The farming community came together in their hundreds last week as 18 winners of the British Farming Awards were announced.  

Sponsored by Morrisons and organised by Farmers Guardian, the sell-out event was attended by more than 700 farmers and industry professionals from as far as Orkney to Cornwall, and took place at the National Conference Centre in Birmingham.  

Now in its ninth year, the event celebrated innovative, determined and extraordinary farmers across all sectors, along with the diversity and adaptability of the UK’s farming community, no matter the size or scale of their businesses. 

Alongside farming’s core sectors, including dairy, beef, sheep, arable and machinery, there was also recognition for students, family farms, sustainable businesses, new entrants, new agri-technology and the huge number of diversifications, which are now so crucial to many businesses.  

With 18 categories up for grabs, a panel of 68 judges interviewed 63 finalists over the summer before eventually deciding on this year’s winners. 

2021 winners

Outstanding Contribution to British Agriculture (Sponsored by NSF)  

Kicking off the evening was the Outstanding Contribution to British Agriculture award, which was presented to NFU president, Minette Batters.  

As the first female president in the organisation’s 112-year history, Minette worked her way up the ranks to become a much admired and respected leader who now represents more than 50,000 farmers and growers in England and Wales since it was founded in 1908.  

In her role she has taken farming’s fight to Government and tirelessly campaigned on the major issues affecting the industry at a crucial time in its history, including advocating the ambitious goal of reaching net zero across the whole of agriculture by 2040.  

Outside of agri-politics, she is a mixed farmer from Wiltshire and has also diversified into weddings and catering. 

Farmers Guardian’s Farming Hero (Sponsored by Fullwood Packo)

The winner of this year’s Farmers Guardian’s Farming Hero award is Scottish chilli farmer, Sheena Horner, who spearheaded a campaign to improve mental health in the throes of the pandemic, galvanising the farming community to achieve it with her.  

Launched last October to coincide with #AgMentalHealthWeek, teams from the four nations of the UK and one representing ‘the rest of the world’ were tasked to run 1,000 miles by the end of this January.  

Smashing their target, the teams, which saw 1,200 farmers and industry professionals take part, went on to run just short of 65,000 miles, the equivalent of two-and-a-half times around the world.  

With each participant paying a £20 joining fee, #Run1000 event raised more than £60,000 for five farming charities and plans are already in place to do it again next year.  

Sophie Throup, Morrisons head of agriculture, fisheries and sustainable sourcing, reflected on what has been ‘a monumental time’ for the agricultural industry. 

She said: “The last 18 months have challenged us as a farming and food sector like never before. It is therefore even more important to have the chance to stop, reflect and celebrate some of the amazing innovation, care, best practice and creativity these British farming champions embody.  

“At Morrisons, we are so proud to be British farming’s biggest direct customer and to help bring great British products to our customers’ tables. We look forward to continuing to grow, innovate and champion the work farmers do, now and every day.”