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Industry News — September 2020

Cotton Board Recommends Budget, Elects Officers

jimmy webb

Jimmy Webb

During The Cotton Board’s recent virtual 2020 Annual Meeting, board members serving on the Cotton Research and Promotion Program recommended a 2021 budget of $80 million. This reflects a decrease of more than $8 million from 2020.

The board’s consumer marketing division will see the largest budget decrease.

However, the 2021 Cotton Incorporated plan remains focused on key issues and addresses immediate challenges to increase market share and restore long-term profitability to the industry. Priorities include sustainability, product innovation, farm profitability, cottonseed value and lint contamination.

During its business session, The Cotton Board also elected new officers, including Jimmy Webb — a cotton producer from Leary, Georgia — to serve as chairman for the 2020-21 program year.

“It is such an honor to be elected as chairman of The Cotton Board,” he says. “I know the year ahead will have its challenges as we work through the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic. Fortunately, we have managed our resources well the past several years and are well positioned to help rebuild cotton’s marketing chain. The program will have to remain flexible over the next year as threats, opportunities and budget-related factors are more difficult to predict at this time.”

Here is the full slate of newly elected Cotton Board officers.

• Jimmy Webb, producer from Leary, Georgia, chairman.

• Sonja Chapman, importer from Boonton, New Jersey, vice chairman.

• Mark Nichols, producer from Altus, Oklahoma, secretary.

• Akiko Inui, importer from New York City, New York, treasurer.

UCCE Webinar: Raising The Value Of California Cotton

California cotton farmers produce a high-quality product but currently take in only 62 cents per pound, a price that makes turning a profit challenging.

The University of California Cooperative Extension is working with a team of soil health and fiber sustainability experts to offer an online workshop from 9 a.m.-noon, Sept. 17, that will explore ways to increase cotton’s value. Speakers will share new soil-building practices and ideas for marketing the crop’s sustainable production system to make California cotton more valuable to consumers.

“Buyers and markets are paying attention to sustainability, climate change mitigation and protecting natural resources,” says UCCE cropping systems specialist Jeff Mitchell. “We want to seize the moment for cotton.”

Rebecca Burgess of Fibershed and Cala Rose Ostrander of the People, Land and Life Foundation will discuss what clothing and textile brands are interested in and what they may be willing to pay in support of healthy soil management systems for California cotton.

Three cotton farmers — Gary Martin of Mendota, John Teixeira of Firebaugh and Cannon Michael of Los Banos — will share their motivations and experiences with cotton soil health management approaches.

David Lamm, former Natural Resources Conservation Service national soil health coordinator and now part of the Soil Health Institute in Greensboro, North Carolina, will share experiences from the Southern U.S. cotton belt to improve soil health.

The program also includes a discussion about long-term soil management research conducted at the UC West Side Research and Extension Center in Five Points by UC Davis doctoral student Geoff Koch and Mitchell.

Registration for the general public is $10; registration is free for farmers. To register, visit http://ucanr.edu/sjvcottonwebinar.

Irrigation Purchase Announced

Valley Irrigation has acquired PrecisionKing, a Mississippi-based ag tech company with products focused on moisture monitoring, pump control and remote sensing, especially of flood irrigation.

“(This acquisition) strengthens our footprint in the Mississippi Delta region and brings additional, talented team members on board. It opens additional doors into other methods of irrigation, such as flood,” says Darren Siekman, vice president of water delivery and business development for Valley. “And it further expands our industry-best network of connected devices.”

Founded in 2014, PrecisionKing offers products including DecisionKing (moisture monitoring), PumpKing (remote pump control), RiceKing (water level monitoring), PivotKing (remote pivot control) and ClimateKing (weather monitoring).

“We are very excited for this opportunity,” says Daniel Cole, a partner in PrecisionKing. “Valley is the industry leader in sales, service and technology, and we would not have made any move that we didn’t think would benefit our customers in the long term. Aligning with the global strength of the Valley brand will enable us to better serve growers in the Delta region and beyond, while keeping the local touch that they’re used to.”

For more information, please visit www.precisionking.net.

Louisiana Agriculture Hall Of Distinction Inductees

Four icons of agriculture were inducted into the Louisiana Agriculture Hall of Distinction during a ceremony Aug. 6 at the L’Auberge Hotel in Baton Rouge.

The four are Jay Hardwick, a Newellton row crop farmer, who also grows cotton; James Barnett, a forestry researcher from Pineville; John Denison, a rice, crawfish and cattle farmer from Iowa; and Calvin Viator, an agricultural crop consultant from Thibodaux.

Hardwick began his career teaching art at the university level. A fortuitous set of circumstances found him on the family farm of his wife, Mary, in Tensas Parish. It was here the allure of farming engulfed him.

“In an academic setting where I came from, control is everything,” Hardwick says. “You have an air-conditioned environment. Mother Nature is completely unpredictable. But that’s part of the seductive quality of farming that I completely enjoy to this day.”

Hardwick is not from the South, and he didn’t start out with roots in farming. With his induction, he considers it being accepted into the Louisiana farming community.

“I wasn’t born in Louisiana,” he says. “I feel like this is my citizenship. This recognition has made me feel very much a part of Louisiana in a way that I haven’t been full before. I am part of the Louisiana family.”

Barnett was raised in the Ouachita mountains of Arkansas and spent nearly five decades with the U.S. Forest Service. One of his first duties with the Forest Service focused on increasing the survivability of seedlings used to replenish clear-cut areas.

Denison, a third-generation farmer, has played key roles in the Louisiana Rice Research Board and Louisiana Farm Bureau and served more than 30 years on the Calcasieu Parish School Board. His career in farming fulfilled a life-long dream.

Viator has had two successful careers. His first involved teaching agricultural classes at Nicholls State University for 30 years.

During this time, he launched his second career that he continues to perform today: an agricultural consulting business in the heart of Louisiana’s sugarcane belt.

Since its creation seven years ago, 22 people have been inducted into the Louisiana Agriculture Hall of Distinction.

It recognizes individuals who have made significant contributions to agriculture and agriculture-related industries in Louisiana.

OK Requires Boll-Weevil-Free Certification From Texas

Texas bollweevil mapBrenda Osborne, director of the Oklahoma Boll Weevil Organization, based at Altus, says a difficult battle with the boll weevil still rages in South Texas.

“We all need to do our part in keeping this pest from resurfacing in our state,” she says. “Cotton harvesting equipment entering Oklahoma from two eradication areas in Texas has to be certified as boll weevil free prior to movement into our state.

“Please contact the Texas Boll Weevil Eradication Foundation before departure from these two areas. This will allow TBWEF to inspect the equipment. A U.S. Department of Agriculture-Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service phytosanitary certificate is issued and is required before equipment can be transported from these areas. These ONLY include the Lower Rio Grande Valley Eradication Zone or the East Texas Maintenance Area.

“This is critical to meet USDA-APHIS requirements and prevent the reinfestation of boll weevils into eradicated areas. It is illegal to move non-certified cotton harvesting equipment from these areas into the state of Oklahoma.”

Contact the TBWEF at 325-672-2800 or after hours and weekends at 325-668-7361. Contact John Lamb, Frederick office, at 580-335-7760 or cell 580-305-1930 for the following Oklahoma counties: Tillman, Cotton, Comanche, Atoka, Bryan and Stephens. Contact Brenda Osborne, Altus office, at 580-477-4287 or cell 580-471-79632 for all other Oklahoma counties.