AS WE move towards a new year the county is reminded of the role our farmers play in keeping the country fed.

As consumer trust and confidence in British farmers reaches a record high, Cumbria Farmer Awards 2022 returns to salute the fantastic work taking place across our county's agricultural industry.

With the massively successful inaugural Cumbria Farmer Awards behind us, next year is in the planning stages, and is brought to you by Newsquest Cumbria in partnership once again with Carlisle-based accountants and business advisors, Armstrong Watson.

Hosted this year by John Wharton, farmer and livestock manager and auctioneer at Mitchell’s Auction Mart in Cockermouth, and joined by over 227 farmers and industry specialists, the awards night at the Greenhill Hotel, Wigton, was an incredible testament to the determination and resilience of the industry, and a celebration of everyone coming together after a tough 18 months.

Prince Charles is widely recognised as one of Cumbria’s greatest champions, celebrating the county’s remarkable people and places. During the awards, he was congratulated and thanked by Lakes farmer Joe Relph for the high-profile work he has done, as he was presented with a Special Recognition Award from the Cumbrian farming community.

In a video message, Prince Charles told the audience he was honoured by the recognition, and said how much he looked forward to his annual visits to the Lakes and how he revelled in stretching his legs on the fells after a busy day of engagements across Cumberland.

The prince also highlighted how he was patron of two organisations based in Cumbria – the Herdwick Sheep Breeders Association and the Foundation for Common Land. “I have done what I can to encourage wider awareness of the dedicated effort over the centuries that has contributed to the upland landscapes which are valued by so many millions of visitors today.

“I worry greatly about the uncertain times that lie ahead. Yet, I remain hopeful that farmers in Cumbria have the skills, adaptability, and commitment to the land to address effectively both the biodiversity and climate crises affecting our planet, and to continue to produce high-quality food within this most spectacular landscape.”

Head judge and partner and head of agriculture and farming at Armstrong Watson, Andrew Robinson, said: “It gave us real pride to see the wide range of successful farming and food businesses we have in Cumbria.

In December's Farmer we will be launching our 2022 Cumbria Farmer Awards, together with our online nomination form to celebrate the diversity, innovation and adaptability of farmers across all sectors, no matter the size and scale of their business.

Alongside farming’s core sectors – dairy, beef, sheep, and machinery – there is also recognition in other valued groups such as family farms, students, new entrants, agri-tech and the huge number of diversifications, which are now so crucial to many businesses.