Reminiscing about memorable events in our lives can either be pleasant or painful – depending on how we remember those experiences. No matter what description is used, we are supposed to be wiser moving forward after such “character building events.” Suddenly, we have insight into the future because of what we’ve witnessed.
If a person truly believes in that philosophy, he can appreciate how Arkansas producer-ginner Larry McClendon feels today. Not to sound overly sentimental, but he has seen it all during the past two years. It was a journey like no other, but he is glad to have had the chance to go on it.
And what did he do that was so historic or memorable? For openers, he was chairman of the National Cotton Council in 2008 and NCC board chairman in 2009. He was the point man for the cotton industry during some of the most important events in recent ag history – the 2008 Farm Bill debate and WTO negotiations, to name a couple of the more noteworthy ones.
As if that weren’t enough to fill up his schedule, he is also a producer and ginner in Marianna, Ark. As you’ll see after reading our cover story on pages 14, 16 and 17, Larry has an infectious smile and always sees the glass as half full. In other words, it is hard for him to be anything but upbeat about the future.
This kind of attitude comes from a cotton leader who was simply trying to make a contribution to the industry he loves. However, take it from those who worked with him during 2008. He made more than a contribution. His pragmatic and cool-headed demeanor served him well when he had face-to-face meetings with adversaries and friends on Capitol Hill.
Whether he was in Geneva, Switzerland, at a WTO meeting or making countless courtesy calls in the Senate and House, he found common ground in his conversations. Maybe it’s that disarming, easy-going Arkansas personality. Whatever it was, it worked.
Then, there was the nightmare that occurred in the fall of 2009 when torrential rains pounded the Mid-South for most of September and October. More than half of his cotton, corn and soybean crops were damaged. By his own admission, it was the “most challenging year” he has had in 35 years of farming.
As he would later say, perseverance has a way of helping a person get through any difficult situation. Larry has had time to reflect on that historic year as NCC chairman, and he has put the memory of last fall’s crop season behind him. Now he’s rested and rejuvenated.
He looks ahead to something that always excites him – getting ready to plant the next cotton crop.
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