Despite U.S. mill closings, industry corporate consolidations, and employee cutbacks, Cotton Incorporated's board and Cotton Board members and alternatives say they remain united in their determination to keep pressure on the deep-pocketed, man-made fiber conglomerates.

At the Cotton Board's annual meeting in Atlanta, a $63 million budget was approved for Cotton Incorporated's for 2002.

This emphasizes “the vital importance of maintaining an aggressive effort to preserve gains made through the years by our research and promotion program,” said Seymour Johnson, board chairman and Indianola, Miss. producer.

“If we were to decrease Cotton Incorporated's funding, we could very realistically start eroding the valuable progress that has been made since the program was created in the early 1970s.”

Further evidence of that commitment was shown, said Bob McGinnis, Ag Committee chairman and Arkansas producer, in the approval of the most aggressive agricultural research program to date — almost $8 million.

During the board's general session, Kenneth Hood, National Cotton Council vice chairman and Gunnison, Miss. producer, updated attendees on the latest developments from the Memphis-based organization, including action on new farm bill legislation.

Keith Collins, USDA chief economist, said despite “an overly depressed market, a great deal of gratitude is due Cotton Incorporated's aggressive research and promotion activities that have increased per capita consumer consumption from 10 pounds of cotton per person in 1980 to its current level of 35 pounds.”

J. Berrye Worsham, president and chief executive officer of Cotton Incorporated, announced that Roy Cantrell, formerly with New Mexico State University, has been hired to lead the organizations research division, replacing William Lalor, who recently retired after 28 years of service.

Officers for 2002 elected at the board meeting were John E. Pucheu, Jr., Tranquility, Calif., chairman of the board; Kent D. Nix, Lamesa, Texas, vice chairman; Nancy Ann Marino, Upper Brooksville, N.Y., secretary; V. Larkin Martin, Courtland, Ala., treasurer; and Mike Sturdivant, Jr., Itta Bena, Miss., assistant treasurer.

The Memphis-based Cotton Board is the collection and fiduciary arm of the Cotton Research and Promotion Program.