To mark ten years of Country Week we are today launching a search to find the county’s Farmer of the Year 2015.
Farmers do a fantastic job of feeding the nation, spending long hours nurturing their animals and crops in all weather conditions while acting as crucial guardians of the countryside and its beauty, all at the same time.
Country Week is keen to hear from farmers of all sizes and sectors who are located right across Yorkshire in its hunt for an outstanding farmer to be named its Farmer of the Year 2015. To nominate your farming operation for the award, explain in 500 words what your farm has done to engage with the public in the last 12 months. Include full contact details and send submissions in the post to: Ben Barnett, Country Week, The Yorkshire Post, 26 Whitehall Road, Leeds, LS12 1BE. Alternatively, please email entries to email@example.comThe deadline for entries is June 12.
There are numerous awards schemes out there but Country Week has narrowed its search for the region’s leading farmer down to fulfilling one specific and important function: educating the public about where their food comes from.
Experts tell us we live in a world of increasingly discerning consumerism, where how our food is produced matters just as much as how good it tastes. Fortunately, Yorkshire can rightly lay claim to being the food capital of the country - from its diverse farming scene to its thriving and growing band of award-winning independent food producers.
With that expertise, Yorkshire’s ability to produce outstanding food and drink that stands out in the taste stakes is in no doubt, but as a leading ‘food county’ there comes great responsibility to educate its people of the high standards of British food production.
Food scares, like the ‘horsemeat scandal’ a little over two years ago, only serve to heighten the appetite of the public for more information so that they can buy food with confidence.
In countless ways, British agriculture, and indeed, specifically, Yorkshire agriculture has risen to that challenge. Farmers are increasingly ‘public facing’. Many engage with the public on social media to explain the provenance of the food they produce; others use their farm shops to open channels of communication; for some, different farm attractions bring about community engagement - from mobile educational farms, to farm open days and playing host to school trips in barns converted into classrooms on their land.
Farmers should be applauded for going to new lengths to press home the importance of supporting British farming. After all agriculture is an industry that contributes significantly to the country’s economy and creates employment in rural areas.
In fact, farming is part of a food chain which employs one in eight people and contributes more than £100 billion to the economy.
It is for all these reasons that Country Week is today launching its search to find a farmer or farming family who have really embraced the mission to teach the wider public about the connect between field and fork.
For this new award, we want farmers themselves to get in touch with us to share what they have achieved in the last 12 months - how they have made a difference to the community despite all the threats the industry faces in the form of disease risk, trying weather conditions, price crashes and personal hurdles.
We will be publicly recognising one farmer from across the region who can demonstrate their commitment to championing the industry to the wider public; a farming family that has strived to consistently communicate with their local community about where food comes from.
An industry panel of judges - including Judy Bell, chairman of regional food group Deliciouslyorkshire, Bill Cowling, show director at the Yorkshire Agricultural Society, and Richard Pearson, regional director for the National Farmers’ Union in Yorkshire and the North East - will help Country Week to pick out the most outstanding candidate.
The winner will be revealed at the Great Yorkshire Show in July, and before then, we will feature the stories of shortlisted entrants in the running for the Farmer of the Year 2015 title.
Jeremy Clifford, editor of The Yorkshire Post, said: “There is no other award out there that celebrates how Yorkshire farmers are increasingly becoming educators to the public about the food they consume.
“This is some turn around too. The days when farmers felt they were misunderstood by the general public seem to be fading away and the public’s own appetite for greater food provenance is setting the agenda for our big retailers to follow.
“Despite all the challenges facing the agricultural industry, our county’s farmers can rightly be proud of their contribution to the British way of life - from putting fantastic tasting food, reared to high welfare standards, on our plates every day, to the maintenance of our precious rural landscapes that, year after year, draw visitors to our region.
“And the pro-active role many of our farmers have willingly adopted to help re-connect the public to the land is worthy of some real recognition.”