Honoring Woody Anderson

Honoring Woody Anderson

We’re proud to once again honor exceptional work and service to the cotton industry through our annual Cotton Grower Achievement Award. Since 1970, Cotton Grower® magazine has chosen, with wide industry input, one exceptional individual who demonstrates a thirst for innovation, a desire to get involved in initiatives that benefit the entire industry and a dedication to farm and family.

For 2007, this honor has been bestowed to west Texas cotton grower Woody Anderson. In the pages that follow, we present a profile of excellence, including a variety of remarks from industry luminaries presented during the Beltwide Luncheon at the Beltwide Cotton Conferences in Nashville last month.


A Lesson in leadership

Cotton Grower Achievement Award winner Woody Anderson heads up a third-generation family farm in west Texas. His grandfather, W.W. Anderson, left east Texas in the early 1900s and settled in the area they currently farm, driven by the invasion of the boll weevil from Mexico. Woody benefited from his grandfather’s and father’s decades of dedication to cotton farming, learning the values and realities of raising a crop on such challenging land.

“My granddad told me one time that in west Texas, you have to work on averages – you can’t count on a great crop every year,” recalls Anderson. “You need to look at a 10-year average. One of those will be the best crop you ever made, one will be a total bust, and the rest will be closer to the bust than the best crop. So we have tried to do that, not extend too far and be pretty conservative in our operation. But yet when technology comes along and those advances in the industry happen, we take advantage of them as best we can.”
Cotton farming expertise, along with a gift for connecting with people and a desire to advance U.S cotton, got Anderson into a wide range of activities advocating the industry. He discussed this after his Award ceremony at the Beltwide Luncheon in January:

How did you first become involved in cotton advocacy?

“We got involved in the Boll Weevil Eradication Program. We were having a real difficult problem with them in the mid-1970s, and again in the mid-’80s, and if we were going to stay in farming in our area, we were going to have to do something about cotton’s worst pest. That took me into a different arena, the National Cotton Council (NCC), which was working toward getting some federal appropriations to help the cost-share part of that program with the growers.

Talk about your involvement in politics for cotton.

I think we understood that if you want to know where the industry was going, you are going to have to be involved, not only on the organizational side and the industry side, but also on the political side

I worked on the first election for Charlie Stenholm. He and I have been friends for 30 years. Hopefully, along the way we have been able to help set the direction that the farm bill and the cotton industry has been able to go. The NCC has been an effective organization over the years, both on the technical side and, more importantly, on the political side working with membership to develop good programs and good policy for the industry.

I’ve also gotten to travel and work on some WTO issues, some successful and some not. I had an opportunity to travel to Brazil about the time they filed the Brazil case against the U.S. cotton industry. I spent about a week in Africa and visited with west African cotton growers, and took quite a bit of heat from some of their organizational people. They were claiming the party line, that it was the U.S. cotton program that was the demise of their industry. We tried to stand our ground in those meetings, and I think we did. We made the strong argument that it is not the U.S. program but their own internal problems that have caused their plight.

I then had a chance to go to China and actually tour the lay down room in a Chinese textile mill, and walk around and look at bales that were fixing to go into their operation – and some of those bales were from west Texas.

I have had a lot of wonderful opportunities along the way and hopefully made some small difference in contributing to the success of this industry.

What makes you optimistic about the future of U.S. cotton?

To be a cotton grower you really have to be an eternal optimist, or you couldn’t get up every morning and face the challenges we work under. The weather issues alone are substantial – you’re not supposed to make a successful crop on 19 inches of rain a year, but we do – and we have for 100 years on our family farm.

We know the quality of people in this industry and the quality of the supporters we have in this country and around the world, and we think that we are going to be able to address the challenges. A lot of the on-farm challenges are being met by our friends in the corporate world that are working on technology, on ways to make our yields better and our daily operations better. We are going to be able to put together, I am hopeful, a new farm bill. Hopefully it will come out early this spring and be signed into law to give another level of confidence to cotton growers around the country that there is a future.

1970 Dan Pustejovsky 1983 Bill Pearson 1996 Jimmy Blythe
1971 John Nigliazzo 1984 Dr. Richard Kinzer 1997 Jack Hoover
1972 Jack Hamilton 1985 Wayne Bush 1998 Allen L. Baucom
1973 William Falls 1986 Chuck Younker 1999 Paul Good
1974 Jack Funk 1987 Robroy Fisher 2000 Jimmy Hargett
1975 Owen Bibb 1988 Ray Young 2001 Hollis Isbell
1976 Joe Craven 1989 Mark Borba 2002 Kenneth Hood
1977 Duke Barr 1990 Billy Griggs 2003 Larkin Martin
1978 Ben Bearden 1991 Rick Parsons 2004 Don Cameron
1979 Marion Baskin 1992 Jay Hardwick 2005 Steve Verett
1980 Herman Majors 1993 Steve Sossaman 2006 Larry McClendon
1981 Dalton R. Pittman 1994 Jack Frey/Bill Tracy 2007 Woody Anderson
1982 Tommy Funk 1995 Charles Parker    

Among those on hand for the Achievement Award ceremonies were (left to right) Kevin Eblen of Delta and Pine Land, Susan and Woody Anderson, Trent Haggard of Case IH, and Henry Gantz, Cotton Grower Senior Editor.

Woody Anderson makes his acceptance speech after receiving the Cotton Grower Achievement Award during the Beltwide Luncheon.

Cotton Grower Senior Editor Henry Gantz (right) presents Woody Anderson with the 2007 Cotton Grower Achievement Award.

Woody Anderson asserts that west Texas cotton growers must be “eternal optimists” to succeed amid the difficult weather challenges in his region.

Numerous past Achievement Award winners were on hand to celebrate with Anderson (holding trophy, center), including (from left) Jimmy Hargett, Steve Verett, Ray Young, Kenneth Hood, Charles Parker
and Larry McClendon.

Cotton Grower Achievement Award winner Woody Anderson and his wife, Susan, show off their award following the Beltwide Luncheon.

Service to industry through involvement in policy making, from the farm bill to WTO to the boll weevil eradication program, has earned Woody Anderson the respect of his peers in U.S. cotton.