Cleve, Cowell, Kimba nominated for Ag Town of the Year

Cleve, Cowell and Kimba are among 43 towns nominated for the inaugural South Australian Ag Town of the Year Award.

Each of the three towns' nominations focuses on the areas in which the local community is using its strengths to deal with the range of challenges the Eastern Eyre Peninsula region has faced in recent years.

In Cowell, the response to the impact of both drought conditions and the effect of Pacific Oyster Mortality Syndrome (POMS) on the local oyster industry has been highlighted.

The town established a spat hatchery to combat the loss of Tasmanian supply following the POMS outbreak in the state, which could eventually assist in establishing sustainable self-sufficiency in the state.

With dry conditions over recent years affecting farmers across the district, the Franklin Harbour District Council appointed dedicated wellbeing coordinator Jasmin Piggott to organise morale-boosting events and assist the community in accessing support services.

The council's chief executive officer Chris Smith said the award would boost the spirit of the community in difficult times.

"Cowell has faced adversity in the two main areas of agribusiness that the town is renowned for," he said as part of the nomination.

"We are getting on with business and looking after one another to get through these tough times."

A commitment to reversing population decline and supporting agricultural innovation is central to Kimba's nomination for the award.

The Buckleboo Farm Improvement Group, lead by some of the town's younger farmers, is a major player in developing sustainable farming practices.

The group is carrying out on-farm trials to work towards sustainable management of natural resources and working closely with researchers and agribusinesses.

Kimba District Council chief executive officer Deb Larwood said in the nomination that the community was working together to keep the town strong.

"While the expansion of the scope of some agricultural operations and purchase of traditionally family-owned farms has contributed significantly to a year-on-year population decline of approximately one per cent, the Kimba community has rallied to develop a number of outside-the-box strategies that focus on emerging technologies and practices, and value-adding to established and experimental cropping."

Home to the Eyre Peninsula Field Days, Cleve's nomination focuses on the town's role in promoting agriculture, especially among South Australia's young people.

The town is home to Sims Farm, a one of a kind educational facility allowing agriculture students at the Cleve Area School a chance to be involved in a commercial farming operation running 350 poll merino sheep and cropping a variety of crops

Cleve district mayor Phil Cameron praised the volunteer operations committee behind Sims Farm in the nomination.

"The (Sims Farm) volunteer committee are a mix of community leaders that have a passion for agriculture, extensive knowledge and experience and continue to grow and develop agriculture in our district," he said.

Mr Cameron also praised the volunteers involved in running the biennial field days, one of the state's premier agricultural events.

"The commitment and support from the community in the numerous volunteer hours required for such a large scale event demonstrates the drive from regional development and promotion of agriculture," he said.

Primary Industries and Regions Minister Tim Whetstone said the nominations highlighted the importance of regional towns.

"This award is designed to showcase innovative and diverse towns where primary industries play a critical role in the community," he said.

"The winner of the award will be a town that has demonstrated excellence and support for its farming industries over the past 12 months, with the underpinning goal of growing primary industries and driving regional development."