"Proven, practical and productive." That is the kind of thinking which has placed our cotton industry stalwarts above the rest in this year's Cotton Awards.
The 2019 Cotton Industry Awards will be held on July 24 in Griffith, and finalists for Bayer Grower of the Year are Coleambally growers Ben and Kim Withams from Mundoora Farming.
"We are ecstatic," Mr Withams said.
While never thinking they'd make the finalist list, he said it was a great thing to have under their belt.
Cotton Australia has recognised the Withams' work with farm irrigation design, careful rotation of crops and continual commitment to soil health, as well as other community mindedness.
The rigorous awards judging process saw the panel travel to the finalists' originating regions to meet and assess them.
"I think we've had consistently good yields, and some challenging soil types, but I think there are lots of other people who should be nominated for what they are doing as well."
Following the acquisition of a neighbouring property in 2006, Ben and Kim extended their irrigated and dry land cropping operations to include cotton, a move that has proved highly successful.
And the competition is certainly tough, with the Withams up against Tim Leifels and Kate Ledingham from Moree, and Tom and Charm Arnott from Boggabilla.
Despite an uncertain future surrounding water, Mr Withams said the cotton industry will band together like they always do, working with, not against each other for the best outcomes.
"Water is a big concern. Not just the drought and the lack of water in the dams, but the small amount of water that has to go around... But there are not a lot of industries like cotton - it is fantastic. The support for each other is unparalleled."
In 2011 and 2012 Kim and Ben received the Southern Valley Cotton Grower Association Highest Farm Average Award and have just been nominated again for 2019.
Ben was awarded the 2017 Apexian of the Year, and is also dedicated to the club crop at the Murrumbidgee Community Demonstration Farm.
In 2016 he was recognised for 20 years of service to the Royal Fire Service.
For more information on the Cotton Awards, visit the Australian Cotton Awards website.
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