Do you know a farmer who has an environmental story to tell? Yeah, we know. According to the environmentalist groups, farmers are too busy spraying pesticides to care much about the environment.

Based on years of talking to farmers and their neighbors, we know that simply isn't so. Farmers are more concerned about the land they farm and the wildlife and the quality of the water than any Sierra Club or Environmental Working Group member living in Washington or New York.

You can help us spread the word about the good farmers do for the environment by nominating a family member, one of your neighbors or a farmer in the next county for the 2003 High Cotton awards.

The annual High Cotton awards honor a grower from each of the four regions served by the Farm Press Primedia publications. The qualifications are simple: Growers should be trying to grow a quality product and taking active steps to protect and enhance the environment.

This year's High Cotton winners will be honored at the National Cotton Council's Beltwide Cotton Conferences at the Opryland Hotel in Nashville, Tenn., Jan. 6-10. Winners will receive an expense-paid trip to Beltwide.

If you know a grower who might be a candidate, call, write or e-mail us here at Southeast Farm Press and let us tell you how you can nominate that person for the 2003 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 2003 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 Primedia, 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 be recognized at an awards breakfast during the Beltwide.

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 6621 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 flaws@primediabusiness.com or sperry@primediabusiness.com.

Deadline for nominations is Sept. 15.