Do you know a farmer who has an environmental story to tell? For years, activist groups have been accusing farmers of spraying pesticides needlessly and doing other evil deeds that supposedly damage the environment.

The editors of Southeast Farm Press know that isn't so. But, agriculture needs positive, real-life stories of what farmers are doing to take care of the environment to counter the negative impressions generated by members of environmental groups.

That's where you can help. If you know a grower who is doing good things environmentally, call, write or e-mail us here at Southeast Farm Press and let us tell you how you can nominate that person for the 2002 High Cotton Awards.

As in previous years, judges will select those farmers with the best environmental stories from each of the four major regions of the Cotton Belt — the Southeast, Delta, Southwest and Far West — as winners of the 2002 High Cotton Awards.

The regions correspond to the coverage areas of the Southeast Farm Press, Delta Farm Press, Southwest Farm Press and Western Farm Press, publications of Farm Press Division of Intertec, which sponsors the High Cotton program through a grant to The Cotton Foundation.

“We have been extremely pleased with the response to the High Cotton program — both from farmers and industry and from regulatory agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency or EPA,” said Michael A. Gonitzke, publisher of Farm Press. “It is especially gratifying to be able to publish positive stories about the environmental contributions being made by growers.”

“We think this is a very positive program for the cotton industry,” says Andrew Jordan, executive director of The Cotton Foundation. “The accomplishments of the participants certainly reinforce the idea that farmers are the original environmentalists.”

Winners of the 2002 High Cotton Awards will receive an expense-paid trip to the National Cotton Council's Beltwide Cotton Conferences, which will be held in Atlanta, Ga., next January. They will be recognized at an awards breakfast during the Beltwide.

The requirements for entries in the program are simple: Farmers must be profitable, they should produce a quality product and do it in an environmentally friendly manner.

Stories about the four regional winners will be published in the early January issues of the Farm Presses. Copies of those High Cotton issues will be used by the National Cotton Council and other groups in working with Congress and EPA.

To obtain nomination forms, contact Forrest Laws or Sandy Perry with Farm Press at 662 624-8503 or write us explaining why you think a farmer is deserving. Our mailing address is 14920 U.S. Highway 61, Clarksdale, Miss. 38614. The e-mail address is forrest_laws@intertec.com.

Deadline for nominations is Sept. 15.