Bill Lovelady, a Tornillo, Texas, cotton producer, is the recipient of the 2009 Harry S. Baker Distinguished Service Award. He was honored at the National Cotton Council’s annual meeting in February.

The Baker Award, named for the late California industry leader and NCC President Harry S. Baker, is presented annually to a deserving individual who has provided extraordinary service, leadership and dedication to the U.S. cotton industry.

“Bill Lovelady’s resume is a profile of exceptional leadership and dedicated service to agriculture and his community,” outgoing NCC Chairman Jay Hardwick said.

Hardwick said Lovelady, who served as the NCC’s president in 1997, was at the helm at a time when the industry’s most urgent needs were finding ways to improve margins and better manage risk, while remaining competitive in an increasingly market-oriented global arena.

“There were a number of pressing issues that the Council’s board and committees debated extensively,” Hardwick said. “Bill Lovelady chaired an industry strategic planning committee that delved into these and other issues. Under his leadership, Council leaders were able to avoid divisive resolutions and adopt policy that provided workable solutions and served all segments of the industry equitably.”

Following service in the NCC’s top post, Lovelady remained an active leader in the organization — as an advisor to the NCC Board and a member of the NCC’s Operations Committee. He also chaired the Beltwide Cotton Conference Steering Committee for a number of years and has served with distinction on the Committee for the Advancement of Cotton, the Cotton Leadership Development Committee, the New Finance Plan Steering Committee and the Pink Bollworm Action Committee.

Among Lovelady’s previous leadership activities are: chairman of the NCC’s Producer Steering Committee; past president of both the Texas Association of Cotton Producer Organizations and the El Paso Valley Cotton Producers Association; director of both the Southwest Irrigated Cotton Growers and the Valley Gin Co. in Tornillo; and chairman and current director to Supima.

Lovelady began farming cotton in 1973 following graduation from the University of Texas, El Paso, with a degree in journalism. He has served as a director of the First National Bank in Fabens, Texas, and has been a lay leader and president of the administrative board for the First United Methodist Church there.

Previous Harry S. Baker award honorees include cotton producers, Duke Barr, Bruce Brumfield, Lloyd Cline, Robert Coker, Bruce Heiden, Kenneth Hood, Bob McLendon, Frank Mitchener, Jimmy Sanford, Jack Stone and Charlie Youngker; ginner, Lon Mann; merchants, William B. Dunavant, Jr., and Bill Lawson; textile manufacturer, Duke Kimbrell; association executives, Gaylon Booker, Albert Russell, Earl Sears and B.F. Smith; Congressional members, Sen. Thad Cochran and Reps. Larry Combest and Charles Stenholm; and USDA official Charlie Cunningham.