Jimmy Roppolo, an El Campo, Texas, ginner, was named the 2012 Horace Hayden National Cotton Ginner of the Year. He was recognized February 9 during the 2013 annual meeting of the Memphis-based National Cotton Ginners Association (NCGA) in Memphis, Tenn.
That award is presented annually to a ginner in recognition of: 1) able, efficient and faithful service to the ginning industry and 2) continuing those principles exemplified and practiced by Horace Hayden, a former NCGA executive secretary.
Roppolo has been active at both state and national levels of the U.S. cotton industry. A past president of the Texas Cotton Ginners’ Association, he has served on its board since the mid-1980s, and was named the Texas Ginner of the Year in 2000. He has been a trustee of the Texas Cotton Ginners’ Trust, and currently serves as a director of the Texas Agricultural Cooperative Council and as a member of the Fiber Advisory Committee for the Texas Agriculture Commission. He has served as a National Cotton Ginners’ Association (NCGA) director and as a ginner delegate to the National Cotton Council.
Roppolo, a Texas A&M graduate, also was at the forefront of a U.S. cotton ginning industry campaign launched in 1998 to raise $500,000 towards the creation of an endowed chair in Texas A&M University’s Agricultural Engineering Department.
“Jimmy’s tireless efforts were instrumental in raising those funds in just over two years,” said outgoing NCGA President Lee Tiller who presented the award to Roppolo.
In 2004, Roppolo was named the Texas A&M Outstanding Alumnus for the College of Agriculture & Life Sciences, and he was named a member of the Tyrus R. Timm Honor Registry of Former Students in Agricultural Economics. Currently, he chairs A&M’s Advisory Committee for the Cotton Mechanization and Engineering Chair, and is a member and past president of the university’s College of Agriculture Development Council.
Roppolo began his career in 1970 with Farmland Industries. After working in cooperatives for several years, he became the general manager of Farmers Coop of El Campo in 1985 and immediately set out to improve its ginning efficiency.
Noting that Roppolo “is known for his unwavering dedicated services to his customers and for implementing new technologies at the gin that improve fiber qualities and increase efficiencies,” Tiller said at the time Roppolo took over the Farmers Coop operation, the gin’s production volume totaled about 10,000 bales. In a year’s time, that volume tripled and over the years continued to grow. In 1992, Farmers Coop of El Campo was awarded the Texas Agricultural Cooperative Council – Cooperative of the Year.
In the past year, Roppolo oversaw a merger between Farmers Coop of El Campo and Danevang Farmers Co-op, Inc. Roughly one year since the merger discussion began, the resulting company, United Agricultural Cooperative, Inc., has processed more than 150,000 bales of cotton. The company, now recognized as one of the most successful, innovative cooperatives in Texas, had 2012 sales in its grain, cotton, agronomy and farm supply divisions totaling $79 million.
Also recognized at the NCGA meeting was Dennis “Dusty” Findlay, the Southeastern Ginners Association’s chief executive officer. He received NCGA’s Distinguished Service Award which honorsindividuals who have provided a career of distinguished service to the U.S. ginning industry.
A Virginia native, Findlay also is a Texas A&M University graduate. He was employed by Texas Cotton Ginners in 1991 as a field safety representative before joining Southeastern Cotton Ginners Association in 1997.
Findlay serves on the NCGA’s Advisory Policy Council, Air Quality Subcommittee, Gin By-Products Subcommittee, Ginning Technology Committee, Legislative Committee, OSHA Compliance Subcommittee, Safety & Labor Committee, and the Safety Specialists Forum.
“Dusty has devoted many years of his life to the ginning industry and has been an invaluable asset,” Tiller said in presenting the award. “He is often sought on a wide-range of issues, including safety and labor regulations, environmental regulations, trucking laws, and improving cotton quality.”
The NCGA also elected its 2013 officers: president - Richard Kelley, Burlison, Tenn.; first vice president - Dwayne Alford, Yuma, Ariz.; second vice president - Levin Lynch, Bennettsville, S.C.; third vice president – Ron Craft, Plains, Texas; and chairman - Tiller, Odem, Texas. Harrison Ashley of Cordova, Tenn., serves as NCGA’s executive vice president.