2010 FW Awards: Search for a Farming Champion under way

Do you know somebody who works tirelessly to improve and promote the farming cause?

Why not give them the chance of being recognised for their hard work and devotion to the industry by nominating them for the title of Farming Champion of the Year 2010?

The accolade is part of the Farmers Weekly Awards and is sponsored by the NFU.

The champion could be a campaigner for justice for British farmers or someone who promotes the value of agriculture to the public or developing business models, technology or advice that will benefit many producers and growers.

What makes potential champions stand out is the devotion to their cause. They will go beyond the remit of their day job to achieve goals and objectives on behalf of the wider industry. In 2009 the award went to, not one, but two champions – Wales’ rural affairs minister Elin Jones and Welsh chief veterinary officer Christianne Glossop.

They won the accolade for their far-sighted approach to tackling bovine TB and for their determination to see an eradication programme for the disease in Wales become a reality.

Why does farming need a champion?

“The perceptions of farming are changing. We’ve gone from being an industry that presents itself as a problem to an industry that presents solutions to many of the challenges that society faces. Increasingly politicians, civil servants, the media and most importantly consumers understand that agriculture is a business that not only delivers food, jobs and a contribution to the real economy but a better environment and biodiversity. We have a great story to tell but we need people to tell it. That’s why we need farming champions and that’s why the NFU is proud to sponsor this award.”

NFU president Peter Kendall 

The judges applauded their decisiveness, commonsense and collaborative approach and recognised their drive to achieve their goals despite significant opposition.

“Both women knew their stance would be controversial, but they took comprehensive advice, have been prepared to face criticism and pursued an urgent approach, tackling both wildlife and cattle,” the judges’ citation read.

“In the process, they became hugely popular with farmers and farming groups. “Pragmatic”, “proactive” and “practical” are just three of the words often used to describe Elin and Christianne’s approach to this issue.

“It’s also been an example of joined-up thinking and government, scientists and farmers working together. A lesson for us all,” the citation added.

The Farming Champion of the Year Award 2010, sponsored by the NFU is not just for politicians. Previous winners have been drawn from TV celebrities and working farmers.

In 2008 Jimmy Doherty’s Farming Heroes TV series communicated agricultural and countryside messages to millions of viewers.

The six-part primetime BBC Two series saw Mr Doherty travel the nation, visiting everyone from the massive and high-tech to the tiny and traditional, showcasing (and celebrating) agriculture in its many forms.

Farmers described the series – every episode of which attracted more than 2m viewers – as “inspirational”, “unbiased” and “long overdue”.

Farmer winners have included West Country beef farmer Jilly Greed and Ian Pigott, from Hertfordshire.

Mrs Greed impressed with her work in 2007 highlighting best practice in the cattle sector and promoting beef farming as caring for the countryside and producing high-welfare, high-quality food. Mr Pigott was recognised for his “fantastic work” in kick-starting the Open Farm Sunday initiative which draws hundreds of thousands of members of the public.

Suggestions for Farming Champion 2010

Farmers Jim and Kate Bevan for helping to educate the public on farming reality.
The Bevans welcomed the BBC Lambing Live team on to their farm in March and explained the farming way of life to 2.6m viewers.

Countryfile presenter Adam Henson
After years out of the limelight farming has become primetime television once again as part of the BBC’s Countryfile programme. Mr Henson has been instrumental in making sure that practical farming forms part of the Countryfile content on Sunday evenings.

Liberal Democrat MP Andrew George
Andrew George is well known to his constituents in St Ives, West Cornwall but less well known for his fight for fairer trade for British farmers. Mr George is credited by the NFU for his tireless work which has paved the way for a supermarket ombudsman.

How to nominate

You can nominate a Farming Champion (or put yourself forward) by calling 020 8652 3304, by email marion.phillips@rbi.co.uk or by going to the awards website https://www.fwi.co.uk/awards-website/awards-home/

The winner will be announced at the awards night on 7 October, 2010, at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London.

The night – one of the biggest in the farming calendar – will see the winners of all 15 other categories in the 2010 Farmers Weeky Awards named.