Winners Announced in Regional Agricultural Awards - 20 October 2016

Agricultural leaders from across the region joined together at Trinity Park, Ipswich for the annual showcase of farming excellence and innovation.  Now into its fifth year, the Suffolk Agricultural Association Awards Dinner celebrates best practise from food, farming and countryside businesses across Suffolk, Norfolk and Essex. The evening is held to announce and celebrate the winners of the SAA’s main farming competitions – the Suffolk Farm Business Competition, the BALE Award and Suffolk Farming School of the Year. This year, for the first time, it will also feature the Suffolk Agricultural Apprentice of the Year, a joint venture between the SAA and Easton and Otley College.

First place in the prestigious BALE Award competition for farm diversification went to Andrew and Wendy Houston of MPS Agri Ltd.  The business designs, manufactures and sells electronic sow feeding equipment direct to pig farmers.  The majority of the units they sell are for indoor use but broadened to sell an outdoor, solar powered wireless system for outdoor use in 2012.  Based at Stanaway Farm in Otley, they employ 11 people.  As pig farmers themselves they are able to bring a lot of hands on experience and knowledge to their business.

Second place went to Norfolk based J &D Papworth Farms for their butchery business, whilst best new comer went to Henry Savage for All Weather Access who supply temporary roadway and pedestrian flooring to the events, construction and agricultural sectors.

The BALE award is now in its 25th year and throughout this time has been sponsored by Ashtons Legal. Jonathan Long, Partner and Head of Agriculture and Estates at Ashtons Legal judged the competition along with John Wall, President of the SAA and Ruth French from last year’s BALE Award winner, Stowlangtoft Healthcare LLP.  The BALE Award celebrates farm diversification through alternative land or building use. 

The Suffolk Farm Business Competition is sponsored by Savills and recognises the best farms in Suffolk, in three categories according to size.  With a judging panel made up of members of the 1992 Alumni from Harper Adams University, businesses were ranked against various criteria including business management, sustainability, land occupation and community involvement.  Class 1, for farms of up to 250 hectares, sponsored by Hutchinson, was awarded to J A and K E Sailsbury of Whitegate Farm, Creeting St Mary who received the F W Barker Perpetual Challenge Cup and Tankard. 

In Class 2, farms up to 500 hectares and sponsored by Larking Gowen, top honours went to Acorn Farms Ltd of Acton Hall who were presented with the Cranworth Perpetual Challenge Cup and Tankard.  Acorn Farms were also named Best Livestock Enterprise in this category which is sponsored by Stanfords, Colchester Livestock Market.

The King George VI Memorial Challenge Cup and Tankard for Class 3 which is sponsored by RSM and recognises farms over 501 hectares was presented to Dennington Hall Farms.  The Farm also won the Special Award for Best Conservation, sponsored by Fram Farmers.

A best crop award was also made in each category and this was sponsored by C F Fertiliser.

The Suffolk Farming School of the Year winners were also duly recognised at the Awards Dinner.  The winning school, Saxmundham Primary School was awarded an engraved trophy which they will keep for the year.  This is a highlight of the SAA’s education calendar and is sponsored by Felix Cobbold Trust, P. Tuckwell Ltd. and BQP, the agricultural arm of Dalehead Foods.

This year was the first time the Suffolk Agricultural Apprentice of the Year featured in the awards dinner with both winner, Craig Thompson and runner up, Arnis Purins acknowledged.  This new SAA competition is sponsored by FramFarmers and supported by Easton and Otley College and is open to apprentices with a Suffolk employer studying for an agriculturally related apprenticeship.

Phillip Ainsworth, Chief Executive of the SAA said: “The Awards dinner is a very important date in our calendar when we celebrate the best farming practise and innovation in the area.  Farming businesses have long been an important part of our economy and I’m delighted that through the Suffolk Agricultural Association (SAA) Awards, we can all join together to celebrate how the sector continues to evolve to create a vibrant rural economy. It is also good to recognise the contribution young people make to the development of the sector through the Farming School of the Year and our new competition, the SAA Agricultural Apprentice of the Year. We are also extremely grateful to all our partners who have supported the competition through sponsoring and judging.”