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Editor’s Blog

Dan Krieg Leaves Legacy Of Generosity

Tommy Horton

If there is one obvious personality trait that all cotton industry folks have, it’s generosity. When time is precious for everyone, it’s nice to know that farmers, merchants, marketing cooperatives, warehousemen, manufacturers, ginners and cottonseed representatives always are willing to share information. Or, at least, it seems that way to me. Maybe I’m being naïve. But I rarely run across someone from the industry today who isn’t willing to lend a helping hand. Nobody will share company secrets, but there is a common thread of generosity that runs through this industry. And a perfect example of this kindness was the late Dan Krieg, a Texas cotton farmer who wore many hats – including 35 years as a Texas Tech University professor. Dan, a long-time friend of Cotton Farming magazine, passed away earlier this summer at the age of 72. Read More »

Can We Learn From History?

Tommy Horton

Are there things about history that can help us today? Or is it better to stay in the present and concentrate only on the future? I ask myself those questions a lot these days as the U.S. cotton industry tries to chart a path toward better prices, increased acreage and more demand in global markets. Not surprisingly, I was thumbing through some old issues of Cotton Farming recently and came across the January 2003 issue, and it made me think about the environment we were in 12 years ago. On the cover is a photo of Memphis merchant Billy Dunavant, manufacturer Duke Kimbrell of Parkdale Mills and Mississippi producer Kenneth Hood. They were standing in front of the National Cotton Council offices in Memphis, and the theme of that issue was “Industry Unity.” I can vividly recall the day that we took that photo and the ensuing roundtable interview that occurred inside the NCC’s offices. We were lucky to bring together three industry giants that day. The weather cooperated and allowed us to take the photo outside the iconic NCC building in midtown Memphis. Read More »

The Effectiveness of COTTON LEADS

Tommy Horton

Several years ago, I attended a press briefing at the Beltwide Cotton Conferences to hear about a new venture called COTTON LEADS, and it was an intriguing concept, to say the least. At the time, it sounded extremely ambitious, and many attendees wondered if such a project could achieve its goal of bringing together the U.S. and Australian cotton industry as well as retail partners – all in an effort to promote best management practices and traceability in the cotton supply chain. It also was deemed an important initiative to help cotton regain market share. Here we are today, and nobody can question how successful this venture has been in such a short time period. More than 300 participants are now on board, and it’s an interesting group that includes yarn spinners, textile/apparel manufacturers, brands and retailers. What makes this program so unique is that there is no cost or certification attached to it. Partners voluntarily participate because they see the need for cotton to tell its story to a global audience. Many objectives can be achieved by COTTON LEADS – and that in itself is the beauty of the process. Read More »

Strong Leadership Brightens Cotton Industry’s Future

Tommy Horton

Call me sentimental or predictably nostalgic, but it is always good to see many of my friends moving on to leadership positions in the cotton industry. In fact, that is one of this industry’s strengths. Strong leaders continue to emerge and are helping U.S. cotton survive through some difficult times. As I was reading about Kevin Brinkley being named the new president and chief executive officer of Plains Cotton Cooperative Association, I couldn’t help but remember those days when we worked together at the National Cotton Council between 1990 and 1998. Kevin was an excellent economist and benefited by working with Economic Services Director Mark Lange for a decade. Then, he and I went our separate ways. I joined Cotton Farming magazine in 1999, and Kevin moved on to The Seam 15 years later. He became an important part of that company’s growth as the world’s first completely online, neutral exchange for cotton trading. Read More »

A Trip To Texas Is Always Special

Tommy Horton

One of my favorite trips of the year is about to occur, and it promises to be just as rewarding as the previous ones of the past decade. It’s the Cotton Farming staff’s annual trek to Lubbock, Texas, for the Texas Cotton Ginners’ Association Annual Meeting and Trade Show. For more than 20 years, our magazine has co-sponsored this show, and to say that it has been a rewarding experience doesn’t really say it all. Through the years, we have cultivated many friends in the country’s No. 1 cotton production state. Whether it’s producers, ginners, equipment manufacturers or friends of the industry. What makes this trip so rewarding is that we also get to attend the Plains Cotton Growers’ annual meeting, which is conducted on Friday, April 10, at the Lubbock Civic Center. It’s a jam-packed two days at the trade show, plus meetings in the Civic Center as well as the Overton Hotel just five minutes away. It seems that the Texas cotton industry has had to deal with a different kind of issue every year, but this group of farmers and ginners always finds a way to survive the crisis. For the past three years, a persistent drought has created the biggest challenge of all. But, as many had predicted, the drought seems to have subsided, and steady rainfall patterns have moved through all parts of the state in the last two or three months. Read More »

Optimism Was Observed At Mid-South Farm/Gin Show

Tommy Horton

If you thought you’d find some gloom and doom at the Mid-South Farm & Gin Show in Memphis, you were probably shocked. Producers, ginners and industry representatives have chosen to take the high road in dealing with low cotton prices. Yes, this Beltwide trend is a major concern – especially in the Mid-South where acreage shifts are more common. And, yes, acres will be reduced in this five-state area to one of the lowest levels we’ve seen in years…1.1 million acres. That’s a 26 percent drop compared to 2014. What we saw and heard wasn’t a doomsday attitude. Far from it. What we observed were glimmers of hope as prices creeped up into the mid-60 cent range. Industry experts such as Memphis merchant Joe Nicosia hit on some of the familiar themes in his presentation at the Ag Update. He said China controls much of what might happen in the next few years in terms of US cotton exports. But he said producers can deal with this environment if they embrace cotton as an important crop... Read More »

NCC Annual Meeting Evokes Memories

Tommy Horton

OK, I’ll admit that I am overly sentimental and nostalgic about events from the past. It doesn’t matter whether we’re talking about high school, college, old neighborhoods, careers or anything else. There is something very entertaining and special when we reminisce about our past. And as we prepare for the National Cotton Council’s Annual Meeting at the Peabody Hotel here in Memphis on Feb. 6-8, I can’t help but recall the first NCC Annual Meeting I attended in January of 1986 in Orlando, Fla. The industry and NCC have changed a lot since those days, but it’s interesting how first impressions stay with us for a lifetime. That is how it was 29 years ago. I had only worked in the NCC Communications Department for less than six months when I made the trip to this meeting. Naturally, I was a bit apprehensive since I didn’t know that many people in the industry. However, before this meeting ended, I found that my circle of friends would increase dramatically – mainly because cotton people might be the most congenial folks in the world. Read More »