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National Cotton Council periodically disseminates information such as news releases and articles in its newsletter, Cotton's Week, regarding Cotton Foundation projects, including progress reports and announcements of new special projects.

March 5, 2018
Contacts:  Cotton Nelson (901) 274-9030 or Ron Smith (214) 417-3169

2018 High Cotton Winners Recognized

MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Winners of the 2018 Farm Press-Cotton Foundation High Cotton Awards are: Nick McMichen, Centre, Ala.; brothers Joe and Jack Huerkamp, Macon, Miss.; Merlin Schantz, Hydro, Okla.; and Ron Rayner, Goodyear, Arizona. These cotton producers and their families were honored on March 3 at the Mid-South Farm & Gin Show in Memphis.
The High Cotton Awards were begun by Farm Press Publications and the National Cotton Council in 1994 to demonstrate that cotton growers and their families are concerned about the environment and are the true stewards of their land, air, and water.

The program, which now has recognized some 100 U.S. cotton producers, is supported by a Farm Press grant to The Cotton Foundation. The 2018 program was co-sponsored by Americot, AMVAC, Bayer Stoneville, Dow PhytoGen, Dyna-Gro, FMC, John Deere and Netafim.

The 2018 awards recipients employ water conservation, rotation, cover crops, on-farm trials and data collection as well as various technologies to improve efficiency and preserve their farms’ natural resources.

The Southeast winner, Nick McMichen, oversees a diversified operation of about 1,600 acres of cotton, 600 acres of soybeans, 400 acres of wheat, 300 acres of corn, and in 2017, for the first time, 160 acres of peanuts. With 500 acres under irrigation, including 60 acres of drip irrigation, McMichen has taken advantage of matching funds available through the Alabama legislature to install center pivots and construct a 12-acre reservoir to collect and store water for use during the growing season.

McMichen, who participates in the Conservation Stewardship Program, uses riparian buffers to protect streams on his property. He employs precision, data-based technology to apply variable rate seed, crop protectants and fertilizer.

Delta winners Joe and Jack Huerkamp farm separately, but the brothers’ production methods are similar. They both understand the importance of irrigation, and Joe has one 30-acre field with underground drip tape, which is rarely found in their Delta region, because he believes it can reduce water use and increase yields.

The Huerkamps’ sons farm as well.

Joe’s son, Tyler, probably has the first and only tailwater recovery irrigation system in Noxubee County, and their retention ponds catch and accumulate water through the winter. In 2017, 100 percent of the Huerkamps’ production ground was planted in cover crops which improve water retention and help prevent erosion, while improving soil health.

For Southwest winner Merlin Schantz, conservation is a family tradition of stewardship that he says is his privilege and responsibility.

“The Good Lord entrusted us with this farm, and to take care of His land,” he said. “We try to honor that gift.”

Crop rotation plays an important role in Schantz’ operation. That includes rotating cotton with peanuts, peppers, seed wheat, and soybeans or cowpeas, planting most of his irrigated cotton in no-till, and planting a cover crop on just about every acre. He notes that after three years of conservation tillage, his farmland’s organic matter has increased.

Far West recipient Ron Rayner and his family’s minimum tillage crop rotation system reduces water use and soil erosion, and saves on equipment, labor, and input costs. Launched in 1996, that system utilizes no-till planting after wheat harvest, crop rotation and border flood irrigation. It also has a conservation tillage component that includes: 1) continuous minimum mechanical soil disturbance, 2) permanent organic soil cover (plants or residue, and 3) diversification of crop species, grown in sequences that are beneficial.

Rayner’s two farms comprise 6,000 acres and include upland cotton, alfalfa, durum wheat and forage sorghum. Water use for cotton under the minimum-till, double-crop system for wheat and cotton grown in the same year dropped to 26 inches per crop (18 inches below the average).

May 4, 2018
Contact:  Cotton Nelson (901) 274-9030 or Marjory Walker

Emerging Leaders Program Participants Selected

emerging leaders
The Emerging Leaders Program participants met with lawmakers, their staffers and key government agency officials during their visit to Washington, DC.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Eleven U.S. cotton industry members have been chosen to participate in the National Cotton Council’s (NCC) Emerging Leaders Program for 2018-19. They are: PRODUCERS – Philip Edwards, III, Smithfield, VA; Mark Korn, Dyersburg, TN; Darryl Mendes, Riverdale, CA; and Reid Nichols, Altus, OK; GINNER – Tony Newton, Slaton, TX; MERCHANTS – Roberto Ferrer and Nick Peay, both of Cordova, TN; and Barret Folk, Houston, TX; WAREHOUSER – Jordan Grier, Taylor, TX; MARKETING COOPERATIVE – Chris McClain, Grenada, MS; and COTTONSEED – Amy West, Overland Park, KS.

Now in its 6th year, the NCC’s Emerging Leaders Program is supported by a grant to The Cotton Foundation from Monsanto.

Overall, the Emerging Leaders Program provides participants with a better understanding of how the NCC carries out its mission of ensuring the U.S. cotton industry’s seven segments can compete effectively and profitably in the raw cotton, oilseed and U.S.-manufactured product markets at home and abroad.

Specifically, participants get an in-depth look at: 1) the U.S. cotton industry infrastructure and the issues affecting the industry’s economic well-being; 2) the U.S. political process; 3) the NCC’s programs as well as its policy development and implementation process and 4) Cotton Council International’s activities aimed at developing and maintaining export markets for U.S. cotton, manufactured cotton products and cottonseed products.

The Emerging Leaders Program also provides participants with professional development and communications training such as presentation and business etiquette, instruction for engaging with the news media, and utilizing social media tools and tactics.

Class members will participate in three sessions. The first session, set for the week of June 17, 2018, in Memphis and St. Louis, will provide an orientation to the NCC, professional development, communication skills training, and an agribusiness briefing. During the second session, class members will see policy development at the NCC’s 2019 Annual Meeting in February. The third session, to be conducted later in 2019 in Washington, D.C., will provide a focus on policy implementation and international market development.

June 14, 2018
Contact:  T. Cotton Nelson (901) 274-9030 or Marjory Walker

Sunbelt Leaders to See Idaho Agriculture

MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Farmers from 14 states in the southern half of the nation will see agricultural production and processing operations in Idaho on June 24-29 as part of the National Cotton Council’s Multi-Commodity Education Program (MCEP).

Launched in 2006, the program is coordinated by NCC’s Member Services, and commodity association leadership. It is supported by The Cotton Foundation with a grant from John Deere.

The MCEP is designed to provide its participants with: 1) a better understanding of production issues/concerns faced by their peers in another geographic region, 2) observation of that region’s agronomic practices, technology utilization, cropping patterns, marketing plans and operational structure; and 3) tours of the region’s research facilities and its agricultural processing operations and related businesses relevant to the area economy.

NCC Chairman Ron Craft, a Plains, Texas, cotton ginner, said the Multi-Commodity Education Program is providing another important benefit of building much-needed unity among the current and future leaders of this nation’s No. 1 industry – agriculture.

“Regardless of where they farm in this country and what crops they produce, the program participants and their hosts gain a better understanding of the agronomic and economic challenges that affect U.S. agriculture’s ability to compete in today’s global marketplace,” Craft said.

The 2018 tour’s participants are: Keith Allen, Latta, S.C.; Dean Calvani, Carlsbad, N.M.; Clint Dunn, Itta Bena, Miss.; Rob Fleming, Scotland Neck, N.C.; Kent Goyen, Pratt, Kan.; Gary Hayes, Portageville, Mo.; Neal Isbell, Muscle Shoals, Ala.; George LaCour, Morganza, La.; Gary Martin, Firebaugh, Calif.; Dennis Palmer, Thatcher, Ariz.; Don Pearson, Jackson, Tenn.; Sam Whitaker, Monticello, Ark.; Austin White, Frederick, Okla.; and Wesley Spurlock, Stratford, Texas.

Karin Kuykendall, executive vice president of Rolling Plains Cotton Growers and executive director of Southern Rolling Plains Cotton Growers from Wall, Texas, also will participate. The group will be accompanied by John Gibson, director of the NCC’s Member Services in Memphis.

The tour, which is hosted and arranged by the Idaho Barley Commission and Idaho Grain Producers Association (IGPA), will begin on June 25 in Twin Falls with an overview of Idaho agriculture from staffers with IGPA and the Idaho State Department of Agriculture. During a visit to the College of Southern Idaho’s Trout Production Research Facility, the group will hear presentations on aquaculture research and commercial trout production as well as Amalgamated Sugar Company’s sugar beet GMO communications campaign. They also will visit the Twin Falls Canal Company for a presentation on “Resolving Idaho Water Battles” and tour the Si-Ellen Dairy Farms and Clear Springs Trout Farm.

On the 26th, the group will travel to Caribou County where they will see malt barley, wheat, seed potatoes and cattle production before visiting a cow-calf operation. They also will visit Monsanto for a phosphate mine tour.

The next day, the group will tour Wada Farms fresh potato packing plant near Aberdeen and participate in the Cereals Research Field Day hosted by the University of Idaho Aberdeen Research & Extension Center and the USDA Agricultural Research Service’s (ARS) National Small Grains & Potato Research Facility. They also will hear presentations on barley research and see the USDA-ARS National Small Grains Germplasm Collection. Also scheduled that day are a visit to a John Deere dealership in American Falls, a look at the American Falls dam and a tour of a local farm.

On the 28th, the group will tour the InteGrow Malt Plant in Idaho Falls and then travel to Dubois where they will see the Larsen Farms hay compaction facility and area crop production. They will observe a low energy sprinkler application irrigation system at Justin Place’s farm in Hamer, visit the Idahoan dehydrated potato plant in Lewisville and then conclude the tour with a look at barley, wheat, hay and potato production. That crop tour will be hosted by Dwight Little, president of both the IGPA and the National Barley Growers Association.

July 5, 2018
Contact:  T. Cotton Nelson (901) 274-9030 or Marjory Walker

2018 P.I.E. Program Tour Dates Set

MEMPHIS, Tenn. – The National Cotton Council (NCC) has scheduled tour dates and locations for the 2018 Producer Information Exchange (P.I.E.) Program.

Now in its 30th year, the program has enabled more than 1,100 U.S. cotton producers to go to Cotton Belt regions different than their own where they learn about their peers’ innovative production practices.

Sponsored by Bayer through a grant to The Cotton Foundation, the P.I.E. program has a goal of helping U.S. cotton producers maximize production efficiency and improve yields and fiber quality by: 1) gaining new perspectives in such fundamental practices as land preparation, planting, fertilization, pest control, irrigation and harvesting; and 2) observing diverse farming practices and the unique ways in which other resourceful producers have adopted new and existing technology. A unique program benefit is that the participants get to ask questions of both the producers they visit on the tours but also from producers from their own region that they travel with during the week.

This season, producers from the Far West and Southwest regions will see agricultural operations in the Mid-South states of Arkansas, Missouri and Tennessee on August 5-10; Southeast producers will visit California’s San Joaquin Valley on August 12-17; and Mid-South producers will tour two of Texas’ cotton production regions on August 19-24.

The NCC's Member Services staff, in conjunction with local producer interest organizations, conducts the P.I.E. program, including participant selection.


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