Winning a Farmers Weekly award can lead to increased business success, heightened media coverage and better staff morale- that’s the message from Colin McKee, last year’s Farmers Weekly Local Food Farmer of the Year.

Mr McKee, a beef and chicken farmer in Newtownards, Northern Ireland, won the title at last year’s Farmers Weekly Awards night after impressing the judges with his farm shop and restaurant.

“It’s definitely helped our business,” says Mr McKee. The award has “increased demand in every way” from customers in the farm shop and restaurant, as well as in the beef and chicken enterprise.

“When people come in to do business with us, they see our award as a sign of quality- you can’t really put a price on that.”

The award has also given the business an opportunity to promote itself better and generate interest from the media.

See more: Read about the Farmers Weekly Awards 2014
 
“We’ve got the award up on the wall, it’s well publicised in our marketing and we’ve had lots in the papers and on the BBC,” says Mr McKee. “It’s a talking point and it’s given us lots of PR, and so customers see it’s going really well and see us at the top in the UK”
 
Morale in the team has also been given a boost. “From a staff point of view it’s given everyone a buzz because it’s recognition of how hard they’ve worked. It’s nice to be able to say we’re the best farm shop business and it gives you a lift.”
 
Mr McKee says he would encourage other farmers to consider the business benefits of the award and enter.  “You need to look at what it can do for your business – what benefits can it bring through being the best. With this award behind you, you can do so much more”
 
Enter Farmers Weekly Local Food Farmer Award here. Entries close Wednesday 30 April at midnight.
 
“We didn’t expect to win and were really pleased when we won – it was a big night and the kind of thing we wouldn’t normally be at, so it was very special and we’ll always remember it,” says Mr McKee.