THE Cumbria Farmer Awards 2020 are calling for entries from farmers and agri-businesses across the county.

The 12 categories are now open for nominations and entries, and can also be made online at before the closing date of Friday, April 24.

The search to find the county farming’s unsung heroes is organised by Newsquest Cumbria in partnership with Carlisle-based business advisors and accountants, Armstrong Watson, who are also sponsoring a further category, the Lifetime Achievement Award.

Amid ongoing Brexit battles and daily political grappling, the inaugural launch of the awards offers a timely reminder there are certainties in the county’s provision of food through our dynamic and innovative farmers and producers.

With the agricultural industry contributing more than £24 billion to the UK economy, the role of the county’s farmers, families and rural businesses has never been so paramount.

The winners will be announced at a glittering awards dinner held at the Shepherd’s Inn at Rosehill in Carlisle on Friday, September 25.

Alongside farming’s core sectors dairy, beef, sheep, and machinery, there is also a celebration of talented youngsters coming into the industry and a reminder of the contribution rural businesses are making to the county’s economy.

Vanessa Sims, Newsquest Cumbria’s Regional Group Editor, said: “With so much change and uncertainty characterising the current era of agriculture, the Cumbria Farmer Awards are a timely celebration of all that is best in the Cumbrian countryside - the drive and creativity that underpins Cumbria’s economic and social life.”

“Whether it is about celebrating amazing on-farm ideas, boosting the profile of your business, or acknowledging the hard work of your staff, the Cumbria Farmer Awards provides an unrivalled platform to shout about our fantastic farming industry.”

Other category sponsors so far are Dalston Accountants, David Allen (who are sponsoring Young Farmers’ Club of the Year, the drinks reception and supporting the host on the night); Contractor of the Year and Dairy Farmer of the Year are sponsored by Carlisle-based Carrs Billington; Livestock Farmer of the Year, H&H Group, based at Rosehill, Carlisle; Agricultural Student or Rural Skills Award, Red Tractor Assurance; Tenant Farmer of the Year, National Trust Cumbria; and Farming Champion, the National Farmers Union (NFU).

The respected panel of judges for the awards is headed by Andrew Robinson, partner and Head of Agriculture and Farming with Armstrong Watson. “When I first heard about the opportunity to partner with Newsquest and bring to the county a new awards for the farming and agriculture sector, it was important that Armstrong Watson was the first to put their hands up and support the initiative by becoming the lead sponsor,” said Andrew, a farmer’s son, born and bred on a large hill farm in North Cumbria. “Farming is going through significant change, and as a firm of accountants, business and financial advisors we know too well how important the sector is.”

To enter or nominate an individual who is doing an exceptional job and deserves recognition for their efforts, see the nomination form.