THE excitement is building ahead of the "Oscars of northern farming" being presented this week.

The Northern Farmer Awards will be presented on Thursday evening (February 15) at Pavilions of Harrogate, the Great Yorkshire Showground.

It will be the fifth time the awards have been presented and the ceremony has become one of the most eagerly anticipated events in the northern farming calendar.

An expert panel of judges have had a hugely difficult job in choosing the finalists and they must choose the ten winners in each category as well as the overall winner, who will become The Northern Farmer of the Year for 2018.

More than 400 people attended the 2017 event, and this year the awards will again be hosted by Wendy Gibson.

Wendy co-presented television news programme Look North for many years and is a farmer’s daughter from County Durham.

The event’s principal sponsor is once more Mole Valley Farmers.

A spokesman for Mole said: “The Northern Farmer Awards provide a perfect platform to share excellence in farming across the North of England, and Mole Country Stores is very proud to continue its sponsorship of these awards.

“The celebration of local farmers operating within an ever-changing national landscape is at the heart of Mole Country Stores’ commitment to providing a competitive environment for farm inputs.”

Our other sponsors are George F White, Outstanding Achievement; Thorpe Trees, Diversification of he Year; Bimeda, Sheep Farmer of the Year; S&A Fabrications, Beef Farmer of the Year; Lely Centre Longtown, Dairy Farmer of the Year; The Yorkshire Agricultural Society, Family-Run Farm of the Year; NFU Mutual, Young Farmer of the Year; East Durham College, Farm Manager of the Year; and Paxtons, Arable Farmer of the Year.

The awards are staged by Newsquest, publisher of The Northern Farmer magazine, as well as The Northern Echo and Darlington & Stockton Times.

Last year's overall winner was John Aynsley, of Stanghow, near Guisborough, who had won the Farm Manager category.