Fen Farm Dairy and British Quality Pigs celebrate national victories at 2017 Farmers Weekly Awards
PUBLISHED: 10:23 12 October 2017 | UPDATED: 18:55 12 October 2017
Fen Farm Dairy
A diverse dairy business and a quality pig producer are among the East Anglian farms celebrating victory at a national industry awards ceremony.
Jonny and Dulcie Crickmore at Fen Farm Dairy, near Bungay won the Diversification Farmer of the Year title at the 2017 Farmers Weekly Awards, while Howard Revell of Stradbroke-based British Quality Pigs in north Suffolk was hailed the national Pig Farmer of the Year.
Judges praised the Crickmores’ approach to the slump in milk prices, when they decided to cut out the middleman and sell their milk directly to the public by installing a vending machine selling raw milk at the farm gate.
The farm has since diversified further into making milk, cheese and butter from their cows’ raw milk, after importing a herd of Montbeliarde cows in a bid to make a brie to rival the French. And the company added yet another honour this week by claiming the Best Artisan Cheese Producer title at the Great British Cheese Awards.
Mr Crickmore said: “It means a lot to be recognised by people in the same industry as us, that we have done something well in our field.
“We have gone off on a tangent doing stuff that is a bit random and some of the things we have done over the last year or two was quite different and quite original. Diversification is a category where there is a lot of competition, because there is a lot of diversification in farming these days.
“Going forward, I would like to have time to explore the idea of farmers being able to sell their products more directly to their final consumer, so there are not so many people in the middle taking cuts. I think it is unfair that some people in the middle take more money than the person taking all the risk at the start of the chain. I want to lead the way in changing that, and the idea has come from our vending machine shop.”
Meanwhile British Quality Pigs (BQP) won praise from the Farmers Weekly judges for the culture which underpins its success as the largest pig producer in the country.
Judges said the company, which is responsible for 10pc of the UK’s sow herd population, is operating efficient, high-welfare outdoor systems which are focused on customer requirements, while maintaining strong environmental attributes.
“There is a constant drive to improve performance on each of the farms through new technologies,” they said. “For example, BQP works closely with genetics companies to enhance the performance of sows and even conducts research on one of its units.
“Innovative troughs for feeding sows reduce wastage and environmental issues and buildings for growing pigs optimise their welfare.
“The business is actively involved in helping find solutions to industry problems such as antibiotics use.
“Investing more than a million pounds to install select dosers on every contract grower-finisher farm is part of the initiative to reduce medicine use.
“It works closely with its main customer Waitrose and is passionate about educating consumers by promoting pig production at farm events.”
Other finalists for the Mixed Farmer of the Year award included Emily Norton, of Nortons Dairy in Frettenham, outside Norwich, and the Pig Farmer of the Year finalists included Guy King of GSK Pigs at North Elmham, near Dereham.