Accolades abound for top farmers at 2017 Suffolk Agricultural Association awards

All recipients of awards at the Suffolk Agricultural Dinner at Trinity Park, Ipswich, on 19 October

All recipients of awards at the Suffolk Agricultural Dinner at Trinity Park, Ipswich, on 19 October 2017. PICTURE: STEPHEN WALLER WWW.STEPHENWALLER.COM - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

Top Suffolk farming businesses were celebrating after they were crowned cream of the crop at the county’s annual farming showcase this week.

Suffolk Farm Business Competition Class 3 winners James and Ben Larter (centre) of Plant Larter Farm

Suffolk Farm Business Competition Class 3 winners James and Ben Larter (centre) of Plant Larter Farms receive their award from Paul Harris (left) (RSM) and Will Hargreaves (Savills) at the Suffolk Agricultural Dinner at Trinity Park, Ipswich, on 19 October 2017. PICTURE: STEPHEN WALLER WWW.STEPHENWALLER.COM - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

This year’s Suffolk Agricultural Association (SAA) awards ceremony on Thursday, October 19, brought together outstanding examples of Suffolk’s stellar farming industry, with awards for crops, livestock, conservation work - and overall business performance.

Three farms - judged independently by industry experts from outside the county - expressed delight after scooping the small, medium and large farm titles at the Agricultural Awards Dinner, held at Trinity Park, Ipswich.

The showcase of farming excellence and innovation, now into its sixth year, celebrates best practice from food, farming and countryside businesses across Suffolk, Norfolk and Essex, and includes the Suffolk Farm Business Competition, the Suffolk Agricultural Apprentice of the Year and Suffolk Farming School of the Year.

In the Suffolk Farm Business Competition, sponsored by Savills, farms are ranked within three size categories on various criteria including business management, sustainability, land occupation and community involvement.

Suffolk Farm Business Competition Class 2 winners James and Mike Porter (second left and right) from

Suffolk Farm Business Competition Class 2 winners James and Mike Porter (second left and right) from Porters Farms receive their award from Andrew Nicholson (left) (Barker Gotelee) and Sam Tydeman (Savills) at the Suffolk Agricultural Dinner at Trinity Park, Ipswich, on 19 October 2017. PICTURE: STEPHEN WALLER WWW.STEPHENWALLER.COM - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

This year’s judging panel was made up of members of the 1999/2000 alumni from Harper Adams University.

In the farms of up to 250 hectares, the award went to Fletcher & Dunt of Park Farm, Charsfield, near Woodbridge, which received the F W Barker Perpetual Challenge Cup and Tankard. Farmer Stephen Fletcher put their success down to teamwork, singling out for praise wife Marion, who looks after the farm’s livestock contract farmer John Taylor, and care farmers Nathan Nobbs and Kevin Francis. “I can’t believe it - it’s an extraordinary event,” he said.

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Judges Richard Binning and Ed Walters said it was difficult to pick a winner. “The winning competitor especially was really maximising the resources they had available,” said Richard. “The tie between the farm diversification and the business was just really neat so that swung it for us really.”

In the farms up to 500 hectares, top honours went to Porters Farms (Walpole) Ltd of Hillhouse Farm, Walpole, which was presented with the Cranworth Perpetual Challenge Cup and Tankard. Third generation farmer Mike Porter, there with son, James as they celebrated the farm’s eighth win since around the 1980s, said: “We don’t attend just to win - it’s the taking part.” He added: “We are proud of what we do and we are working with everybody rather than against them.”

Suffolk Farm Business Competition Class 1 winners Marion and Stephen Fletcher (centre) receive their

Suffolk Farm Business Competition Class 1 winners Marion and Stephen Fletcher (centre) receive their award from Chris Seppings (left) (Hutchinsons) and Rebecca Roberts (Savills) at the Suffolk Agricultural Dinner at Trinity Park, Ipswich, on 19 October 2017. PICTURE: STEPHEN WALLER WWW.STEPHENWALLER.COM - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

Judges Jon Ireland and Mark Turney said the farm had a “positive and integrated approach”, collaborating with local farm businesses.

The King George VI Memorial Challenge Cup and Tankard for Class 3 for farms over 501 hectares was presented to Plant Larter Farms, Framlingham. Farmer Ben Larter said they were “over the moon and totally surprised” at the win. “We are really, really pleased - it makes you feel pleased and proud of what you are doing.”

Judges Mark Chandler and Dan Burgess said they were “deeply impressed” with the commitment of the competitors. Ben’s understanding and attention to detail was “a credit to the farming industry”, they said, and he had an “excellent grasp” of his cost base.

The Suffolk Farming School of the Year winning school, Acton Primary School, was awarded an engraved trophy.

Category award winners at the Suffolk Agricultural Dinner at Trinity Park, Ipswich, on 19 October 20

Category award winners at the Suffolk Agricultural Dinner at Trinity Park, Ipswich, on 19 October 2017. PICTURE: STEPHEN WALLER WWW.STEPHENWALLER.COM - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

The SAA’s Suffolk Agricultural Apprentice of the Year winner Kerry Knott and runner up, William Appleby, were also celebrated with a film showing how farm apprenticeships were helping youngsters and farm businesses across the region. Awards co-ordinator Nicola Currie said the award, now in its second year, had really mushroomed, and thanked all those who had supported it.

Other awards included: Class 1: 2nd J A & K E Salisbury, 3rd Copperfield Enterprises, best conservation R White & Partners, best crop J C Pirkiss & Son, best livestock J A & K E Salisbury. Class 2: 2nd Acorn Farms Ltd, 3rd P C Kindred & Son, best conservation Porters Farms, best crop Steward & Son, best livestock P C Kindred. Class 3: 2nd R H Forrest, 3rd E J Barker & Sons, best conservation E J Barker & Sons, best crop Plant Larter Farms, best livestock David Black & Son.

Suffolk Agricultural Apprentice of the Year runner up William Appleby (centre) receives his award fr

Suffolk Agricultural Apprentice of the Year runner up William Appleby (centre) receives his award from The Earl of Iveagh (left) (president of the SAA) and Richard Anscombe (Fram Farmers) at the Suffolk Agricultural Dinner at Trinity Park, Ipswich, on 19 October 2017. PICTURE: STEPHEN WALLER WWW.STEPHENWALLER.COM - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller