Burges Salmon dairy client wins top national award
13 October 2010
Somerset dairy farmer and Burges Salmon client Neil Baker has beaten off strong national competition to take the prestigious Farmers Weekly Dairy Farmer of the Year Award for 2010.
Neil, who farms 600ha at Leaze Farm, Crewkerne, said he was very proud to win the award and believed strongly in the dairy industry promoting itself to the wider public.
“We’ve been making cheese here in Haselbury Plucknett since 1966 and as a fourth generation Baker I feel the dairy sector is an amazing one to be in – there’s no doom and gloom here! We have to continue to strive to do what we do better,” said Neil.
The unit currently milks 1,050 cows averaging 9,400 litres a year, but within 12 months the target is for this to have risen to 1,200 cows doing 10,500 litres. One third of the 9m litres of milk produced annually go into making 270t of vintage handmade Cheddar for Tesco, Waitrose and Marks & Spencer.
Neil impressed the judges with his commitment to cow husbandry and comfort alongside top class performance and business management.
“Neil has grown a large scale unit through setting targets. He has created a unit incorporating outstanding health and welfare standards,” said judge John Allen.
Publicity from the award is likely to bring more visitors to the farm’s door – Neil averages one farm visit per month, but enquiries have already coming in for more.
“There are not enough of us in industry opening our doors, but I think it’s vital that we do. All I ask is that people come prepared to ask sensible questions rather than criticise or assume large means bad, which is absolutely not the case,” said Neil.