Calcot paid record dividends to its members last year (2010-2011 marketing year). The second highest returns in the co-op’s history for upland cotton and the third highest for Pima cotton were paid this year (2011-2012).

Due to current soft cotton prices, Neeper predicts fewer cotton acres next year in the U.S. and abroad. Domestically, the chief reasons are price competition for grains and soybeans, plus the ongoing drought in Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas.

During the Calcot chairman’s report, Ron Rayner said the co-op’s goal is to provide its members with the most effective cotton marketing options at the lowest possible cost.

“Calcot is developing an in-depth, short- and long-term strategic plan to create a company that even better meets cotton marketing needs in the future,” Chairman Rayner said.

Rayner, an Arizonan, owns and operates A Tumbling T Ranches in Goodyear located west of Phoenix. The Rayner family grows cotton in rotation with wheat and barley.

Turning to the next farm bill, Rayner expressed disappointment in Congress’ inability to implement a new farm law prior to the Sept. 30 expiration of the previous farm program.

“I am not optimistic that Congress will pass a new farm law by year’s end,” Rayner said. “It’s looking more and more likely that Congress will pass a one-year or shorter extension.”

As the cotton industry is well aware, the next farm bill will likely be dramatically different from cotton programs in previous farm laws.

“The direct payment program, which cotton growers have relied on for its safety net feature over the last several years, will likely be deleted in the next farm law,” Rayner said. “This will make bankers nervous about committing funds to growers without a safety net as growers develop production budgets soon for the 2013 crop year.”

Rayner says congressional indecisiveness on the farm bill results in instability for the cotton industry and threatens the large financial investments in its intensive infrastructure.

Calcot was launched in 1927 as a small co-op with a handful of grower members in California. Today, the 85-year-old cooperative is a multi-million dollar business.

To survive many recession-based economic challenges and improve the co-op’s profitability, Calcot has reduced overhead costs.

“We’ve gone back to the basics – the fundamentals,” Neeper said in his closing comments. “We have streamlined operations in cotton marketing, eliminated unprofitable activities, and maximized our marketing and futures trading.”

This year, Calcot changed its articles of incorporation to trim the minimum size of its board of directors from 45 members to 16 for financial efficiencies and to more accurately represent changes in cotton volume and location.

2012-2013 Calcot leadership will include about 30 directors. Recently elected board members serving three-year terms include: Thad Stephen, Jeff Mancebo, Sam Carreiro, and Tim Thompson of California; Eddie Harrison, Clyde Sharp, Ron Howard, and K.C. Gingg of Arizona; Keith Deputy of New Mexico; and Harvey Hilley Jr., Jonathan Krenek, and Walt Franke of Texas.

Elected for one-year, director-at-large positions are Michael Brooks, Steve Coester, James Johnson, Keith Johnson, Melvin Pereira, and John Pucheu Jr.

cblake@farmpress.com