.”
DR LIZ GENEVER
EBLEX livestock scientist
Judging category: Sheep Farmer of the Year
Liz Genever has been a beef and sheep scientist with EBLEX since October 2005. Having come from a mixed farm in South Lincolnshire, Dr Genever went on to study Animal Science before gaining a PhD in Farm Animal Behaviour and Welfare from Cambridge University. She is involved in around 50 on-farm events a year, mainly covering improved grazing management.
“I am looking for a farmer who has clear understanding of their profit drivers, and will be interested to see how this has changed how they manage their sheep. I want to see good grazing management, plus their long term strategy to ensure the right type of feed is available. I would like to see a farmer with good attention to detail, such as an active health plan or using EID to make better management decisions.”
DR DAVID LLEWELLYN
Vice-chancellor, Harper Adams University
Judging category: Young Farmer of the Year
David Llewellyn first joined Harpers Adams in 1998 and since then has been prolific in pushing skills development for young people in agriculture up the industry agenda. In 2009 he served as a member of the BBSRC Working Group on Skills and Capacity in the Agri-Food Sector and is currently a trustee for Lantra, a board member for Landex and a board member of the Leadership Foundation in Higher Education.
“I’ll be looking for someone who has strong technical ability and who is not afraid to try out new ideas. They will also have to have a firm grasp of the business principles required to make their farm business a success.”