From Cotton Grower Magazine – January 2015
There were six people seated onstage inside a ballroom at the luxurious Fairmont Scottsdale Princess hotel and resort, nestled just outside the city limits of Phoenix, AZ. They were part of a forum at the Sourcing USA Summit, and they faced outward to a crowd of hundreds of merchants, shippers, retailers, and assorted fashion and apparel industry professionals.
The six onstage had a decidedly multi-national, cosmopolitan look. There was a European fashion designer and a South American fabric merchant. They were an eccentric bunch. It was clear that these are very sharp-minded professionals, although their English was at times difficult to comprehend.
That was until the gentleman on the far left began to speak in a soft South Texas accent. This was Jimmy Dodson, in a pair of cowboy boots and an Aggie-maroon jacket. In a crowd of eccentric fashion professionals and slick CEOs, he stuck out quite a bit.
Dodson was there to speak about the sustainability of cotton production, particularly in the U.S. He was well-versed in the subject at hand, and he exuded confidence – even in the middle of what some might consider an intimidating crowd.
“People are just people,” he said after his on-stage session had finished. “You just have to get past the crowd and represent the people who sent you and stand up for what you believe is right, and try to do it with passion.”
On that particular day at the Sourcing USA Summit, Dodson was representing American cotton farmers. He was there to promote the Cotton LEADS initiative, which he had a hand in creating. His passion for the program was evident. According to those who know him best, his passion for American cotton is always on full display.
Because of his leadership and advocacy on behalf of the U.S. cotton industry – and because of his superior skill in producing a cotton crop – Jimmy Dodson has been named the 2014 Cotton Grower Magazine Cotton Achievement Award honoree.
“I think the qualities of intellect, pursuit of innovation, grasp of the issues, communication ability and humility have been instrumental in Jimmy’s legacy of service to his community and our industry,” says Jeff Nunley of South Texas Cotton and Grain Association. Through his involvement in agricultural association work, Nunley has seen first-hand how skillful Dodson is as a leader and advocate.
But the Robstown, TX cotton producer is also a very progressive-minded farmer.
“Jimmy is an innovator,” Nunley says. “Ever since he was a college student selling the first HP calculators to students at Texas A&M, Jimmy has always stayed on the cutting edge of technology.”
Dodson enthusiastically embraces technological advances on the farm. He utilizes precision agriculture techniques, and even has an eye on the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) on his operation.
“We’re field mapping right now – the cotton root-rot areas – so that we can use chemicals to manage root-rot and just treat the areas where the root-rot appears, and nowhere else in the field,” Dodson offers as an example of his precision practices.
“We don’t have any resistant weeds yet, but we’re looking at (UAVs) as a way to possibly manage those populations as they pop up.”
But the high-tech nature of his present day management style is a far cry from his humble beginnings.