facebook_pixel

Finding the Next Generation of Cotton Farmers

From the Cotton Grower 2015 Annual

Beck Barnes 2015 Web(3)

As any longtime cotton producer will readily tell you, no two years are alike. The 2015 production season held true to this belief.

We began with a jarring drought over the western half of the country, which turned into a torrential month-long downpour across much of the Southwest, before slowly settling back into drought-like conditions in many of the same areas. There were herbicide-resistant weeds and pesticide-resistant bugs. Through it all, there was the maddeningly stagnant cotton market.

As the old-timers would tell you, this year was unlike any other. But what can 2015 tell us about the old-timers? Well, namely, that there are a lot of them.

Cotton Grower occasionally does reader research studies in order to better understand our audience. We learned several years ago that our average reader was approaching 60 years old. He was still plenty young enough to take care of business on the farm, but, to be sure, our typical audience member was approaching retirement age.

Of course, we didn’t really need a reader survey to tell us that much. We’re out of the office and on the turn-row pretty regularly. We host a half-dozen grower-focused events each year. We see our audience face-to-face routinely.

It was at one such grower-focused event where I heard my favorite quote of 2015. In his acceptance speech for the Cotton Grower Cotton Achievement Award, Texas cotton producer Jimmy Dodson reflected on the nature of generational change in the cotton industry.

“We have a rule in my church,” said Dodson, “You can’t leave until you find your replacement. I think we need to have that rule in this industry as well. I strongly suggest you take that as your mantra – that you find your replacement, you find a young person or somebody with energy or somebody with enthusiasm or ideas, and you mentor them up to take your spot, and then some.

“We will have a better day in the coming year, in the coming 100 years, if you do that.”

I think there is a lot of wisdom in that piece of advice. I am also fully aware that the current economic prospects of the cotton industry may not be very attractive to young people who are trying to figure out what to do with their lives. And it is also true that sometimes young people – often your own sons and daughters – simply aren’t open to the idea of staying on the farm.

But it is also true that this industry won’t survive without an influx of young energy – a new generation of producers who, like Jimmy Dodson, have an eye on the health of American cotton as a whole. And the good news is that they – young people open to pursuing a career in agriculture – exist. Many are enrolled in our excellent agriculture universities across the country. Others are closer to home, working for a living and waiting for an opportunity to come their way.

As many of you may begin to think about retirement in the coming years, it would also be prudent to think about the future of the industry, as well. Finding your replacement, as Dodson phrases it, can keep both your legacy and our industry healthy for years to come.

Topics:

Leave a Reply

Opinion Stories
Opinion

Plow Thru Cancer With Me, Won’t You?

November 10, 2017

Cotton Grower Editor/Publisher Beck Barnes gets personal about family and St. Jude...and shares a special request for the cotton community.

Opinion

Several Factors Vital to U.S. Cotton Industry Growth

October 31, 2017

Maintaining market share, enhanced consumer awareness and continued investments in research and development are needed to keep the U.S. cotton industry advancing.

Opinion

Five-Year-Old Girl Enthused by Cotton Research

October 27, 2017

A visit to a cotton research lab can help encourage students – even five-year-old girls – to consider a career in science.

Opinion

Creating Novel Functional Cottons

September 15, 2017

Incorporation of biological molecules to cotton may lead to development of novel functional cottons.

Opinion

Outlook Still Optimistic for Texas Cotton

September 2, 2017

Hurricane Harvey has focused the eyes of the world on Texas. Although cotton losses along the Gulf Coast are substantial, there is still optimism for a bumper crop as the High Plains moves toward harvest.

Opinion

Global Cotton Must Confront Polyester

February 23, 2017

In the face of massive shifts in consumption, member nations of the WTO must hold polyester to the same standards as cotton.

Opinion

Cotton Industry Begins Year with Optimism

January 20, 2017

Higher global cotton production and increased demand is the current state of the cotton industry.

Around The Gin
Product News

Bayer Looking for FiberMax One Ton Club Growers for 2017

November 16, 2017

Cotton growers who produce an average of 2,000 lb/A on 20 or more acres planted to FiberMax varieties in 2017 are eligible to be part of the 13th annual FiberMax One Ton Club.

Product News

Monsanto Delays NemaStrike for Additional Review

November 2, 2017

After finding cases of skin irritation, Monsanto is pulling its nematode seed treatment NemaStrike for further product review.

Product News

Intrepid Trio: Naturally Balanced Nutrition in Every Granule

November 1, 2017

Intrepid Trio contains three essential nutrients for cotton plants.

Product News

Save Time, Increase Efficiencies with Mixmate

November 1, 2017

Mixmate from Praxidyn is a precision chemical mixing system for small farms to large enterprises.

Product News

Crumpler Ironworks & Fabrication

November 1, 2017

Crumpler Ironworks & Fabrication is committed to providing the highest level of service, honesty and integrity, regardless of project size.

Product News

Delivering Proven Performance Across the Cotton Belt

November 1, 2017

Seed varieties, traits and crop protection products from Bayer deliver proven performance to growers across the Cotton Belt.

Product News

Growers Continue to Count on Americot and NexGen

November 1, 2017

Americot is dedicated to working with cotton growers throughout the Cotton Belt to provide elite performing NexGen varieties within the marketplace.

Product News

Deere Adds New Narrow Track Versions to 9RX Tractor Lineup

November 1, 2017

John Deere has added three new 9RX Narrow Track Tractors, expanding its lineup of high-horsepower machines.

Latest News
Opinion

Plow Thru Cancer With Me, Won’t You?

November 10, 2017

Cotton Grower Editor/Publisher Beck Barnes gets personal about family and St. Jude...and shares a special request for the cotton community.

Opinion

Several Factors Vital to U.S. Cotton Industry Growth

October 31, 2017

Maintaining market share, enhanced consumer awareness and continued investments in research and development are needed to keep the U.S. cotton industry advancing.

Opinion

Five-Year-Old Girl Enthused by Cotton Research

October 27, 2017

A visit to a cotton research lab can help encourage students – even five-year-old girls – to consider a career in science.

Opinion

Creating Novel Functional Cottons

September 15, 2017

Incorporation of biological molecules to cotton may lead to development of novel functional cottons.

Opinion

Outlook Still Optimistic for Texas Cotton

September 2, 2017

Hurricane Harvey has focused the eyes of the world on Texas. Although cotton losses along the Gulf Coast are substantial, there is still optimism for a bumper crop as the High Plains moves toward harvest.

International

Some New Thoughts for the Cotton Industry

August 23, 2017

Dr. Seshadri Ramkumar of Texas Tech spent part of his summer in India, observing and discussing the country’s cotton industry and goals. He shares some of his observations in this commentary.

Opinion

No One Reason for “Frustrating” Dicamba Issue

July 18, 2017

Tennessee Weed Specialist Larry Steckel has walked hundreds of drift-damaged soybean fields in the past few weeks. He shares some opinions about possible reasons for the problem.

Opinion

Global Cotton Must Confront Polyester

February 23, 2017

In the face of massive shifts in consumption, member nations of the WTO must hold polyester to the same standards as cotton.

Opinion

Cotton Industry Begins Year with Optimism

January 20, 2017

Higher global cotton production and increased demand is the current state of the cotton industry.

Opinion

Is Our 2017 Acreage Estimate Too Low?

January 10, 2017

If our estimate holds true, or if it proves lower than what actually transpires next season, it could mean great things for American cotton in 2017 and beyond.

Opinion

Don’t Be Your Own Worst Enemy

September 7, 2016

At a key moment in the registration process for new weed control technologies, a few irresponsible farmers are threatening to jeopardize it all.

Opinion

Cotton Incorporated Strikes Back

June 28, 2016

When bullies come after our industry, who is better equipped to stare them down than Cotton Incorporated?

Opinion

For Vilsack, the Time is Now

March 1, 2016

It’s time for Tom Vilsack to provide some value to America’s beleaguered cotton industry.

Opinion

Finding the Next Generation of Cotton Farmers

December 8, 2015

The cotton industry needs an influx of young energy that have an eye on the health of American cotton as a whole. The good news is that young people open to a career in agriculture exist.

Opinion

Talkin’ Turkey About Political Trade Games

May 8, 2015

It’s true that politics makes strange bedfellows. The same can be said about international trade.