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Five Otago farming businesses are among those entered for the 2015 Lincoln University Foundation South Island Farmer of the Year award.
Twelve entries have been received from throughout the South Island, including a West Coast farm for the first time in the history of the competition.
Operations range from sheep and beef farms to a marine mussel farm, saffron grower and fruit producer.
Finalists will be announced in mid October and the finals will be held at Lincoln University on November 18.
The Otago finalists are Balclutha sheep and beef farmers Ashley and Shonelle Townsend; Adam and Annabel Spiers from Lindis Crossing Station, Wanaka, who run four properties, including one near Ashburton, finishing lamb, venison, prime beef and bull beef; summer fruit producer Matthew Tyrrell, of New Zealand Gourmet at Roxburgh; sheep and beef farmers Richard and Annabelle Subtil from Omarama Station, at Omarama; and David Crutchley, from Shortlands Station in the Maniototo.
The other finalists are Clearwater Mussels (Marlborough Sounds); Clearwater's Organic Dairy Company (Peel Forest); sheep, beef and deer operation Coleridge Downs (Tony and Pam Plunkett), from the Rakaia Gorge; organic sheep and beef farmers Paul and Tracey Ruddenklau from Te Anau; Dan and Bridget Studholme, who farm sheep, beef cattle and dairy heifers at Waimate; Raft Creek Farm, a deer breeding property at Hokitika; and Greta Valley saffron producers Cheryl Rault and Ray Hughes.
The winner will receive a $20,000 study travel grant to further their farm business knowledge, and a field day will be held on their property next year.
Last year's winner was Patoa Farms, a large scale free farmed pig breeding and finishing operation at Hawarden, in North Canterbury.