The cotton industry has a way of being at its best when it faces a crisis of any kind. Whether it’s a legislative battle in Congress, dealing with disaster assistance due to weather conditions or staying competitive in the global market, the leadership has always been there to deliver for all segments of the industry. And nowhere is that leadership more noticeable than in Texas, the Belt’s largest cotton-producing state.
In fairness to the other states, excellent industry leadership can be found across the country, and that is why U.S. cotton is so fortunate these days. No matter what the issue, you can find capable persons stepping forward to make sure cotton’s voice is heard.
However, I mention Texas in this discussion for several reasons. The state is coming off a recordbreaking drought last year that cut its cotton production by 50 percent. As outsiders have been hearing for months, not since the Dust Bowl days of the 1930s has Texas seen anything like this. It is critical that all regions of the state receive enough rainfall this year before planting begins.
Rainfall in the last few months is definitely ahead of last year’s pace, and that’s an encouraging sign. But soil moisture levels still have a long way to go to get back to normal.
Because of this scenario, the Texas cotton industry needs strong leaders who can help all sectors get through this economic challenge. These leaders can’t make it rain or guarantee high yields or high prices. They’re not magicians. But they can be at the forefront at a time when leadership is necessary. In our cover story this month, we spent some time with another Texas leader who served the last three years in important leadership positions with the National Cotton Council.
Producer Eddie Smith of Floydada was vice-chairman, chairman and board chairman for the NCC and committed a lot of time serving the industry’s interests while dealing with legislative and regulatory issues. As we found out in our conversation with Eddie, he led the NCC the way he does his own farm operation – with a steady hand and the ability to deal methodically with any crisis.
As you’ll find out in our cover story on pages 8, 9 and 10, Eddie even has a positive outlook in the aftermath of the drought of 2011. He proudly calls himself a farmer who “believes the glass is always half full instead of being half empty.” So, even though his operation took a financial hit in 2011, he has faith that things will be better in 2012. He says farmers have to think that way to survive in today’s volatile ag environment.
We couldn’t agree with him more.
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