Jimmy Dodson, a Robstown, Texas, cotton producer, in remarks in accepting the 2015 Harry S. Baker Distinguished Service Award at the National Cotton Council’s annual meeting in Dallas, challenged his industry colleagues to persevere through the current challenging times.
“Don’t be afraid to tell your story,” he told NCC delegates from across the cotton industry. “Each of us has an individual story — but our group story is outstanding. Cotton leaders come from different backgrounds and “bring different interests, different gifts, and different talents and abilities to bear for the common good.”
He encouraged them to stay involved. “Tell the story you have. Be bold about it and don’t be afraid of sharing. Never be ashamed of your work clothes — whether a nice suit, or a pair of overalls, or whatever you work in. It’s very important that we get out and share the message of what’s going on in our industry right now.”
Dodson also urged members to take advantage of the council staff. “We have an outstanding staff. If you are new to this, if you haven’t had the experience, or been in the position, our staff is outstanding and will put you in a place to do the right thing in an excellent way, with integrity. “Those of us who come a little rough around the edges, as I do, get a lot of help from great people with great answers and with the right spirit in their hearts.”
He thanked his family, including wife Barbara and daughters Lori McDonald and Licia Massa, as well as a cousin, Jon Gwynn, acknowledging the contributions they make in running the farm when he’s away representing cotton farmers in the many leadership positions he’s held.
Dodson farms dryland cotton, sorghum, and corn in Nueces County near the Chapman Ranch. Farming isn’t an individual effort, he says, but rather “a team sport. You all know that when you leave town someone has to cover, make decisions. What concerns me is that in recent years, with so much travel, the farm runs better when I’m not at home.”
He quoted “the philosopher Snoopy,” beloved cartoon beagle created by the late Charles Schultz. Describing a scene with Charlie Brown sitting at the end of a dock, looking sadly into the water and bemoaning the fate of humanity, Snoopy beside him, Charlie Brown says: “All of us will live our lives and one day we will come to a day when we’re going to die.” Snoopy sagely responds: “Yes, Charlie Brown — but every day until that one, we don’t.”
Dodson urged his cotton associates to take advantages of such days. “My question for you: Until that final day, what are you going to do with all the other days? How are you going to invest them? Who are you going to encourage? Who are you going to influence, and what story are you going to tell? One question you might ask is, What’s next? Sometimes things are tough; sometimes things are very sad and out of your control. At times like that, you need faith and you need friends.”
Get, stay involved
The cotton industry is filled with such friends, Dodson says. “They will travel for hundreds or thousands of miles to stand with you. That’s why you need to get involved and stay involved.”
A quote from Winston Churchill, during one of the darkest periods of World War II — in 1942, well before the outcome of the war could be foretold — offers a creed for the challenging times cotton currently faces, Dodson says. “Churchill told his people: ‘Don’t quit. Never quit. Never, never, never quit.’ Let’s not quit today.”
The Harry S. Baker award, named for the late California industry leader and past NCC President, is presented annually to a deserving individual who has provided extraordinary service, leadership, and dedication to the U.S. cotton industry.
Dodson has done that, it was noted at the award presentation. A third generation cotton producer, he has a long and distinguished record of leadership and service. He chaired the Cotton Foundation in 2003-04, after serving as its president in 2002-03; served on the NCC’s board from 2009-11 and as the chairman of American Cotton Producers in 2010-11. In 2012, he served as the NCC’s vice chairman, before being named the organization’s 62nd chairman in 2013, a year that required extensive work on the World Trade Organization case with Brazil, and included incredible efforts leading to final passage of the 2014 farm law — some three years beyond the initial development of the industry’s cotton policy proposal.
Dodson is also a recipient of the Farm Press/Cotton Foundation High Cotton Award.