Cream of the crop for Ag Town of the Year

Ten towns have been shortlisted in the annual awards, ranging from Penola, a hub for SA’s dairy industry, to Cummins in the wheat heartland.

The Top 10 Towns have been announced in the 2024 Agricultural Town of the Year, an initiative of the Department of Primary Industries and Regions (PIRSA).

The state’s Mid North region is well represented with Burra, Eudunda, Gladstone, Jamestown and Laura all garnering a spot, as voted for by the public.

Bute at the top of Yorke Peninsula also made the cut, as did Eyre Peninsula’s Cummins and Kimba, Penola in the South East and Kapunda on the northern outskirts of the Barossa Valley.

All of these regional towns play a part in the state’s primary industries and agribusinesses, which in 2022-23 saw a record revenue of $18.5 billion.

This year’s judging panel includes PIRSA Food, Wine & Agribusiness Ambassadors Angelo Demasi, who is CEO of the South Australian Produce Market and Kris Lloyd, the CEO of Woodside Cheese Wrights. They are joined by Primary Producers SA chair Simon Maddocks and Regional Development Australia Adelaide CEO Kelly-Anne Saffin.

The program also serves to highlight the part agriculture plays in each regional town. And for Saffin, this is something that has stayed with her.

“In my first year as judge last year, the way in which communities integrated their schooling, education and businesses across all of agriculture was impressive,” Saffin said.

“Having grown up in the regions and on a farm, I had seen that – but the enormous amount of effort and inclusivity that the industry has for the whole of the community is quite phenomenal.”

The Top 10 Towns will now provide written submissions to support their nominations, after which they will be narrowed down to just three.

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Following the announcement of these three finalists, the judges will take to the road to visit each town and get a firsthand understanding of the contribution they are making to the state’s agriculture industries, farming practices and the future of agriculture and primary industries.

Saffin said just getting into the top three was as good as being declared the winner.

“The calibre of entries that we saw last year from the finalist towns and the wide-ranging participation was phenomenal,” she said.

“The things that stood out about the finalists were the way in which they had dealt with adverse situations and the long-term plans and inclusivity they’ve put in place to drive not only agriculture and farm gate, but value adding.”

Since 2019, the Ag Town of the Year has recognised the South Australian towns which are excelling in agricultural practices, and the flow-on effect they have in supporting their vibrant and resilient communities.

Each of the three finalists will have promotional videos and stories produced for them by Solstice Media, the publisher of InDaily.

The winning town of the 2024 Ag Town of the Year will be presented with a certificate and trophy by the minister.

They will also receive a sign for the town entrance recognising their achievement, a community celebration event and a feature in SALIFE magazine.

The Agricultural Town of the Year Award runs alongside InDaily’s regional news program and the 2024 winner will be announced at its Regional Showcase Awards in October.

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