The UK’s thriving farming industry was highlighted on a fantastic night in the House of Commons for the Food & Farming Industry Awards organised by Farm Business magazine.
Yorkshire-based business M H Poskitt won the night’s top accolade and was named Farm Business of the Year
M H Poskitt is a family farming business which grows combinable crops, potatoes, carrots, parsnips, swede, pumpkins, sugar beet, maize and grass.
Guy Poskitt is the managing director, who has taken the business from a 550-acre rented farm to a successful agri-business, farming over 7,800 acres of owned, share farmed and rented land.
The business now specialises in the growing of carrots, parsnips and pumpkins, which are packed on site for the supermarket, wholesale market and food service industries. The business maximises the use of riverbanks which are part of the holding by rearing a small number of store cattle.
Mr Poskitt said: “The company recently invested £2.3 million in camera grading technology in our packhouse, which has enabled greater crop utilisation, as the cameras are capable of grading in six different directions at once, ranging from top (or best) quality to worst quality, something which a human grade could not possibly achieve.
“While sales have grown in the last two years, we have reduced the area grown by 10 % as greater crop utilisation is achieved.”
Retailer of the Year
Elsewhere the other main winners included Co-Op as the Retailer of the Year, which works with almost 4,000 farmers and suppliers for all over the UK to source its meat, poultry, dairy and fresh produce.
Progressive Farmer of the Year
Paul Smith from Kent-based fruit farming business Bardsley England, collected the Progressive Farmer of the Year award for investments to map, aid and track efficiencies and compliance within the packing process.
Agronomist of the Year
The Agronomist of the Year went to David Stead of Yorkshire-based HL Hutchison, who was recognised for the advice he delivers on as many aspects of agronomy on-farm as the customer requires. He believes that the relationship between farmer and agronomist is what delivers on-farm success.
Outstanding Contribution to Farming
Professor Nigel Gibbens won the award for Outstanding Contribution to Farming for his 10-year stint as the UK’s chief veterinary officer. In that role, he was the Government’s chief advisor and spokesperson on animal health and welfare. Since retiring from Government service in February 2018, he is now a director of Itinerant Vets, where he provides independent consultancy on veterinary public health and disease control
Food Innovation of the Year
The Food Innovation of the Year award went to Arla Foods for Arla Goodness, which is lower in fat than semi-skimmed milk, but utilises naturally occurring milk protein to boost both the protein and calcium levels.
Farm Innovation of the Year
James Brown, from Yorkshire-based mixed organic farm PollyBell, won the Farm Innovation of the Year award for being behind agri-tech start-up Earth Rover, which has licensed technology from the Exo Mars Rover, as a platform for its autonomous farming vehicle. The business is also filing patents around a novel laser weeding product.
Farm Manager of the Year
Andrew Williams of Suffolk-based Home Farm Nacton, won the Farm Manager of the Year award. He is responsible for 1,950 hectares, of which 190 hectares are organic to Soli Association standards. As farm manager in the business, he has developed markets for crops produced early and late in season, many of which allow two crops to be produced in a year, which come with a premium price over main crop production.
Young Farmer of the Year
The Young Farmer of the Year award went to Abi Reader, a 38-year old, a third-generation dairy herd manager from South Glamorgan, a few miles north of Cardiff in South Wales. She is a partner in the business, which has 220 cows, all year-round calving and an 8,000-litre herd average.
Animal Health Advisor of the Year
At this year’s Food & Farming Industry Awards, Andrew Davies of Synergy Farm Health was named Animal Health Advisor of the Year. He is managing director of Dorset-based Synergy Farm Health and a farm animal veterinary surgeon with particular interests in young stock and calf rearing systems; antimicrobial resistance and responsible use of medicines; and infectious disease control and surveillance.