Hello and welcome to a special Farmers Weekly Awards edition of This Week in Farming.
This is your place to catch up with the biggest and best news of the past seven days, and nothing has been bigger at FW this week than our annual Awards bash where we bring the industry together to celebrate the best of British agriculture.
The country comes to town
It was an evening of black ties and glittering ballgowns as a sellout crowd of close to more than a thousand farmers and members of the agricultural supply chain packed into London’s Grosvenor House hotel.
In my welcome speech I observed that great achievements are built on two things – learning from your mistakes and carrying on the legacy of those who came before us.
It was a particularly emotional evening for the friends and family of Edward Hulme, a finalist for Beef Farmer of the Year who sadly passed away just a few weeks ago.
His family and friends turned out in force at the Awards to celebrate his life, with his widow Louisa telling Farmers Weekly that she intends to carry on farming in his memory.
There was another particularly poignant moment during the awarding of this year’s Farming Champion award.
Normally given to an individual who has excelled at promoting British agriculture in the past 12 months, this year it was presented to the entire Ukrainian farming community as a gesture of solidarity.
While no representative was able to attend and collect it this year, Andrii Dykun of the Ukrainian Agrarian Council spoke by video message to praise farmers’ “incredible courage”.
Elsewhere, Tenant Farmers Association chief executive George Dunn scooped the Lifetime Achievement award, to huge acclaim, for his tireless work on behalf of tenant farmers over 25 years, fighting their corner and raising awareness of the issues they face.
Farmer of the Year
The night’s most coveted prize, Farmer of the Year, went to Pig Farmer of the Year David Fulton.
The Northern Irish pork producer was praised by the judges for his meticulous use of data, which is helping him achieve and maintain enviable physical and financial figures, despite an incredibly challenging time for the pig sector.
Chris Clayton, managing director of Awards headline sponsor Agrovista, said: “David displays in abundance all the key credentials of a fantastic farmer.
“He strategically manages risk and his aim to always improve his business is inspiring. His vision for the future is clear, and he has a well-thought-out plan as to how he will achieve it.”
Elsewhere this week
Speaking of which, away from the clink of glasses and tableware, it’s been another week of big political news.
The Conservatives’ annual party conference in Birmingham served to further highlight the splits in Liz Truss’ own cabinet, as well as throughout the backbenches.
Nowhere is this more apparent than in the debate over migration to the UK, with the prime minister and her home secretary Suella Braverman said to be at loggerheads over whether the number of people allowed to come here to work should be increased or not.
The prime minster has pledged to increase the numbers allowed in to the Seasonal Worker Scheme (SWS) to help ease agriculture’s labour woes, but Ms Braverman is seeking to cut net migration to the tens of thousands.
Meanwhile, the latest YouGov poll of people living in rural areas showed just 28% of support for the Conservatives, with Labour on 41%.
This compares with voting intentions in August of about 43% for the Conservatives and 24% for Labour, suggesting that if these results were replicated at a general election, the Tories are in danger of losing many of their prized rural seats.
Top Tractor spot up for grabs
The UK’s most popular tractor is John Deere’s 6R 155 – but could that be about to change?
There’s a shiny new model waiting to knock it off its perch: another John Deere, this time the equally snappy-named 6R 185.
Our machinery editor Oli Mark runs the rule over the differences between the two and airs his likes and gripes. Buyers beware – the machine he had on test costs a cool £230,000.
Listen to the FW Podcast
Don’t forget the latest edition of the Farmers Weekly podcast with Johann Tasker and Hugh Broom, too.
This week, they’ll be hearing directly from Awards winners and discussing the latest farming news.
Listen here or bring us with you in the cab by downloading it from your usual podcast platform.