bfa shortlist

Andrew Brewer

ANDREW Brewer and his wife Claire have run a grass-based dairy system for more than 20 years. Employing four fulltime staff members, the business runs a 500-cow autumn block calving herd, aiming to graze cows every day of the year utilising on/off grazing techniques. Some land is also let out for the production of potatoes and cabbages. All calves are retained for replacements or beef finishing and reared outdoors on grass and milk from seven days old, with males kept entire for rapid finishing at 13-14 months of age and beef heifers grazed with replacements until dairy heifers are mated.

Soil and animal health is central to maintaining the productivity of this farming system, with a focus on environmental sustainability and net zero latterly having enabled the business to make targeted improvements. Involvement in a soil carbon project is providing direction for targeted dung, compost or digestate field treatments, while a farm net zero project is facilitating learning around how mixed swards and the use of cover crops can affect the business’ bottom line. “Initial data on this suggests very little difference in rumination between sward type,” says Andrew. “Some milk constituents have been seen but more results are needed. The global need for more food and the ability to put a vegetable crop onto a livestock farm to improve quantity and quality of human nutrition should be pursued. “Increasing nutrition density and getting cattle eating crop residue, rather than contributing to food waste totals, are vital – we are grazing food waste for two months of the year, which allows more grass to be harvested earlier in the year.

“Understanding if carbon and other nutrients are replaced by regrading is a project I am very much excited by.” Challenging his own thinking and possibilities is also a big driver for Andrew who, as a senior GrassMasters discussion group member, has been able to partake in international travel and study tours on several occasions. Business succession has also been addressed to future-proof the financial side of the business, with the couple’s children brought into business discussions from an early age.

Olivia Midgley

After graduating from Sheffield University with a journalism degree, Olivia kicked off her career with stints on local and regional newspapers.
Much to her friends' amusement, her first celebrity interview was with Jimmy Savile in 2004.

She joined Farmers Guardian's London team in 2011 and worked her way up the ranks to become news and business editor in 2016.

Now living in the south, she travels home to her beloved Yorkshire whenever she gets the chance and when she can't, drinks copious amounts of Yorkshire tea to make up for it.

In addition to her love for small dogs (and gin), Olivia also enjoys cooking and once baked a three-tier wedding cake for her friend's nuptials. However, the process was so stressful she said it was doubtful she would ever do this again.

David Singleton

I grew up in a rural part of Northwest Lancashire with my family, my father was a feed rep who was well known in the locality as he and some local farmers instigated the Wyreside Farmers Club. As a small child I remember spending many hours driving to various farms in a Morris Marina, and sometimes being invited into farmhouses to be spoilt, this must have ignited a flame in me and the interest in farming started to grow.
I was lucky enough to have a neighbour who had a son the same age as me, so I spent many days at the farm, learning skills that would stand me in good stead. I suspect I was more of a hinderance than help, but from the age of about 10, I would feed up, fill feed hoppers, muck out and do my best to build my knowledge.

For me, it was a natural progression to study agriculture when I left school, so I signed up for the YTS programme at Lancashire College of Agriculture and Horticulture (now Myerscough College) where I worked on a local farm and attended college on day release once a week. When the scheme ended, I decided to do a full-time course for one year, which on completion was going to lead to a further three years, but due to family illness I went to work and had to curtail my education. I was taken on as a general farm worker come assistant herdsman where I learned how to graft in an old school way. I continued to study one day a week undertaking phase 3 dairy enterprise management and accounts and records. After a family bereavement I took stock and left the farm where I worked then got a job at Lancashire College of Agriculture and Horticulture as a technician in 1988. It was my job to prepare equipment for classes, complete audits for county council and assist during practical sessions. Before long I was teaching and assessing learners and still to this day have former students that say to me “brush, brush, tap tap.” In recognition of the very first sessions, they were taught when arriving at college. The job for me initially started as a temporary position with me fully expecting to return to full time farm work, but, as my teaching role developed, I found that I had discovered my true vocation and decided to pursue a career educating young people starting in the industry. I went to night school to study for a formal teaching qualification which has helped me to progress becoming a lecturer some 26 years ago. The beauty of education is that it never stands still, that teamed with the knowledge that young people still have enquiring minds drives me to try to be the best tutor I can. I like to think that I have made a small contribution towards the learner’s education and helped to spark an interest to help young people expand their horizons and pursue successful careers in our beloved industry. I will continue to pursue my career for as long as possible. It gives me great satisfaction to see former learners become successful businesspeople in their own right and I wish them every success. That is why I do my job.

Lucinda Douglas

Lucinda grew up on her family farm near Leyburn in the Yorkshire Dales and started her career as a rural surveyor practicing for 5 years. Prior to her appointment at the CLA in July 2021, Lucinda worked for the NFU in the North East as a County Adviser before moving to the NFU Mutual in Yorkshire five years ago as an Agent and Group Secretary where she has run a large team managing nearly 4,000 clients. Lucinda studied at Harper Adams University gaining a BSc (Hons) in Rural Enterprise and Land Management and is a qualified RICS Chartered Surveyor, Agricultural Valuer and Fellow of the Central Association of Agricultural Valuers (CAAV). Since completing a rural enterprise and land management degree in 2008, Lucinda has lived on her husband’s arable and beef farm in Ryedale.