2012 BALE Award is launched

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Today sees the launch of the Best Alternative Land Enterprise (BALE) Award 2012 to find the best farming diversification initiative.

The Award, which is run by the Suffolk Agricultural Association (SAA), in partnership with Ashtons Legal Solicitors, is now in its twenty-first year.

Changes within the agricultural industry in recent years have encouraged farmers to diversify in order to support their core businesses and many have achieved notable success. The Award recognises the entrepreneurial skills of East Anglia’s farmers.

The competition is open to farmers from across Suffolk, Norfolk, Essex and Cambridgeshire. Entries are judged on their commercial, creative and practical merits, as well as their contribution to the regional economy. Recent winners have included a farm shop, a children’s play venue and farm park, a pets crematorium and cemetery, a wedding venue and a rare meat supplier.

Martin Ritchie of The Reid Rooms, Essex, and winner of last year’s ‘Champion of Champions’ award, said: “We were all delighted to win this award which is, of course, a great morale boost to the whole team. I have always felt that the BALE award is a brilliant competition. We can all gain ideas from other businesses that enter. It is both educational and inspirational and I always try to encourage others to enter.”

As well as prizes for first and second place in the competition, there is also a special category for Best Newcomer – a business less than three years old – and a special award for the Best Green Practice. The first place winner receives the prestigious Ashtons Legal Challenge Cup and £2,000 worth of legal advice.

This year’s judges are John Carrick – the 2010 winner, Martin Ritchie – 2011 Champion of Champion award winner and Jonathan Long, Head of Agriculture and Estates at Ashtons Legal.

Executive Director of the SAA, Christopher Bushby said: “The BALE Award is now regarded as the region’s premier farming diversification competition and it is an opportunity to publicly applaud the enormous entrepreneurial spirit and success of our region’s farmers.”

Jonathan Long commented: “Our partnership with the SAA acknowledges the strong links that the firm has throughout the agricultural industry in East Anglia. The firm is extremely well placed to assist farmers on how to best enhance their business through diversification. Every year the judging panel is astounded by the high level of entries and I’m sure that this year will be no exception.”

The closing date for entries is Monday 24 September.


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