Devon Farmer Wins Award
SOUTH WEST DAIRY FARM BUSINESS OF THE YEAR AWARD
Alan Webber is the winner of this year’s South West Dairy Farm Business of the Year Award and received the Award from Simon Banfield, Farmer Director of Milk Link, at the Dairy Show at the Royal Bath & West Showground at Shepton Mallet on Wednesday 30 January 2008.
Alan farms 287 acres near Crediton in Devon, as part of a family partnership, milking 135 cows and rearing young stock under a full organic regime. With a premium milk price, but with its attendant high input costs, he managed to achieve a margin per cow well ahead of the other finalists in this year’s competition and the judges being particularly impressed by his dedication, obvious attention to detail, his outstanding grassland management and the obvious progress that he and the family are making in developing their milk business. Alan Webber is a very worthy winner of this prestigious award, having been short-listed on two previous occasions.
The overall winner of the competition receives £1,000 in prize money plus an engraved glass bowl and framed photograph to commemorate the occasion.
The other finalists were Mr J W Davis of Doulting, Shepton Mallet, Somerset; Messrs D L & B M Gordge of Batcombe, Dorchester, Dorset; Mr & Mrs N Loder of Oborne, Sherborne, Dorset; Mr & Mrs R Parker of Mappowder, Sturminster Newton, Dorset & Mr Brian Rich of Binegar, Radstock, Somerset and all the finalists were each visited by members of the panel accompanied by Mr Cotton.
This year’s competition was not without its own difficulties; initially the Foot & Mouth disease outbreak delayed the start of judging, put back to early September, only for the second outbreak to be announced whilst the judges were mid-way in their visits to the finalists’ farms. This caused an immediate embargo on any further farm visits for another six weeks before judging was completed. Mr Allen Cotton, representative of the Royal Bath & West Society accompanied the judges, Mark Gendall of Clydesdale Bank, Paul Charlton of Milk Link & Julian Newth a local farmer, on their visits.
The South West Dairy Farm Business of the Year Award is organised by the Royal Bath & West of England Society and is very generously sponsored and supported by Milk Link, the South West’s leading farmer-owned co-operative, and Clydesdale Bank.
Paul Charlton, Technical Services Manager for Milk Link Limited, and one of the competition judges said:
“Mr & Mrs Webber are deserving winners. Their sheer enthusiasm and commitment to the dairy business was overwhelming, whilst focusing upon clear business objectives. All business decisions were directly aimed at achieving their objectives and it was very encouraging to see the benefits of these decisions already shaping the future sustainability of a very successful business. Key to their success is not only this focus but also attention to detail whilst maintaining simple, practical and environmentally friendly farming practices.”
Mark Gendall, Agri-Business Partner Somerset & Dorset said “Clydesdale Bank, are very pleased in continuing their support for the SW Dairy Farm Business of the Year Award, as we see dairy farmers adjusting their business to new challenges. Clydesdale are actively promoting relationship banking with agricultural experienced bank managers, supporting farmers with their borrowing, investment and development plans during these changing times.”
“Alan demonstrated his knowledge and skills in adapting to his specific challenges, with a very positive attitude. His business acumen seemed to drive his approach to dairy farming and work/life balance, which the judges could see in the quality of husbandry, the cow performance, and the ultimate profitability of the business.”