By Roger Carter
It was with both pride and sorrow when Tommy Horton email-ed me and asked if I would write the My Turn column for this edition of Cotton Farming – given that I am being forced to retire after 48 years of doing nothing but agricultural consulting every year since 1964.
The Lord has given me two warnings – bypass surgery six years ago and a stroke this past February –- to nudge me in the right direction. Every day that I get closer to calling it my last in consulting, the anxiety level increases. And the tears flow. I know no other job, although I have done a little extra here and there, including farming and ginning, but 99 percent of my time was spent consulting – whether winter or summer.
What is more amazing is that Lise’, my wife of nearly 40 years, has stayed with me through the worst, and together we look forward to the best.
As most consultants know, we don’t make enough money on which to retire. Luckily, Lise’ received a nest egg and is going to allow me to share it with her for the rest of our lives in Navarre, Fla. It’s not the cotton capital of the South, but close enough to the cotton in Florida, Alabama and Georgia that if I were to become weak and decided I needed to be back in a cotton field, I could find one fairly quickly.
As stressful as this profession has been on me personally, it has also been very rewarding. All of the friends we have are consultants, clients, dealers or chemical reps. They are part of our family. And, I know that each day I will miss not being able to drop by and have a cup of coffee at a dealer’s office or meet some of the reps at the AMS office. Sure, there are a couple I have thrown out of the office, but I probably did what someone else should have done.
Our clients are more than just that; they are close family. I have known some of our current clients since they were in diapers. And, some of us have grown old together and have a lifelong bond.
The changes I have seen in 48 years were immense, but not nearly as immense as the previous generation witnessed. Most of the changes that occurred during my tenure in agriculture were for the best, but the most important change is not good. Agriculture has lost its voice in Washington and its ability to make it known that while the United States can probably fight for oil and precious metals, it cannot force its will on others to raise food and fiber for it.
There are way too many folks to thank for the support I have been given over the years, but I would be ignorant not to mention first and foremost my wife, Lise’, and associates – Tim White, Walter Myers, Matt Myers and Wil Miller, without whose help and dedication my time in this business would have ended several years ago. It is comforting to know that I will be leaving our AMS clients in the hands of four of the most conscientious, insightful and competent consultants who have dedicated their lives to the profession. Thanks also to my son, Anthony, for forgiving me for not spending more time sharing with him in his youth. And to all the support I have received from friends at the Louisiana Agricultural Consultants Association and the National Alliance of Independent Crop Consultants. I have also had unequaled support from two special friends, Ray and Dorothy Young.
To Cotton Farming magazine, especially Carroll Smith and Tommy Horton, for your continuing support of agricultural consultants. Thanks, Tommy, for giving me this chance to say “Good-bye,” but don’t be surprised if I show up on a turnrow somewhere.
It’s been a grand ride. I can now take the time to smell the flowers rather than noting the plant bug nymphs present in them. I will part with the words that our clients love to hear or read, “No application!”
– Roger Carter, Clayton, La.