The MIA and its burgeoning cotton industry played host to the biggest and most respected names in Australian cotton production for the first time at an impressive function at Griffith’s Exies Club on Wednesday night.
The 2017 Australian Cotton Industry Awards went beyond sharing a yarn over a beer with mates from other regions.
It signified a dramatic change in the industry after decades of work from MIA farmers and cotton growing advocates.
The outskirts of the cotton industry map were once restricted to Hillston at the most northern point of our region.
For decades places like Moree, Narrabri and Wee Waa carried the baton for Australian cotton, an industry yielding the second highest annual yields of any nation on earth.
The first MIA crops were planted and experimented with as recently as the early 1990s, but climate generally made the practice impossible without adaption.
Innovation, research and investment from MIA farmers and industry has since seen cotton become a winter staple on the horizon everywhere from Whitton and Darlington Point, to Leeton and Coleambally.
Local cotton farmers rubbed shoulders with the industry’s elite this week and for once, they weren’t out of place.
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Wednesday night was an opportunity for the nation’s cotton industry to thank MIA growers for their dedication, and subsequent expansion outside the industry’s northern NSW heartland.
The cotton industry’s admiration for the MIA was perhaps on full display at the end of the presentations when the Exies function room unanimously filled will thunderous applause, as the Toscan family from Darlington Point was crowned the 2017 Australian Cotton Industry’s Grower of the Year.
But like many of their MIA neighbours, the Toscans still remain relatively fresh when it comes to growing cotton.
Maybe having an MIA grower take the Daly M of cotton farming at the Australian industry’s night of nights, signals our industry’s coming of age.
There’s still plenty of potential for our region as a cotton producer, but Wednesday night confirmed the MIA’s significant rise to have a well-earned place among the Australian industry heavyweights.
Cotton’s most prestigious award, accepted by an MIA local, at a Griffith-hosted function.
Who’d have picked that 20 years ago?