Today WWF and Swedbank, together with the Baltic Farmers Forum for the Environment (BFFE) and farmers’ organisations around the Baltic Sea, open up the competition for this year’s “Baltic Sea Farmer of the Year Award”. The purpose of the award is to highlight best practices in “Baltic-friendly” farming and to recognize farmers who are taking innovative measures to reduce runoff from their farms. There will be a monetary prize awarded to the regional winner of 10,000 Euros. The winners of each national competition will all receive a certificate, a paid trip to the conference, and a nominal monetary prize of 1,000 Euros.
WWF is now accepting applications for the competition from individual farmers, farmers’ organisations and other interested parties. Farmers are encouraged to self-nominate or be nominated by their country’s farmers’ organisations to enter the competition. Award criteria and application forms can be downloaded from www.panda.org/baltic, and the deadline for submitting applications is 30 September 2010.
The competition will select one main regional winner from a pool of nine national nominees, representing each Baltic Sea country. A conference will be held at the end of the competition inviting the nine winning nominee farmers from each country to discuss ways in which to advance the application of environmentally friendly farming around the region.
“When we look at farming and the Baltic Sea, the focus is often on the problem of eutrophication”, says Mats Abrahamsson, Director of the WWF Baltic Ecoregion Programme. With this award, we want to promote farmers who take the extra steps to go beyond the ordinary, and really contribute to the solution of the problem.”
“Farmers have an important role to play in the fight against eutrophication and they also represent a very important part of our customers. Swedbank is committed to the principle of corporate responsibility and places a strong emphasis on sustainability” says Hans Wennberg at Swedbank.
The winners of each national contest and the winner of the regional award will be announced in October this year. WWF will publish the winning contributions, highlighting the best practices provided by these farmers as well as the importance of sustainable agriculture to reduce the threat of eutrophication to the Baltic Sea.
Last year’s winners, Finnish couple Katariina Vapola and Jyrki Ankelo, were awarded “for their strong and long commitment to environmental protection; for the high number of innovative measures to reduce nutrient runoff that have been implemented on their farm; and for the jury’s belief that most of these measures could easily be replicated and duplicated by other farmers around the Baltic Sea”.
WWF is committed to reducing the threat of eutrophication to the Baltic ecosystem and is therefore working to dramatically reduce the inputs of both phosphorus and nitrogen to the sea with a specific focus on promoting the application of environmentally friendly farming practices in the Baltic catchment area.