A farmer who began his career on a rented farm at the age of 21 has won a national award.
Sam Bailey, of Green Lane Farm, Yarlet, was chosen by Farmers Weekly as its young Farmer of the Year.
Sam, now 23, originally from Eccleshall, is milking 140 cows, as well as tending a flock of 250 sheep, and is the youngest tenant on Staffordshire County Council’s County Farms estate.
As well as almost doing all the work single-handed, once a week Sam hosts a group of teenage students to spend a few hours learning about food and its production.
The judging panel said that Sam showed determination and hard graft to succeed and his character, business acumen and willingness to learn had already brought impressive results.
Congratulating Sam, Mark Winnington, Staffordshire County Council’s cabinet member for Jobs and Growth, said:
This is an excellent achievement for Sam and the entire county farms team shares in his pleasure.
Sam had a strong business plan when he applied which is why his age wasn’t an issue.
People like him are the raison d’etre of the county farms network: giving ambitious young farmers opportunities to begin their career on a small scale and then providing opportunities for them to progress to larger units as their business grows.”
I always wanted to milk cows, but I never thought I’d be milking my own at 21. It’s exciting times, opening new doors. When I look back the council has been amazing from Day One and I owe it all to them for giving me the opportunity.”
The county’s farms network has a range of units ranging from 34 to 199 acres, totalling more than 6,600 acres, and are predominantly dairy units. County farms staff support farmers throughout their tenancy.
Mark Winnington added:
The agriculture industry plays an essential role in Staffordshire’s economy and our tenants are an important part of that.”