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Last modified: 23 August 2013
Image: Andy Hay
Eight farmers from across the UK are through to the final of the Nature of Farming Award with people across the land voting to decide who they think should come out on top. People who cast their vote will be automatically entered into a draw to win a luxury break for two people.
Now in its sixth year, the Nature of Farming Award celebrates farmers who do wonderful things for nature, finding the one who’s done the most on their land to help our threatened countryside wildlife.
The competition is run by the RSPB, supported by Butterfly Conservation and Plantlife, and sponsored by The Telegraph.
The award was set up to help share wildlife-friendly farming practice and encourage public awareness of the important role we need farmers to play in conservation. It celebrates farmers who work hardest to help threatened countryside wildlife, such as skylarks, brown hares, bees, butterflies and plants.
This year, for the first time, the judges have selected eight finalists rather than four – each one representing a different region in England (north, east, midlands, south east and south west) and one for each of the countries.
Fergus Collins, Countryfile Magazine editor and one of this year’s judges, said: "It's hugely heartening to see farmers who are true custodians of the land and its wildlife, proving that it's possible to support the natural environment while managing a profitable business."
Martin Harper, the RSPB’s director of conservation and Nature of Farming Award judge, said: “The Nature of Farming Award is our annual celebration of all farmers who give nature a home on their land and every vote cast helps to support wildlife-friendly farming.
“These farmers are real wildlife heroes, but they need our support and we need more of them. Governments in the UK and Europe need to better support nature-friendly farming and consumers can help by looking out for brands which are truly better for the environment”
Last year’s winner, Henry Edmunds, has an organic farm in Wiltshire hostingrare birds, bumblebees, moths and butterflies. He said: “I have witnessed our landscape deteriorate over the last 30 years - birds have disappeared, butterflies have been lost, and ancient grasslands ploughed up. I wanted my farming policies to reverse those trends. To do without wildlife is not an option. We all have a responsibility to maintain it and help it flourish, not sacrifice it for greater commercial yields. We need to step back, look sensibly at the way we farm and try to make it more sustainable and better for the environment in the long run.”
The award consistently attracts tens of thousands of votes from the public, with almost 18,000 last year and over 22,000 the year before. People are invited to vote online, by phone or post up until midnight on Saturday 31 August 2013.
Information on how to vote can be found at www.rspb.org.uk/farmvote Everyone who votes will be automatically entered into a free prize draw for a luxury break for two people with Millennium Hotels. Votes can be cast until 31 August 2013 and the winner will be announced in September.
The Nature of Farming Award is funded by the EU LIFE+ programme, safeguarding the future of our farmland birds under the EU Birds Directive.
For more information visit www.rspb.org.uk/farmvote
We're celebrating farmers who do wonderful things for nature. It's time to cast your vote!