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Ginner Ron Craft Sees
Better Days Ahead


EDITOR’S NOTE – In a recent interview with Cotton Farming magazine, Ron Craft of Plains, Texas, talks about the issues confronting ginners in his state. Craft, a former Texas Cotton Ginners Association president, is manager of New-Tex Gin, a family-owned operation that started 47 years ago. He is one of many ginners who will attend the TCGA annual meeting in Lubbock on April 2-3.

What are you anticipating in the ‘09 season?

It will be a difficult year because there are so many uncertainties. Whether it’s cotton, peanuts or grains, farmers will have to put a pencil to their spreadsheets and make smart choices. I’m glad to say that on the High Plains right now our farmers are leaning toward cotton. As a ginner, I’m glad to hear that kind of news.

How do you feel about Texas’ importance to the U.S. cotton industry?

I am really proud of Texas and what it has contributed to U.S. cotton in the way of acreage and improved fiber quality. It goes back to the varieties that we’ve planted in recent years. We are now competing quite well with our neighbors here in the United States as well as countries around the world. It wasn’t always like that for us, but that’s the environment in which we find ourselves.

Can the ginning sector in Texas continue to handle both large and small crops?

Weather obviously has a lot to do with these varying crop sizes that we’ve seen in Texas for the last couple of years. Whether it’s a 4 million bale crop or an 8 million bale crop, weather plays a big role. The hurricanes and tropical storms certainly affected the crop in south Texas last fall. As for our ability to handle these different size crops, I do think we can handle the big crops. Ginners are always looking for a challenge, and we’ve had to handle recent crops in a timely manner. We’ve learned from those extreme situations, and that will benefit us down the road.

How has the producer-ginner relationship changed in recent years?

Customer service is the name of the game. As ginners, we try very hard to be an information source for the producer. We try to offer him service when he walks through that door – whether it’s about fertilizers, new chemicals or varieties. We want to give him what he needs so that he can do a better job.

Then, on top of that, we try to process his cotton as economically as possible so we can do a good job of controlling our own costs. I try to put on my producer hat all of the time. I think about what he’s facing in terms of costs associated with harvesting equipment, fuel and a number of other items. We don’t want the producer to incur any more costs because he doesn’t have any place where he can pass on the costs. The buck stops with him.

How important are your employees at New-Tex Gin in Plains, Texas?

I’m glad you asked that question. Somebody once asked me how important my producer customers were, and I said they’re very important. However, let me say this about my employees. They are just as important as producers because without good service I wouldn’t be able to hang onto those very same producer customers.

How is the process going for implementing the new Farm Bill regulations?

The transition has been pretty challenging. In our county in West Texas, we’ve had producer meetings with the local FSA office. What I’m hearing is that there needs to be some clarification on some of the rules. USDA seems to be interpreting the law differently from Congress’ intent. So we have some work to do in that regard, but I’m confident we can come together as an industry and solve this problem.

What are you anticipating when you attend the TCGA annual meeting in Lubbock?

Producers and ginners are some of the most optimistic people I know of. I think there will be a lot of folks attending our meeting, and I think they’re looking for somebody to give them some good news. Even in tough times, we’re always looking on the bright side of things. I think that’s what makes our industry so special.

Contact Ron Craft at New-Tex Gin in Plains, Texas, at (806) 456-4075.

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