By Tommy Horton, Editor
It suddenly dawned on me recently that there is a lot of history in the Cotton Consultant of the Year (CCOY) program. That is a natural conclusion to reach when you consider that this program – co-sponsored by Cotton Farming and Sygnenta – has been around since 1981. That means 34 different industry leaders have been honored during this period of time.
As I was walking around a crowded room at the CCOY reception at the Beltwide Cotton Conferences in San Antonio, that thought was reinforced everywhere I turned. It’s a good thing everybody was wearing a name tag. Otherwise, it would have been difficult identifying so many friends. I recognized the faces, but the name tags made it much easier to connect with each person.
Then I realized that I had interviewed and photographed 14 of the winners, and that covers a lot of time. The years fly by way too fast in this business, but no amount of time will make me forget about how each consultant in our industry fulfills an important mission. This is a fraternity that is as strong as any you’ll find in the cotton industry. Even though many consultants only see some of their colleagues a couple of times a year at national meetings, they maintain a strong friendship that endures through the years.
What is interesting about cotton consultants is that their jobs are even more important today than ever before. They have to adapt rapidly to changing environments in cotton production. Who could’ve thought that cotton consultants would have to learn how to advise farmers about corn, wheat and soybeans in recent years? With crop mixes changing rapidly in the Mid-South, it was simply something they had to deal with.
There was even a time when some industry observers thought consultants’ jobs would be de-emphasized in this era of rapidly changing technology. But, guess what? The exact opposite has happened. Farmers need all the help they can find in making important and timely decisions during a crop year. Consequently, consultants are re-inventing the meaning of the word “multi-tasking.” They are absolutely indispensable in today’s production agriculture world.
And if you’ve ever attended one of the CCOY award receptions, you know the emotional bond that exists within this group. Being a consultant is not a 9 to 5 job. Far from it. This career is a lifetime investment in an industry. If you don’t believe that statement, you should have heard some of the impromptu testimonials given by fellow consultants after 2014 CCOY winner Stan Winslow was honored. Each person spoke about his or her connection to Stan, but they also shared memories of how fellow consultants had helped them through the years. I have witnessed these CCOY events since 2000, and I never get tired of hearing consultants talk about their love for the cotton industry and each other.
They all share a common bond of friendship and are dedicated to their farmer-customers. Here’s to many more years of wonderful experiences and memories with cotton consultants. They are simply the best folks you could ever have as friends.