House of Commons hosts premier farming awards

The 2015 Farm Business Food & Farming Industry Awards – the premier business awards for the UK, took place at the prestigious House of Commons on December 11th.

The Member’s Dining Room was the venue, more used to catering for MPs the room was turned into a Christmas party amidst the Pugin walls, with holly, Christmas lights, and even a few festive hats.

The winners this year really were star studded, some of our leading farm and food businesses were showcased for their drive and innovation, their exemplary business success.

Speaker Michael Crick enthralled with timely political anecdotes as the room lit up with delight.

The event was followed by the traditional walk over Westminster Bridge to the After Awards Party at County Hall for some serious networking till dawn.

For more information contact the organisers Farm Business on 01892 861664 awards@ghpublishing.co.uk

The winners will feature in Farm Business

General photos from the event – click here

Award winner photos from the event – click here

Our sincerest thanks to our sponsors this year.

WINNERS

FARM BUSINESS OF THE YEAR sponsored by Firestone

Steve Hewitt, Marketing Director Firestone presenting

Winner: Worth Farms – Spalding, Lincs

A fourth generation family farming business, Worth Farms operate on over 2000ha of grade 1 silt land growing Potatoes, Wheat, Sugar Beet, Vining Peas, Mustard and Energy crops. Land let out for speciality salad crops for JEPCO, and a joint venture vegetable growing operation with sister company QV Foods.

Investment in water infrastructure and rotation is key to Worth Farms success. They have traditionally operated on a six year rotation and are now moving to eight years to preserve the soils productivity and improve quality.

“We strongly believe that our commitment to innovation, the environment, collaboration and people is at the leading edge within the agricultural industry.” And so the judges agreed, Worth Farms scale of success is phenomenal, and in achieving that scale developing a highly sophisticated diverse sustainable business is one to emulate.

Highly Commended: TTraditional Norfolk Poultry – Shropham, Norfolk

Traditional Norfolk Poultry are slowly grown so that their muscles fully develop, which results in a full-flavoured, succulent breast meat and dense rich dark meat say the company. TNP now supplies 3 of the major 4 retailers, along with smaller retailers and two well-known restaurant chains and are the number 1 grower and processor of free range, speciality poultry, in the UK, employing a team of almost 200 people with the appetite, willingness and determination to grow, say the company. The judges applauded their business drive and determination to dominate their market niche, the company say most of the Christmas turkeys you will advertised see on TV this season will be supplied by them, and not bad from a start of just 12 turkeys back in 1988.

PROGRESSIVE FARMER OF THE YEAR sponsored by Agrovista UK

Nick Rainsley, Head of Marketing at Agrovista presenting

Winner: New Forest Fruit – Brockenhurst, Hants

The judges noted exceptional yields at New Forest Fruit, and applauded their use of technology to extend growing seasons, the way they have worked closely with suppliers to develop inputs to help the business, always looking for new opportunities.

A LEAF Demo farm with minimal environmental impact the business has fantastic approach to staff training and retention.

Highly Commended: Flawborough Farms – Nottingham

Farming 1860 hectares, this progressive farm has worked hard to employ technology to give it the edge it needed.

Introducing a bio-bed for spray washings, reducing risk of WW & OSR by growing rye and maize for AD, collecting and utilising precision farming data.

The business opens its doors to the public with tours and school open days to showcase its success.

NITRAM AWARD sponsored by CF Fertilisers

Clive Deeley, Advice Manager CF Fertilisers presenting

Winner: Stowell Farms – Marlborough, Wiltshire

Gavin, is passionate about the benefits of mixed farming. In the past 12 months he has reduced milk production costs by 4ppl – and says these have to drop further to ensure his dairy unit is ‘safe’ with the lower returns currently being seen. West Stowell Farm stood out as a farm with an ambitious, positive and professional outlook on dairy farming. An AD plant installed in 2012 is exceeding expectations, a rainwater harvesting network has been installed, and Gavin is very conscious about how working within the HLS scheme benefits the public perception of farming.

Highly Commended: Radstone Estate Partnership – Brackley, Northants

Murray‘s 406 arable hectares are predominantly heavy clay, making nutritional management planning even more important for crop success. Soils are regularly tested, ditches carefully maintained, a mole plough used every four years to improve structure and drainage. Rubber tracks used where necessary to reduce the effect on soils. Looking ahead he is planning to increase farm sustainability with solar and a straw power plant using straw to create additional energy.

AGRONOMIST OF THE YEAR sponsored by DuPont (UK)

Georgina Clayton, Senior Registration Representative at DuPont (UK) presenting

Winner: Andy Hill, Matford Arable Systems – Exeter

Andrew displayed a high-level of knowledge of all integrated farm management and crop protection factors affecting his customers businesses. He was passionate about adding extra value and was keen to go the extra mile to achieve maximum potential. Andrew is technically focussed, proactive and professional and eager to share his knowledge to new recruits to the industry. A very worthy winner.

Highly Commended: Simon Vaux, Agrovista UK – Stapleford

Simon is an enthusiastic advocate of crop protection. He embraced innovative and forward thinking farming practices to help protect their investments and manage risk. He is also responsible for mentoring many trainees, providing talented agronomists for the future. A true ambassador for the crop protection industry.

OUTSTANDING CONTRIBUTION TO FARMING AWARD

Sponsored by Warners Law LLP

Philip Raggett, Partner, Warners presenting

Winner: Ian Pigott, JW Pigott – Harpenden, Herts

Ian farms around 1700acres at Thrales Farm. He was the founder of Open Farm Sunday, and many other initiatives acting as pioneer and spokesperson for the farming industry at every opportunity.

He is currently pioneering a zero-tillage trial across his farm working with Rothamsted as he looks identify more sustainable growing plans for UK farming.

But it is his farm school project that the judges noted this year, more than 3200 school children from disadvantage areas, inner cities and local schools have experienced the Farmschool program in the last 12 months. A programme set up by Ian to help reconnect the general public and in particular young people with food and farming.

FAMILY BUSINESS OF THE YEAR sponsored by Mole Valley Farmers

Graeme Cock, Chairman Mole Valley Farmers presenting

Winner: Cotteswold Dairy – Tewkesbury, Gloucs

Cotteswold Dairy is a family-run business that has supplied British farmed and produced milk and dairy since 1938. Seventy-seven years after Harry Workman borrowed money off his mother to buy a milk round, his descendants are now running a hugely successful dairy that employs over 300 people…and Harry is still around to witness it.

George Workman is now at the helm, and two of George’s sisters are also involved in the company. At the Dairy an average of 200,000 litres of Ordinary, Organic, Welsh and Channel Island Milk is produced on a daily basis and 55,000 litres of cream per week. A phenomenal family business we wish them the best for the next seventy seven years!

Highly Commended: St Ewe Free Range Eggs – Truro, Cronwall

Starting out with 1,500 hens and today farming 64,000 birds in Cornwall.
Boost the Roost is the selenium-enriched brand, soon to be the UK’s first egg to be both natural selenium and DHA Omega-3 enriched. Hen Picked is a brand for the price-conscious consumer who can buy mixed weight eggs that include pullets eggs, which don’t make the size grade for standard egg packs. Some innovative ideas that have been made a reality by this high performing family team.

CHAMPION SUSTAINABLE FARM PRACTICES sponsored by NSF Agriculture

Matt Sheehan, Director Service Development & Sustainability presenting

Highly Commended: Andrew Stewart, TC Stewart & Son – Lesmahagow, Lanark

My plan and passion says Andrew Stewart has always been to build up a large-scale dairy enterprise, whilst being environmentally friendly, creating a good core business, with a very good diversified project on the farm. I want the business to be a fun place to work, provide employment opportunities and play a major role in the local community. The judges applauded Andrew for his drive to push the boundaries of the dairy business looking to the future and a more sustainable business for the next generation.

Winner: Nicholas Watts, Vine House Farm- Spalding, Lincs

With crops ranging from wheat, potatoes, peas, and a whole range of bird seeds, plus livestock including 24,000 free range laying hen, Nicholas is an outstanding champion of sustainable farm practices.

Vigorous in his quest to conserve wildlife led to a business marketing bird seed, and in the process, through extensive bird surveys across his and other farms, Nicholas has adapted his farm practices based on his findings. He also proclaims that the farm wastes nothing, everything used or sold. Vine House Farm’s customer base is a varied one too, with clients from McCains to Waitrose and mail order customers.

NSF Farm Assurance Champion of Champions Award

Tim Green Head of Agriculture at NSF presenting

NSF have awarded a series of farm assurance accolades this year and out of their winners they have chosen an over all Champion of Champions, the winner is . . .

Winner: APS Salads – Cheshire

APS Salads have taken the best from traditional and modern growing techniques to grow high quality fruit in the most environmentally aware and sustainable way possible, whilst continuing to maintain super compliance and a positive attitude.

RURAL ENTERPRISE AWARD sponsored by Strutt & Parker

David Canty, Farming Consultant with Strutt & Parker presenting

Winner: Knitsley Farmshop – County Durham

Judges were impressed with the way the business has developed in such a way that everything that is produced on the farm is sold through the farm shop and restaurant.

It makes for a strong and sustainable diverse business, producing, processing, adding value, marketing and delivering great customer care through a dedicated team.

Knitsley provides 24 full time jobs and 23 part time jobs, and acts as a central ‘hub’ where people can shop, meet and enjoy the atmosphere.
With an ethos of Local, Seasonal and Traditional Knitsley farmshop are a success both now and can see a sustainable future.

Highly Commended: Blackacre Farm Eggs – Templecombe, Somerset

Blackacre Farm Eggs has a strong presence in independent retailers, farm shops and local supermarkets in the South West, with well designed brand identities for their products. Earlier this year sales increased over 10%, and sales of duck eggs have doubled year on year. Blackacre have invested in establishing their own breeder flock for ducks, and are also investing in growth of their free range quail flock and other speciality breeds. Tireless innovators with an entrepreneurial spirit, the judges praised them highly this year.

FOOD CHAIN MARKETING AWARD sponsored by Merial Animal Health

Findlay MacBean, Head of Large Animal Business at Merial Animal Health, presenting

WINNER Marketing Initiative: OMSCO, Somerset

Organic dairy co-operative OMSCo has 250 farmer members stretching across the UK, with a turnover of £100 million. Today the business manages over 250 million litres of organic milk, which accounts for 66% of the total organic milk supply in the UK.

OMSCo is the only European dairy company able to sell dairy products in the US that are certified organic by the USDA, building a long-term relationship with Organic Valley, the world’s largest organic co-operative. This typifies OMSCo’s approach to market development both domestically and globally; building strategic partnerships with leading processors and customers who share similar values. They have utilised the strengths of these partners to build sustainable and profitable joint market opportunities. This year export markets will account for 1/5 of the co-operative’s turnover, up 40% on last year.

WINNER Brand Marketing Mackie’s – Aberdeenshire

Mackie’s today is a well known brand. And as the judges concluded this is no mean feat today for a farm business to build a nationally-recognised brand, and to sustain that and build on that creating successful brand extensions. Competition is fierce, the mantra of the late chairman Maitland Mackie was ‘No Change, No Chance’ and they have successfully diversified from their farming background.

A pioneering family business they have diversified into making ice-cream, chocolate and crisps all under the ‘Mackie’s of Scotland’ brand.

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