Recognition of a job well done does wonders for team moral and performance. And nothing conveys greater recognition than winning or being shortlisted for 2011 Farmers Weekly Dairy Farmer of the Year.


This is something last year’s winner, Neil Baker, fully appreciates. “Since winning, there’s a real buzz about the place. Ultimately, I can’t do anything on my own and I wouldn’t have won the award without the team,” he says.

Mr Baker says one of the biggest and unforeseen benefits of winning has been the number of people wanting to do business.

“Companies know we are going to have visitors, so they want their kit on farm. We’ve had feeder wagons lent to us and we’ve also been able to negotiate better feed price. People want to work with good people, as do we.

“I’ve been made part of an exclusive club and next year’s winner has the opportunity to become part of it,” he says.

With a herd of 1050 dairy cows, Mr Baker’s farm at Haslebury Plucknett, Somerset, is one of the biggest in the country and is an excellent example of how large-scale dairying can be welfare friendly.

With “factory farming” a hot topic for the industry, the win has done a great deal to boost the image of the large-scale dairy, he says.

“I view the award as a win for the cows. It shows we are looking after our animals better than the average and has completely gazumped the ‘large-scale is poor welfare’ argument.”


Benefits from applying

There is huge benefit to be had from sitting down and looking at your business objectively as part of the application process, says this year’s independent judge, John Allen, Kite Consulting.

“I see this as a great discipline to go through since it’s a self-appraisal. In the process you will also consult others to seek their support and put you staff in the picture so they will do that analysis with you.”

Mr Allen sees the following benefits from applying:

* An acknowledgement from your peers for the good job you are doing

* A boost in morale for your staff and family

* An opportunity to promote your business and what it does – for example, sale value of stock, premium contracts, etc

You can enter or nominate someone for Dairy Farmer of the Year or ring Alma Watson on 020 8652 8026 for an entry form. Entries close on 30 April 2011.