COULD you take the crown off a Bellingham husband and wife team?

Last year, Andrew and Carole Hunter, of The Steel, took home the coveted title of Northern Farmer of the Year, after scooping the Sheep Farmer of the Year prize.

And now nominations are open for the 2021 year after one of the most challenging years.

The annual awards run by Northern Farmer magazine will be held virtually on February 25, and the search for this year’s nominees starts now.

It will be the eighth staging of the awards, which celebrate excellence in all sectors of agriculture across the north of England.

Hannah Chapman, editor of Northern Farmer, said after such a difficult 2020, it was more important than ever to celebrate the innovation and dedication of the region’s farmers.

“Little did we know when we staged our 2020 awards back in February with 400 people at Pavilions of Harrogate, that it would be one of the last large-scale events to take place before the national lockdown,” she said.

“Holding the 2021 awards in a virtual format will be very different, but we were determined to find a way of honouring our hardworking farming community, and we are so grateful to our sponsors, in particular principal sponsors Mole Country Stores, for supporting us to do this.

“This is a crucial time for agriculture, with new support systems and overseas trading arrangements on the way, so it’s more important than ever that we come together as an industry to celebrate the achievements of the last 12 months.

“Don’t be shy – get your nominations in as soon as possible!”

The nine categories are as follows: Farm manager; Sheep manager; Beef farmer; Dairy farmer; Arable farmer; Family-run farm; Outstanding achievement; Diversification; Young farmer.

Nominations should be sent by December 21 using the form published in the D&S Times on December 11 and 18, or online at www.darlingtonandstocktontimes.co.uk/farming/awards/.