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Organic farm partnership recognised in British Farming Awards

Date Published: 19/10/2015

Leicestershire dairy farmer and OF&G licensee Wil Armitage has scooped a top award at this year’s British Farming Awards.

Wil, who farms in partnership with Peter Dixon-Smith at Keythorpe Lakes Farm in Tugby, was handed the Partnership of the Year Award at a glittering ceremony in Droitwich last week (15 October).

Wil and Peter’s working relationship goes back over 20 years, with Will working as the Peter’s herd manager before being made farm manager in 1995.

Together the pair achieved great success with the farm’s Lyons herd, including highest yielding herd in 1995, the Gold Cup in 1996 and 1997, and premier exhibitor at the 1996 Royal Show.

After the herd was sold in 2003, Peter – who was then 70 years old – offered Wil a partnership, which led to an eventual 50:50 split with Peter retaining the land.

They restocked with 200 commercial Holstein cows and in 2005 decided to convert to organic. In 2008 the farm had its most profitable year since starting.

In 2011 the pair put down a deposit on Glebe Farm, a 110 hectares unit in Rutland. When Wil was offered a further 59 hectares next door, they converted it to a dairy and began milking there in April this year.

Praising the pair, the award’s judges said they admired how Will and Peter worked together and communicated with each other in a way which meant that the partnership had gone from strength to strength.

On receiving the award Wil said the pair had always tried to ‘rise to the occasion’.

“It’s great to have won,” he added. “We’ve been together a long time, starting in 1990, and the business has been through a huge change. From my point of view I would not have progressed without Peter’s support.”

Peter added: “Sometimes farmers continue until late in life and keep plodding along. We need somebody fresh to come in.

“[Wil and I] worked well before the partnership, but now it has become even more profitable and we will continue growing forwards together.”