Cotton is unique in that is probably the most fraternal of crops. Cotton farmers produce other commodities, but they tend to identify themselves first and foremost as cotton farmers.
There is a great deal of comradery among cotton farmers and the industry is known for producing great leaders. One was the late Billy Carter of Scotland Neck, N.C. who tragically lost his life on New Year’s Day 2011 following injuries from a car accident. Carter motivated many to become cotton industry leaders.
Among them is cotton farmer Taylor Slade of Williamston, N.C. “He told me when cotton calls you answer. And that meant what you were doing, forget about it. Go do what cotton needed done then because they wouldn’t have called on you if they didn’t need you,” Slade said in a tribute video produced when Carter was inducted into the Cotton Research and Promotion Hall of Fame in December.
Carter was also a great motivator to Northampton County cotton farmer David Dunlow, a past president Southern Cotton Growers and a leader in the National Cotton Council, who says Carter showed him the value and need of taking an active role in industry organizations.
“I learned a lot and made a lot of good friends. I learned how super-important these organizations are and how they fight for the cotton farmer behind the scenes,” Dunlow has said.
High Cotton winner Frank Rogers of Bennettsville, S.C. is another cotton leader cut from the same cotton cloth. Rogers serves on the board of directors of Staplcotn, one of the oldest and largest cotton marketing cooperatives in the United States. He is a past president of Southern Cotton Growers and served as a producer director of the National Cotton Council. He currently serves as a director on the South Carolina Cotton Board.
“I really value the great work the National Cotton Council and Southern Cotton Growers do on behalf of the cotton industry. Both are so important to the health of U.S. cotton,” he says.
The strength of any industry is defined by its leaders. The U.S. cotton industry produces the best.