In case you haven't turned on the television in the last few weeks, it's award season. It is a great thing to be recognized for your work by your peers.
But, I have to say, I appreciate the awards ag gives to its people, the ones who feed and clothe the world, much more than the awards given to people who pretend for a living.
In the case of ag, it's a noble cause the industry undertakes.
The High Cotton Awards, sponsored by Farm Press and the Cotton Foundation, began the year before I went to work for the National Cotton Council. So, for me, they've been engrained into the culture of the cotton industry since I went off the farm.
I know many of the recipients and count several of them as good friends. I respect them as innovative cotton producers, as well as just good people.
It is a privilege to be involved with some of the activities that go on around the choosing and presenting the awards to these well-deserving recipients. In the environment I came up in, it was understood that you had to be alert and look at the industry at large in order to secure your success on the farm and in the market.
In the process, I encountered the kinds of people who make up the list of former and current winners of the High Cotton Award. These are leaders in every sense of the word.
While they may not be presidents of national organizations — although several have been — they lead the industry through innovation and the way they make a difference, not only in their operation, but with their connections with crop consultants, Extension personnel and other growers.
Recipients like Jay Hardwick and his family who have taken their farm into a new age of conservation, successfully growing cotton and other crops while protecting the sensitive ecosystem of Louisiana.
I've been to Jimmy Hargett's operation in Tennessee several times and watched as he has explained his input in the development of new cotton pickers, spray rigs and his water system.
Water innovation and cover crops have been the topic on Steve Steven's operation as we've seen how he can track benefits from both as one of Arkansas' Discovery Farms.
I've also visited the operations of past winners including George LaCour, Coley Bailey, Bob Walker, Joe Huerkamp, Kenneth Hood, David Wildy, Marty White and Larry McClendon.
This is not a comprehensive list of Mid-South winners and I know other cotton producers who should be on the list as well. We've had 26 years of High Cotton Awards and I hope to continue to meet and work with those producers who will make their mark in cotton into the future.