Cotton Links

- Q&A -

Curtis Griffith Reflects On
An Evolving Industry


EDITOR’S NOTE – Curtis Griffith of Lubbock, Texas, has been in the banking and ginning business since 1973. In 2007, the Texas Cotton Ginners’ Association named him “Ginner of the Year.” Last month, the National Cotton Ginners bestowed the same honor on him. In this interview with Cotton Farming, he looks back on an industry that has changed dramatically during his lifetime.

How do you manage to have enough time to be involved in both banking and ginning?

Somehow we find time for the important things in our lives. It’s not a magical thing as far as time management. I’m just surrounded by a lot of good folks at the gin and the bank.

Why is it important to support industry trade associations such as the Texas Cotton Ginners, National Cotton Ginners and National Cotton Council?

We have some talented folks working for these organizations. There is no way a ginner could afford, on his own, to hire these people to represent us in Washington or Austin. It’s our duty to communicate with industry associations to give them input on key issues.

Do producers and ginners have a greater appreciation for what all these organizations do for the cotton industry?

Definitely. Just being around producers and ginners the last few years, I can tell how much our industry better understands what our associations do on a daily basis. They’ve come to accept the fact that it’s a tough world out there, and we’re in a battle.

How difficult is this battle?

Many organizations are out there crying that there are better ways to spend tax dollars than by supporting farm programs. There’s also a lot of misinformation being spread about our programs. These folks are blowing their horns very loud. And I haven’t even mentioned the foreign governments who constantly attack the structure of American agriculture. We need advocates for agriculture who will stand up for us and help maintain stability in our industry.

Do agriculture and cotton, in particular, continue to have friends in Washington?

We don’t have the strength in numbers that we once had, but we still have plenty of friends in Congress. And we’re thankful they’ve been there for us during important Farm Bill debates. I can assure you that we’ll always be there for them, as well.

Are you surprised at how the High Plains area has begun delivering such high yields and quality in its cotton production?

It is absolutely wonderful what’s happening in our region of Texas. The genetic improvements in our cotton have been tremendous. When you couple that with boll weevil eradication, cultural practices and better performing picker varieties, it’s created a beautiful picture on the High Plains.

How far has the High Plains come in the last 10 or 15 years in terms of yields and quality?

When I think about where we were 10 or 15 years ago and realize how input costs have gone up recently, there are plenty of us who might not be in the cotton business today. That’s what these better yields and quality have done for us. They haven’t made us rich, but they’ve kept us going.

As a banker and ginner, how important is the relationship between ag lenders and producers in your area?

Partnerships are important in any industry. And that certainly goes for bankers and producers. Out here in West Texas, we’re all in this together. At the end of the day, the economy across this region depends on the amount of money that farmers are able to receive for the crops they grow. It’s still the driving force.

Are you surprised at how the ginning industry has evolved in five decades?

I’ve seen a lot of things. That’s for sure. The development of technology has revolutionized this industry on the farm and at the gin. The only downside to this trend has been the consolidation. There simply aren’t as many farm families out there, and obviously we don’t have as many gins. But production is still very high.

The theme of this year’s TCGA annual meeting is ‘Delivering Quality To The World.’ That would appear to be an appropriate theme, considering what has happened on the High Plains.

No matter what business you’re in today or what product you’re selling, if you’re not at the top in quality, the market won’t support you for very long. The rest of the world knows the kind of cotton quality we have on the High Plains, and that gives me a lot of hope for the future.

Contact Curtis Griffith at (806) 525-4342 or cgriffith@citybanktexas.com.


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