Facing The Challenges

Southern Southeastern ANNUAL MEETING

By Carroll Smith

Southeast cotton producers and ginners gathered in Charlotte, N.C., prior to the beginning of the 2017 season to meet and share ideas about how to address important issues that affect the industry on regional, national and international levels.

Kent Fountain, president of Southeastern Cotton Ginners Association Inc., and David Dunlow, president of Southern Cotton Growers Inc., presided over the annual meeting. The theme for this year’s event was “Facing the Challenges.”
Of particular interest to Southeast attendees were cotton t-shirts that the staff passed out at the registration booth. The garments were made from 100 percent cotton grown in the Carolinas.

Dirt to Shirt
At the registration booth, attendees were given t-shirts whose origin could be tracked from “dirt to shirt” at whereyourclothing.com.

However, they are not just ordinary cotton t-shirts. They have unique color threads in the seams that serve as a “tracker” to show exactly where each shirt came from.

Consumers are encouraged to go to whereyourclothing.com to access the completely transparent supply chain. According to the website, “Not only do we give you the location, but a name, photo, address, and even a phone number for each member of the supply chain, from dirt to shirt.”

Variety Of Activities Offered
During the general session, Bruce Atherley, executive director, Cotton Council International, provided an update on the global cotton scene. Atherley noted that great interest is being garnered by cotton’s new hang tag: The Cotton The World Trusts. Consumers around the globe showed a preference for this tag over any of the others, he says. Cotton promotion efforts beyond our borders are critical to keeping U.S. cotton top-of-mind for global purchasers.

Dean Kight, Roanoke Cotton Co., LLC, Weldon, N.C., received the traditional gin saw after being named the 2016 Southeast Ginner of the Year.

Numerous breakout sessions addressed topics of interest for both producers and ginners. Included among them were discussions regarding future changes to crop insurance, cotton contamination and safety issues at the gin. Frank Gasparini, National Council of Agricultural Employers, Washington, D.C., talked about the status of immigration under the Trump administration, which has a direct affect on the agricultural labor pool.

Attendees visited the trade show, which showcased numerous products and services, and special awards were presented at the close of the event. Farmers and ginners also picked up useful information in what Fountain calls “hallway seminars” where everyone gathers to share their experiences and exchange ideas.

The Southern Southeastern Annual Meeting, which is always held early in the year, provides a regional forum in a relaxed venue in which the farming and ginning segments can gather to learn as well as enjoy fellowship. The 2018 meeting will be held Jan. 17-20 at the Marriott Grand Dunes in Myrtle Beach, S.C. Make plans now to attend!

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