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Aquaculture and red meat producers share top prize

MEDIA RELEASE Wednesday 18 November

Aquaculture and red meat producers share South Island’s top agricultural prize

For the first time ever, the prestigious Lincoln University Foundation’s South Island Farmer of the Year competition has been awarded to two entrants, with a North Otago red meat producer and a Marlborough green-lipped mussel grower sharing the top prize.

Announcing the unexpected result at the finals this evening at Lincoln University, the competition’s chief judge Nicky Hyslop told the audience that the judges were unable to separate the two top performers, Richard and Annabelle Subtil of Omarama Station, and Marlborough’s Clearwater Mussels (John Young Managing Director).

Clearwater Mussels is a greenshell mussel producer with 90 mussel farms ranging from 2.5 to 80 hectares supplying a variety of food and pharmaceutical markets.

Primarily a sheep and beef property with some smaller scale hydro and tourism operations, Omarama Station also has scientific reserves and Department of Conservation and QEII Trust covenants on the property.

“Both of these finalists exhibited above industry standards in their respective fields,” Hyslop said, “exhibiting leadership in innovation, technology, human resource management, marketing and entrepreneurship and, crucially, very strong relationships with their customers.”

Hyslop added that another key feature of both winners was the way they both championed their product and resources. “Richard Subtil’s passion for merinos and the land, and John Young’s passion for mussels and the sea, as an organic sustainable and new farming system, are strong influences on the success of both of these companies.”

Lincoln University Foundation Chair Ben Todhunter said: “The purpose of the South Island Farmer of the Year competition is to recognise excellence in farming practice and promote it for other primary producers to learn from and be inspired by,” Todhunter said. “The competition is an excellent vehicle for knowledge sharing, and the finalists’ presentations will be available to view online.”

Todhunter said that the shared top prize produced a unique challenge for the foundation with two winners’ field days to organise for Omarama Station and Clearwater Mussels. “We will be promoting these field days (date to be advised) in the new year,” he said. “They are an excellent opportunity for farmers and others in the agribusiness field to learn what makes these two businesses worthy of their shared title.”

Clearwater and the Subtils will share the $20,000 business travel grant for research, education or marketing purposes.

An additional $20,000 was awarded as follows, with each category earning a $5000 cash prize:

The Silver Fern Farms red meat producer ‘Plate to Pasture’ award for best consumer awareness: Omarama Station, Richard and Annabelle Subtil

The Farmlands award for best resource management: Clearwater Mussels, John Young.

The Agstaff award for human resource management: Tony and Pam Plunkett.

The Lincoln University award for innovation and technology: Paul and Tracey Ruddenklau.


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