Today WWF, together with the Baltic Farmers Forum for the Environment (BFFE) and farmers organizations around the Baltic Sea, launched a competition for a new “Baltic Farmer of the Year Award”. 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.
The purpose of the award is to highlight best practices in “Baltic-friendly” farming and to recognize and highlight farmers who are leading in 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 500 Euros.
“We have tried to communicate that the problem with excess nutrient input to the Baltic Sea is largely based on current agricultural policies and not agriculture per se, but farmers have nonetheless been receiving negative attention and are often portrayed as the ‘bad guys’, says Pauli Merriman, Director, Baltic Ecoregion Programme. “With this award, we want to show our support for the agricultural sector, while highlighting good examples from around the region”.
WWF is now accepting applications for the competition from individual farmers, farmers’ organizations and other interested parties. Farmers are encouraged to self-nominate or be nominated by their country’s farmers’ organizations to enter the competition. Award criteria and application forms can be requested from WWF and the deadline for submitting applications is 31 August 2009.
The winners of each national contest and the winner of the regional award will be announced in September this year. WWF will produce a website and conference publication, highlighting the best practices provided by these farmers as well as highlighting the importance of sustainable agriculture to reduce the threat of eutrophication to the Baltic Sea.
Since 2007, the WWF Baltic Ecoregion Programme has been working intensively on eutrophication issues, with a particular focus on agriculture’s impacts on 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 order to reduce nutrient runoff to the Baltic Sea.