• By Stacey Gorman,
Cotton Board Director of Communications •
The Cotton Board’s “Forever Cotton” campaign offers a glimpse into the lives of some of the people who wear, cook with and grow cotton. The campaign illustrates what cotton means for producers and consumers and showcases the far-reaching impact the Cotton Research and Promotion Program has on people’s lives.
During the 2018 harvest season, The Cotton Board and a camera crew visited Matt Farmer in West Texas to chronicle the story of his family farming operation in Lamesa. The story that emerged highlights the sustainability of their land from generation to generation, the pride of their family’s farming legacy, and their approach to producing more fiber and more seed with fewer inputs.
Farmer Family Legacy
Madison “Matt” Farmer and his wife, Dianne, have been farming for more than 30 years. Their operation consists of about 10,000 acres spreading across three counties in Texas. They have irrigated and dryland cotton acreage and also grow wheat, peanuts and milo.
The Farmers currently run their operation with their son-in-law Garron Morgan — a first-generation farmer. Matt’s father-in-law, Arvis Woodell, was the second generation to farm the land. Woodell retired in 1991 and turned the family farm over to Matt and Dianne.
“Farming is all I ever knew, and I thought it was a great way of life,” says Woodell. “I’m so proud of my family for following in my footsteps.”
Matt Farmer says, “In family farms, there can be a lot of pressure. I want to continue to build on what Arvis and his granddaddy built, and then make sure there’s something for me to pass on to my children and grandchildren.
Dianne echoes Matt’s sentiment, saying, “We’ve tried to raise our kids with a lot of faith and a lot of pride in who they were and what they did, and pride in this land of which God allows us to be caretakers.”
Cotton Incorporated’s Agricultural and Environmental Research Department works alongside growers to spur innovation and foster sustainability, so new generations of farming families can continue walking the same turnrows. In fact, Cotton Incorporated funds an average of 400 ag research projects each year.
“I was sharing with somebody the other day that a lot of times out here on the farm, you get to feeling like you’re on an island or you’re alone,” Farmer says. “And then you realize all the people you actually have working for you through Cotton Incorporated.”
Matt was one of the first producers in his area to adopt the practice of no-till farming, having started on their irrigated cotton in the mid-1990s.
“Where we have implemented no-till, it’s amazing to see the organic matter that has built up in the soil. It’s funny, what I’m planting into now I would have gotten rid of 10 years ago, just to make my cotton plant prettier. But we’ve learned it’s more important to protect the soil and hold our moisture.”
Farmer plans to start implementing no-till on his dryland. At the end of the 2018 season, they over-seeded their dryland fields with rye and then terminated the rye to help capture spring moisture. This year, they will plant right into that dryland cover crop.
“There’s a million things you can put on that cotton crop to try and make it better,” Farmer says. “But the advice my daddy gave me a long time ago is the best thing you can put on your cotton crop is your shadow. Cotton Incorporated understands that growers need to be in the field and are directly investing more than $13 million in 2019 into agricultural and environmental research.”
The Forever Cotton national campaign is running in both print and digital media. The video series featuring the Farmer family can be viewed on The Cotton Board’s website, and Facebook and YouTube pages.
To learn more, email Gorman at firstname.lastname@example.org.