Marshall Grant, one of the most impassioned and determined supporters of the Boll Weevil Eradication Program (BWEP), has been inducted into the North Carolina Agricultural Hall of Fame.
Grant’s support of the BWEP was instrumental in restoring cotton’s economic viability for generations of farmers in North Carolina and across the Cotton Belt.
At a time when cotton producers were making 12 or more costly in-season control applications to manage infestations, Grant recognized the downward economic spiral in which cotton producers were trapped.
“The BWEP was historic in the timeline of our industry,” says David Parrish, CEO, North Carolina Cotton Producers Association (NCCPA). “Mr. Grant’s vision and determination were instrumental in the program’s success throughout our state and across the Cotton Belt. He traveled the country galvanizing support behind the idea of a coordinated boll weevil eradication effort based on timely treatments and intensive trapping across broad acreage. Over time, the pilot program that began in North Carolina expanded across the Cotton Belt resulting in reduced input costs, improved yields and a revitalized industry.”
Because of the BWEP’s success, insecticide applications have been reduced in cotton by 75%, yield losses from insects were reduced by 50%, and it allowed Integrated Pest Management (IPM) to become a standard pest control practice for many cotton production operations.
“The Program set the U.S. cotton industry on a direct path toward decades of improved profitability and environmental sustainability,” says Dr. Kater Hake, vice president, Agricultural and Environmental Research, Cotton Incorporated. “It also demonstrated the power of unity to the producer segment. That unity is allowing growers to continue reducing their farm’s environmental footprint moving forward.”
David Burns – North Carolina farmer, industry leader, former chairman of the NC Boll Weevil Eradication Foundation, and one of Grant’s lifelong friends – worked closely with Grant in those early years to convince farmers of the positive impacts the Program would have on their operations and the future of U.S. cotton production in general.
“My efforts were small compared to Marshall’s,” says Burns, who remembers speaking to farmers in North Carolina’s southern counties while Grant worked the northern counties. “The respect he earned and friendships he maintained with NC Commissioner of Agriculture Jim Graham and NC Senator Jesse Helms helped secure funding used to establish the foundation in our state. It was one of the first foundations established and served as a model for other state foundations.
“I could not be more proud for the Grant family and the memory of Marshall,” he adds. “This honor is most deserved and is one that rightly solidifies his place in the history of North Carolina agriculture.”
Grant was President of the NC Cotton Producers Association, a State Director on the National Cotton Council and on numerous boards, commissions and committees. He served 10 years as Vice President of the North Carolina Farm Bureau before resigning and serving 20 years as Chairman of the State Farm Service Agency Committee.
To be considered for induction into the NC Agricultural Hall of Fame, a person must have performed an outstanding accomplishment where the cause of agriculture benefited greatly, or which led to a significant movement in agricultural progress.
“Mr. Grant’s work in the area of boll weevil eradication more than meets these criteria,” noted Parrish. “Every cotton producer in our state owes him a debt of eternal gratitude. It was an honor to nominate him for this award on behalf of all North Carolina cotton producers.”
Based on information from the NC Cotton Producers Association