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High-profile industry leader will judge this year's Norfolk Farm Business Competition

PUBLISHED: 09:37 09 May 2019 | UPDATED: 10:06 09 May 2019

Former NFU president Meurig Raymond is one of the judges for the 2019 Norfolk Farm Business Competition. Picture: Sarah Lucy Brown.

Former NFU president Meurig Raymond is one of the judges for the 2019 Norfolk Farm Business Competition. Picture: Sarah Lucy Brown.

A senior figure in the agricultural world will run the rule over Norfolk's finest farming businesses after agreeing to judge a county competition in its 40th anniversary year.

Jeff van Poortvliet at Colby Hall Farm, the Norfolk Farm Business Competition champion for 2018. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYJeff van Poortvliet at Colby Hall Farm, the Norfolk Farm Business Competition champion for 2018. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Organisers of the Norfolk Farm Business Competition said it was "quite a coup" to secure the services of former National Farmers' Union president Meurig Raymond, who will join a line-up of judges from across the country.

The competition, run by the Aylsham Agricultural Show Association since 1979, is open to all Norfolk farms, with entries required by the end of this month.

Jeremy Buxton, of Eves Hill Farm in Booton, near Reepham, who joined the awards committee this year, said: "I think the fact that Meurig Raymond has agreed to come here suggests how highly he thinks of agriculture and farming in Norfolk.

"He is coming all the way across the country [from Wales] and he will be expecting to see a very high level of farming in our region. I think he will be just as interested in judging the competition as the farms will be in being judged by him."

Mr Buxton said the long-running competition was a testament to the strength of farming in Norfolk.

"It shows how important farming is to our region that we have got such a long-standing competition that has stood the test of time through hard times and good times as well," he said.

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"For the farms that do well in this competition, there is huge kudos. There are so many good farmers here that if you become an award-winner in Norfolk it is really something to be proud of.

READ MORE: Competition crowns Stratton Streles Estates as Norfolk's best farm business for 2018

"They will be marked on their approach to business management, the crops in their rotation, their livestock system, and the diversification as well.

"They have got to be efficient and organised and stand out from their peers. The judges will also be looking at farmers' approach to environmental stewardship, and for those forward-thinking enterprises that are not afraid to try new things and new technology.

"This is a Norfolk farm competition and it is for all farms in Norfolk, whether it is small family farms or big limited businesses, and whether they are mixed, or arable or purely livestock. It is all-encompassing."

Mr Raymond will be joined on the judging team by James Nott from Essex and Robin Blatchford from Wiltshire, to decide on the destinations of a range of trophies.

While the winners and runners-up of every category from last year will contest the overall championship class, there are also awards for the best farms in two size categories, and special prizes for the best livestock enterprise, the best small farming business under 160 hectares, and the best non-farming diversification, which will be open to all classes.

Last year's champion was Stratton Streles Estates, based at Colby Hall Farm near Aylsham, managed by Jeff van Poortvliet.

- The 2019 Norfolk Farm Business Competition will take place on June 17 and 18, and the closing date for entries is May 31. For further information and entry forms visit the Aylsham Show website.

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