Entries invited for Suffolk Agricultural Association’s BALE award 2015

Three judges for Suffolk Agricultural Association's Best Alternative Land Enterprise (BALE) awards
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Three judges for Suffolk Agricultural Association's Best Alternative Land Enterprise (BALE) awards Jonathan Long, last year's winner Sally Scobie, and terry hunt

The Suffolk Agricultural Association (SAA) in partnership with sponsors Ashton KCJ solicitors is calling for entries for its prestigious Best Alternative Land Enterprise (BALE) award, now in its 24th year.

Open to all farm businesses throughout Suffolk, Norfolk, Cambridgeshire and Essex with buildings or land on their farms, the annual award is the only one of its type in the region and recognises and rewards imaginative and commercial alternative non-agricultural uses of the land and positive effects on the local economy. Previous winners have included a cheese making enterprise, log cabin holiday accommodation, a wedding and outdoor event venue, as well as a farm shop and a nursery.

This year the judges are Jonathan Long, partner and head of agriculture and estates at Ashton KCJ, Terry Hunt, president of the SAA and editor of the EADT, and last year’s winner, Sally Scobie of EE Ulph & Co. The judging will take place on September 30 and October 2.

The first prize is the Ashton KCJ Challenge Cup and £2,000 of legal advice, the second prizewinner and the Best Newcomer both receive £1,000 of legal advice and there is a £500 legal health check for the Best “Green Practice,” all of whom will be announced during the Annual Agricultural Awards dinner to be held at Trinity Park on Thursday, October 22. All entrants receive two complimentary tickets to attend the event.

Sally Scobie, last year’s BALE Award winner and one of this year’s judges encouraged farmers to enter their diversification businesses.

“To be recognised amongst such a high level of entrants as winners was a huge boost to us both personally and professionally and more importantly, to all of our staff,” she said.

“The competition highlights the industries tucked away in rural locations bringing innovation, employment and opportunities to our region and raised our profile significantly.

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“The award helped us to evaluate what we have achieved and has encouraged us to continue to look forward.”

SAA chairman Robert Rous said: “As a charity that champions the rural economy and its importance to Suffolk, we are delighted to host this annual showcase of rural innovation.

“The level of enterprise, imagination and creatively of entries for this competition never ceases to amaze.

“Last year we had 11 outstanding entries from across the region. The standard increases year on year and furthermore every year our winners say how significant this accolade above all others is to them and their businesses. We welcome new and previous competitors to this year’s competition.”

Jonathan Long said: “Ashton KCJ is delighted to be sponsoring the BALE Award once again this year and that it will be part of the annual agricultural awards dinner for the fourth year running, giving the award the profile it deserves.

“We have seen time and time again how bringing in professionals, such as solicitors, enables farmers and landowners to diversify and set up new and exciting ventures without taking anything away from their farming business. I am always astounded by the high quality and sheer variety of the entries we receive each year and look forward to this year’s judging process.”

Entries should complete the entry form which can be downloaded at www.suffolkshow.co.uk/bale_awards, and send accompanied by a cheque for £20 per enterprise to Sue Bennitt, SAA, Trinity Park, Felixstowe Road, Ipswich IP3 8UH. Please note all entrants must be members of the association or apply for membership, at a cost of £57.50, at the time of entering. All entries must be received by September 14.