Just a day after the federal government pushed through its contentious new Murray Darling Basin water buyback laws, one of Australia's best known global brands and irrigation industry success stories was starring at this year's Australian Export Awards.
Rice industry processing and marketing giant, SunRice, was in the export spotlight at Parliament House, alongside fast emerging Queensland red meat trader, Paradigm Foods, and Tasmanian equine hoof products maker, Scoot Boots.
The 70-year-old, farmer-owned southern NSW-based SunRice won the agribusiness, food and beverages category in the 61st export awards held in Parliament House, Canberra.
It was something of a bitter-sweet recognition of the rice industry's international success, with the company noting growers' achievements were again being undermined by a new round of irrigation entitlement reductions, set to further limit water availability to the Murrumbidgee and Murray valleys.
SunRice managing director, Paul Serra, took advantage of the event's Parliament House setting, and the presence of multiple federal government agencies sponsoring the awards, to note the risks faced by farm product exporters and regional economies following last week's buy-back legislation.
The buybacks, widely opposed in eastern Australia's basin regions, have been called a "kick in the guts to rural communities" by the National Farmers Federation, which blasted the Albanese Government for backflipping on its own position and throwing bipartisan support for basin water management "in the bin".
SunRice's Mr Serra said the government's reintroduction of water buybacks presented new challenges for the rice industry to remain globally competitive.
However, the company, which sells more than 1500 products, under 35 major brands into 50-plus countries, hoped to stay exporting premium rice products around the world for many years to come.
"SunRice is a key contributor to regional Australia's economy," Mr Serra said.
"In a production year of 600,000 paddy tonnes of rice, SunRice Group employs over 650 staff and contributes close to $500 million in direct payments to the regional economy.
"Our success is underpinned by our great people, our farmers who are among the best - and the most water efficient - rice growers in the world."
Brisbane-based Paradigm Foods, is Australia's only red meat exporter with B Corp Certification for high standards of verified social and environmental performance and transparency.
It claimed the sustainability and green economy export award.
Although the business only began in 2018, Paradigm Foods sells its bespoke, premium beef and lamb brands in 26 countries, notably China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, the United Arab Emirates and the US.
Its brand portfolio includes Icon Wagyu, Roam Australian Wagyu, Scot Black Angus, Roots Regenerative Beef, Margra Lamb and Alba Australian White Lamb.
The brands target high-end protein customers and those searching for red meat produced with a focus on sustainability.
"Our customers range from high-end retail to some of the finest restaurants around the world,' said general manager, Nick Thompson.
"Without a doubt, the focus on procuring red meat from a reputable company with a clear focus on sustainability is evident.
"Paradigm Foods is inspired by a passion to rethink the norm.
"We wanted to find new and better ways of doing things."
E-commerce winner, Scoot Boots, makes lightweight, removable hoof boots which have revolutionised the way horses and other equines move and perform.
It boasts tens of thousands of customers in more than 90 countries, with particularly strong markets in Germany, New Zealand, Switzerland, the UK and the US.
Scoot Boots began in a backyard shed in Acton Park where Dave McDonald designed a lightweight, removable hoof boot which was subsequently commercialised by Annette Kaitinis and launched in 2015.
Other agribusiness, food and beverages award finalists were Queensland boxed beef and live cattle exporter, AgTrade; South Australia's Almondco Australia; West Australia's, Fremantle Octopus; Pacific Sea Urchin Australia from Victoria; buffalo meat processor, Rum Jungle Meat Exports, Northern Territory, and Tasmanian premium shellfish supplier, True South Seafood.