MEMPHIS, TN – The late W.L. "Billy" Carter, Jr., who served as the North Carolina Cotton Producers Association's executive vice president and was a former American Cotton Producers chairman, is the recipient of the 2011 Oscar Johnston Lifetime Achievement Award.His widow, Beverly, and her daughter, Beth Burchell, accepted the honor on February 12 at the National Cotton Council's 2012 annual meeting in Fort Worth.
The annual award, established in 1997, is named for Oscar Johnston, whose vision, genius and tireless efforts were foremost in the organization of and shaping of the NCC. The award is presented to an individual, now deceased, who served the cotton industry, through the NCC, over a significant period of his or her active business career. The award also recognizes those who exerted a positive influence on the industry and who demonstrated character and integrity as well as perseverance and maturation during that service.
Carter was born and raised in a farming family, where from an early age he developed a strong work ethic and love of the land. He and his wife, Beverly, owned and operated Carter Farms, in Scotland Neck, NC, for more than 30 years. At the time of his death, he was serving as a deacon of First Baptist Church of Scotland Neck and was chairman of its finance committee.
Carter was closely involved in the agricultural organizations at the state, regional and national levels. He held numerous leadership positions with the NCC. For more than 20 years, he served as a producer delegate. In that time, he also served on the NCC's Board for six years. He chaired the American Cotton Producers from 1992-93 and was elected the NCC's secretary-treasurer in 2001. He served as an advisor to the NCC's Board of Directors from 2005-10.
In addition to these leadership positions, Carter chaired the NCC's Finance Committee and the International Trade Policy Committee. He served as the chairman of the American Cotton Producers Farm Policy Task Force and was vice chairman of the Committee for the Advancement of Cotton Steering Committee.
Carter also had leadership positions with Cotton Incorporated, Southern Cotton Growers and the North Carolina Boll Weevil Foundation. He was a member of the Agricultural Advisory Board for College of Agricultural and Life Sciences at North Carolina State University.
Constantly engaged in promoting and protecting U.S. cotton's interests, Carter served as a member of the USDA Agricultural Trade Advisory Committee for Cotton, Peanuts, Planting Seeds and Tobacco for more than 10 years. As the co-chairman of that committee, he was a member of the U.S. delegation to the Seattle Round of Multilateral Trade Negotiations.
In 2002, Carter became the North Carolina Cotton Producers Association's executive vice president. Using his farming experience and his many years of leadership with other organizations, he effectively represented North Carolina cotton producers' interests.
That organization's leaders readily attest to what Carter brought to the job and the great respect he garnered, not just from those in North Carolina, but from leaders in all Cotton Belt regions.
Previous Oscar Johnston Lifetime Achievement Award recipients are: William Garrard, first general manager of Greenwood, MS-based Staplcotn Cooperative; Sykes Martin, a Courtland, AL, producer; Walter Montgomery, Sr., a Spartanburg, SC, textile manufacturer; William Rhea Blake, a former NCC executive vice president; Roger Malkin, long-time chairman and CEO of Delta and Pine Land Company, Scott, MS; former NCC presidents, George C. Cortright, Jr., a Rolling Fork, MS, producer; Jack Hamilton, a Lake Providence, LA, producer/ginner/warehouseman; Lon Mann, a Marianna, AR, ginner; Jack McDonald, Decatur, IL, cottonseed crusher; Charles Youngker, a Buckeye, AZ, producer; and former NCC chairman James E. Echols, a Memphis, TN, merchant. Echols was the first to occupy the position of NCC chairman after the NCC changed the organization's top position to chairman.