Competition call

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Organisers are urging friends, family and farmers themselves to overcome modesty and enter the Future Farmer competition after only one entrant had been nominated last week.

Funded by the Elizabeth Murray Trust and supported by NFU Scotland, the prize is £4,000. The award goes to a farmer – modern or traditional, hill or lowland, large or small – who has made an impact on commercial farming whilebeing sustainable.

The organiser, Haddington farmer Michael Williams, said: “If we could get five or six entries, that would be good. There are a lot of wonderful farmers around but they have to enter. There is a certain ‘oh I’ll never win’ view and farmers don’t like paperwork, though there is very little for this competition – and £4,000 is quite a decent prize.”

The award aims to showcase ways in which Scottish farmers produce food, fibre and wood products in a financially viable way while minimising their ecological footprint. Farmers can put themselves forward or nominate someone else who they think deserves recognition and the award is open to owners, tenants, crofters or employees.

The winner will get help to promote their ideas to other farmers, policy-makers and the media, says the trust, adding: “The award seeks to promote practical organic and non-organic innovative ideas for improving sustainability. This means that your ideas do not have to be new or unique so long as they work and you are willing to inspire others to try them.”

Organic farmers won when the award started but two non-organic producers have triumphed, so the perception that farmers had to be organic to have a chance has changed, said Mr Williams.

“Scottish farming has much to be proud of and as an industry we should be ensuring that we demonstrate some of the amazing things we achieve and the outstanding things farming contributes to our small country.

“Whoever wins the Future Farmer Award will be able to demonstrate forward thinking, passion and dedication to the industry in a way that also shows us how farming and the environment can work hand in hand towards the sustainability of rural Scotland.

“I know that many farmers have the ability to win and so I ask all those involved in Scottish farming to help us spread the word and encourage people to come forward.”

Borders farmers have been three of the award’s four winners so far with organic producers Pete Ritchie and Heather Anderson of Whitmuir Farm, West Linton taking the inaugural title in 2008, followed by organic farmers Amanda Cayley and Chris and Denise Walton of Peelham Farm in Berwickshire in 2009 and top Texel breeder Arnold Park of Drinkstone Farm, Hawick in 2010.

The closing date for entries is April 29. For more information visit www.futurefarmer.org.uk/award.