Cotton Marketer, Cotton Specialist Of The Year Honored At Beltwide

At the 2023 Beltwide Cotton Conferences, BASF sponsored two prestigious professional awards: Cotton Marketer and Cotton Specialist of the Year. Arkansas cotton grower Joe Mencer was named Cotton Marketer of the Year and Dr. Murilo Maeda, assistant professor and Extension cotton specialist from Texas A&M University AgriLife Extension, in Lubbock, Texas, was named the 2023 Cotton Specialist of the Year.

Cotton Marketer Of The Year

The Joseph J. O’Neill Cotton Marketer of the Year award presented by ICE Futures (formerly the New York Cotton Exchange) and BASF dates back to 1991.

Third-generation Arkansas farmer and Cotton Marketer of the Year Award winner Joe Mencer (left) pictured with O.A. Cleveland, professor emeritus, Agricultural Economics at Mississippi State University.

Joe Mencer is this year’s award winner. Mencer is a third-generation farmer and has been farming since 1979 when he started his operation in Lake Village, Arkansas, with 125 acres of rice on his father and uncle’s land. Mencer had been working for his family since he was old enough to drive the equipment used on their farm. Today, Mencer grows 1,800 acres of cotton, 1,800 acres of rice, 1,000 acres of corn and 2,400 acres of soybeans. He also manages 1,600 acres of timber across Arkansas and Mississippi.

“Mencer has been doing this a long time, and he understands all aspects of the business, which goes beyond just growing the crop itself,” said Jerry Ford, BASF area manager. “Marketing and sharing knowledge of the product, along with the production of the product are a huge part of our industry, a part that Mencer has taken pride in and woven into his business fluidly.”

Mencer runs a family business with the help of his wife and two sons. His younger son runs a trucking company that hauls the cotton and grain for the farm, while his older son has a law degree and assists with all legal matters for the operation. Mencer is also heavily involved in many agriculture boards and committees, including the Arkansas Boll Weevil Board, representing Arkansas on the National Boll Weevil Board, the USA Rice and Arkansas Rice boards, the Arkansas Ag Council, the local NRCS Board, and the local Farm Bureau Board and Delta ACA Farm Credit Board. 

Cotton Specialist Of The Year

Voted on by cotton specialists in the 17 states where cotton is grown, this highly esteemed award is based on several considerations, including exceptional leadership and outstanding industry service. 

Hunter Frame (left), Virginia Tech and Beltwide Cooperative Extension Cotton Specialists president, joins Dr. Murilo Maeda, Texas Extension cotton specialist — Cotton Specialist of the Year Award winner.

Dr. Maeda works as a Texas Extension cotton specialist. He has been in the cotton industry his entire life, growing up in Brazil on his family’s cotton farm. Maeda came to the United States in 2010 to pursue his master’s degree in agronomy and crop physiology in 2012 and his doctoral degree in agronomy and crop physiology in 2015 from Texas A&M University. In 2018, he made his debut in Extension. Maeda was the recipient of the 2021 Dr. J. Tom Cothren Outstanding Young Cotton Physiologist Award.

“Along with solid field knowledge, Dr. Maeda also brought an excellent focus in technology, specifically into drone use for producers,” said Kenny Melton, BASF Agronomic Services Manager. “He does a great job bringing West Texas producers into the 21st century and beyond. Not only does he bring the technological knowledge needed to make advancements, but he also does a great job explaining what he is doing and why so producers can have a baseline knowledge as well.”

Maeda recently accepted a full-time position with BASF as its breeding technology manager. Along with his wife and two children, he will be moving back to Brazil to use his focus on drones and the sensing industry to work on BASF’s cotton breeding business in Brazil.

BASF contributed this article.

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