The National Cotton Council named former Texas Congressman Charles Stenholm as the recipient of the 2005 Harry S. Baker Distinguished Service Award for Cotton. He was honored at the Council's 2005 annual meeting in Washington, D.C.
The award, named for the late Harry S. Baker, a California cotton industry leader and NCC president, is presented annually to an individual who has provided service, leadership and dedication to the U.S. cotton industry.
Stenholm was first elected to Congress in 1978, embarking on what was to become a distinguished and productive career as the representative of Texas' 17th congressional district.
“We think of Charlie as a cotton farmer and a leading advocate for production agriculture,” said Woody Anderson, outgoing NCC chairman. “He worked tirelessly to build broad coalitions, including production agriculture, nutrition and conservation. He understood, before others, that coalitions of diverse interests were essential to build the support needed to pass farm law in a modern era. And, if anyone wants a living definition of bipartisan, they need look no further than Charlie Stenholm.”
Stenholm worked with his friend and colleague from west Texas, Larry Combest, to steer the 2002 farm bill through Congress. During his career, Stenholm also was involved in crafting U.S. fiscal and budgetary policy.
Stenholm co-authored, with Rep. Jim Kolbe, R-Ariz., legislation to reform Social Security long before it came into the national spotlight. He had a hand in establishing the Blue Dog Democrats — a group of conservative, centrist members of the House who work in a bipartisan manner on budget and fiscal policy. The Blue Dogs include representatives from districts across the Cotton Belt.
Among Stenholm's other accomplishments are: former executive vice president of the Rolling Plains Cotton Growers, a leader in the foundation of the NCC Producer Steering Committee (now the American Cotton Producers) and a former Cotton Incorporated director.
Previous honorees of the Harry S. Baker Award include Duke Barr, Lloyd Cline, Sen. Thad Cochran, Robert Coker, Rep. Larry Combest, Charlie Cunningham, William B. Dunavant Jr., Duke Kimbrell, Bill Lawson, Lon Mann, Frank Mitchener, Albert Russell, Jimmy Sanford, Earl Sears, B. F. Smith, Jack Stone, Charlie Youngker, and Gaylon Booker.