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- SPECIAL REPORT -

Lofty Goals
 
TCGA Hopes To Sustain Cotton Momentum
In Texas

By Tommy Horton
Editor


Other areas of the Cotton Belt might have less cotton acreage this year, but the environment in Texas definitely looks and feels different. That fact was reflected in last month’s Texas Cotton Ginners’ annual meeting and trade show in Lubbock.

Whether it is improved fiber quality, new export markets, research or technology, Texas ginners are optimistic as they prepare for what might be another record crop in their state.

It’s one thing to produce a record crop, but it’s another challenge to process that crop at the ginning level.

“I think everybody’s attitude was good at the meeting in Lubbock,” says Tony Williams, TCGA executive vice president. “Coming off another big crop in Texas, it’s encouraging to see how producers and ginners feel as we go into another crop year.”

For three out of the past four years, Texas has produced huge crops, with the ‘07 crop topping 5 million bales in the High Plains and more than 8 million bales statewide. Projections for the ‘08 crop indicate another big crop. In fact, most economists predict that nearly half of the cotton acreage in the United States will be planted in Texas.

Busy Trade Show

More than 130 exhibitors were at the two-day TCGA Trade Show at the Lubbock Memorial Civic Center.

“We received good feedback from our exhibitors, and I think everybody felt that we were emphasizing the right topic with our theme of ‘Delivering Quality To The World,’” says Williams.

“With the varieties and production practices that we now have in this state, I think it’s easy to see what we’re trying to accomplish.”

In a related development, TCGA is taking bold steps to invest in cotton’s future after it approved a couple of projects at its board meeting.

First, the organization will work with Texas A&M University in adopting an internship program to give qualified students in the university’s ag engineering department a chance to work at TCGA member gins.

This initiative will help introduce students to the possibility of pursuing a career working in a gin or becoming a gin manager.

For several weeks during ginning season, students will travel to gins in south Texas and the High Plains to gain hands-on experience.

Second, another educational outreach program will involve South Plains College in Levelland, Texas, and coordination with the Lubbock Independent School District.

TCGA is working with South Plains College in developing a curriculum for the fall of 2008 to help students pursue degrees or certification in industrial management. This would include an emphasis in ginning and include courses in wind energy, ginning, semi-conductors, electricity, hydraulics and advanced electronic technology.

The program in the Lubbock Independent School District is an attempt to offer courses to high school students who might have an interest in manufacturing. This would give these students a chance to be better qualified to pursue jobs after high school in manufacturing, including cotton ginning.

“The goal of all these initiatives is to make an investment in the future,” says Williams. “The workforce we have out there working in gins has done a great job for us. But if we hope to attract technologically-skilled labor in the future, we need to be proactive with these programs.”

Dealing With Issues

As for other developments that occurred during the meeting, TCGA reviewed the usual issues that continue to confront the Texas ginning industry – Farm Bill, new technology, insurance coverage, labor and statewide regulatory matters.

Jim Bradford of Dimmitt, Texas, completed his term as TCGA president, and David Wyatt of Woodsboro, Texas, will serve as president until his term ends in April of 2009. Keith Mixon of White Deer, Texas, is now vice president, and Jerry Multer of Wall, Texas, is secretary.

Lee Tiller, immediate past president of TCGA, was honored as “Ginner of the Year.”

Williams, who became executive vice president of TCGA in 1988, received a special award for his 20 years of service to the organization.

A new event added to this year’s meeting was a member reception at the American Museum of Agriculture.

Bright Future

Despite cotton acreage reductions in other parts of the Belt, Williams is pleased that Texas will maintain production at consistent levels. He’s also confident that the state can continue its trend of record-breaking yields.

“I’d say these past few years have given the Texas industry a lot of optimism,” he adds.

“Although we like producing top quality cotton, we hope that other regions experience a rebound in acreage in the next year or two.”

Contact Tommy Horton at (901) 767-4020 or thorton@onegrower.com.


TCGA, Cotton Farming Support Scholarships

One of the highlights of the TCGA annual meeting and trade show is the awarding of scholarships to Texas Tech students who are agricultural majors.

This year’s recipients of TCGA scholarships are: Jenna Jones, a junior ag communications major from Slaton; John Reznik, a senior agronomy major from Dumas; and Matthew Townsend, a junior interdisciplinary ag major from Buffalo.

Each recipient will receive a $1,000 scholarship funded by TCGA and Cotton Farming magazine.

In addition, this year’s recipients of the prestigious Rocky King Memorial scholarships are: Stephanie Miles, a senior ag communications major from Longview; Weston Rouse, a senior ag communications major from Wharton; and Seth Sowder, a junior agronomy major from Sudan.

Since Cotton Farming began co-sponsoring the TCGA annual meeting and trade show 17 years ago, the magazine has contributed between $45,000 and $50,000 to the TCGA Scholarship fund. Those funds are made possible by companies who buy advertisements and support the TCGA printed program distributed at the trade show.

Cotton Farming Editor Tommy Horton presented a $3,000 check to TCGA executive vice president Tony Williams at this year’s awards dinner.


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