The change in leadership at the National Cotton Council will be smooth and without any problems when the organization has its annual meeting at the Peabody Hotel in Memphis in February. Although no official announcement has been made, everyone in the industry has known for many months that economist Gary Adams would take over for retiring president and chief executive officer Mark Lange. As a matter of fact, when Lange announced his retirement nearly two years ago, it was a forgone conclusion that Adams would be the NCC’s new leader.
By announcing his retirement two years in advance, the NCC certainly had time to decide who would be Lange’s successor. But, in terms of transition and knowledge of the industry, the choice was obvious. Adams, who joined the Council in 2002, has been an effective spokesman for the industry on all issues pertaining to economic analysis. His major attribute is an ability to communicate complicated economic data in a way that is easily understood. That, in itself, is no easy task – especially when the most recent farm law became a reality.
If you’ve ever heard Adams deliver an economic report, you know that he has a calm demeanor that is effective in front of small or large audiences. Even when the economic numbers aren’t positive, Adams has a way of presenting the big picture in a way that makes it easier to absorb the numbers.
Even before he joined the NCC, he had already established himself as a respected economist after spending 13 years at the University of Missouri as a research professor in the Department of Agricultural Economics. His primary duties there included policy analysis for the Food and Agricultural Policy Institute (FAPRI).
Adams is more than an economist. He has had a front row seat for all policy issues that have confronted the NCC in the past 13 years. He has gained everyone’s respect because of an ability to engage and communicate with all seven segments of the cotton industry. In other words, he’s never met a stranger and is just as comfortable walking the halls of Congress, meeting with overseas ag officials or chatting with a producer in the middle of a cotton field.
While we congratulate Gary on his promotion, we also salute our friend Mark Lange on his well-deserved retirement. I first met Mark when he joined the Council in 1989 as the director of Economic Services. We will miss his candor and humor that were always on display at industry meetings. Mark has dealt with some of the toughest issues to confront the NCC and industry. Anybody who has engaged in Farm Bill battles and the Brazil/WTO case has earned the chance for retirement. No matter how busy he was, he always made time to talk to the ag media, and we could count on his answers to be direct and to the point.
Finally, in yet another big transition, we are bidding farewell to long-time NCC Washington vice president John Maguire next month. He is also retiring and will be replaced by Reece Langley of the USA Rice Federation. This should be another good transition because Maguire and Langley have worked together through the years on Farm Bills and other issues of mutual concern for the cotton and rice industries. Again, it’s hard to put into words what John has meant to the NCC and cotton industry. Nobody garnered more respect on Capitol Hill, and his knowledge of the legislative process is unmatched.
I feel fortunate to have worked with John and Mark through the years – both while I was at the National Cotton Council and later here at Cotton Farming magazine. I just hope I can chase down these friends on a golf course someday and enjoy more time with both of them – away from the pressures of the job. They will be truly missed.