NSF Awards recognise best certified farms

Thursday’s Generation Farm conference in Kettering saw the awards ceremony for the inauguaral NSF Assured Farmer of the Year Awards, developed by the certifier, who were one of the sponsors of Generation Farm, to recognise the excellence of the farms on which it works.

They were introduced by Matt Sheehan, the director of service development and sustainability at NSF International, with the awards being presented by NSF director of agriculture Tim Green.

“This is the first time these awards have been held,” explained Matt Sheehan. “It is an initiative we thought about earlier in the year as a way of recognising the many excellent farms that we, NSF, are fortunate enough to be associated with. We audit and certify some 25,000 farms across the UK and against many schemes.”

“We know that many of those farms are truly outstanding businesses,” he said. “So we felt it was right to highlight, to recognise and reward the excellent standards of management that many of these farms apply, the good they do for the industry and the contribution they make to British food production.”

“We focused on just for aspects of farming philosophy and practice – the approach to sustainability, to regeneration and the next generation, and to innovation – three things that are very future oriented – and then fourthly, given the nature of our business, the farm’s attitude to farm assurance, demonstrating how it can be used as a positive management tool to drive up production standards by providing customer reassurance about supply chain integrity and be an asset in developing new market opportunities.”

“There was an excellent response and a great spread of entries across all the categories,” he said. “This made the task of our judges a particularly difficult one. The quality of the entries was very high. The judges felt that it was a privilege to be involved in this process and to visit so many exceptional businesses.”

The winners were as follows:

NSF Assured Arable Farmer of the Year
Winner – G.W.Topham & Son, Cambridgeshire.
G.W Topham & Son farm in excess of 3500 ha of arable crops across Cambridgeshire and neighbouring counties, specialising in milling wheat, soft wheat, OSR, barley and peas. The judges were impressed by the enthusiasm of the management team and the way that assurance has become core to a business where ongoing investment in conscientious, modern and environmentally sensitive farming techniques has created a diverse and dynamic operation aimed at maximising potential from arable land.

NSF Assured Beef Farmer of the Year
Winner – RJ & RA Batchelor, Somerset.
The judges were impressed by this young couple who have taken on the family farm and diversified from diary into free range egg and now have 40 Longhorn cows that graze in the local forests of the Blackdown Hills AONB.
Both enterprises use farm assurance to help secure their market and to underpin business planning and development. All beef is direct marketed under the farm’s own Forest Beef brand with increasing sales through local outlets and London restaurants.

NSF Assured Chicken Farmer of the Year
Winner – Bernard Matthews, Norfolk.
Their entry from this large integrated poultry company centred around broiler production fieldsman Malcolm Purple. Having a lifetime of turkey production experience, Malcolm became involved in the broiler sector only two years ago. Malcolm has striven to ensure that the company gets the most out of its farm assurance and has intiated and driven an internal audit programme across the farms to ensure consistently high standards and has communicated these requirement to the supplying hatchery, farm, catching transport and factory teams.

NSF Assured Egg Farmer of the Year
Winner – LJ Fairburn and Son. Lincolnshire.
The judges were impressed with the drive and determination shown in developing the business and the way that the company viewed farm assurance as a business asset not just as a multiple retailer requirement. The stated aim is to be able to be inspected at any time, announced or unnanounced, and achieve full compliance with all assurance standards.

NSF Assured Pig Farmer of the Year
Winner – JMW Farms Ltd. N. Ireland.
The judges were impressed with the drive and enthusiasm shown as the company expanded from a very small base in 1989 and it’s aim to become the leader in pig farming and renewable energy in Ireland and the UK. There is a strong belief in promoting quality assurance right across all aspects of the owned business and amongst contract growers. JMW demonstrates that quality assurance is a vital tool in any business and believes that “It improves standards, focuses minds, and can make businesses more efficient when used properly”.

NSF Assured Sheep Farm of the Year
Winner – PS, PJ & IJ Clayton Sanders, Derby.
The winners have a flock of 330 ewes, finish as many lambs as possbile off grass and sell both through markets and deadweight. The judges were impressed with the straightforward commercial approach shown and the use of farm assurance as a way of attracting as many buyers as possible. The secondary benefits of assurance inlcuding the independent external assesment of the enterprise and improved readiness for EU cross compliance inspections were also valued.

NSF Assured Fresh Produce Farmer of the Year
Winner – APS Salads, Cheshire.
HAPS Salads have over 100 ha of tomatoes under glass across Cheshire, Kent and the Isle of Wight taking the best from traditional and modern growing techniques to grow high quality fruit in the most environmentally aware and sustainable way possible. Whether Red Tractor, Tesco Nurture or LEAF, the aim is for super compliance and the company uses this to demonstrate an Industry leading position. The positive attitude of managers and staff has seen all sites achieve Tesco Nurture gold status along with full compliance to all other audits.

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