Rep. Larry Combest, Texas, was honored as the recipient of the 2003 Harry S. Baker Distinguished Service Award for Cotton during the National Cotton Council's annual meeting in Tampa. The award is presented annually to a deserving individual who has provided extraordinary service, leadership and dedication to the cotton industry.

In presenting the award, outgoing NCC Chairman Kenneth Hood said Combest “applied his agriculture background to his job and took a proactive approach to shaping sound policies.”

Hood said the congressman “provided critical leadership in forging a balanced, bi-partisan House farm bill, which reflected production agriculture's priorities and directed the bill's passage through the House and conference, all the while defending the bill against a number of damaging amendments.

The late Jack Hamilton, a cotton producer, ginner and warehouseman in Louisiana, is the recipient of the 2003 Oscar Johnston Lifetime Achievement Award. Hood said, “Jack's dedication and commitment to the cotton industry was known across the country and the leadership he provided was invaluable.”

Hamilton served the NCC continuously from 1969 until his death in December 2001. That service included seven years as a delegate, two years as a member of its board, chairman of the Joint Cotton Industry Bale Packaging Committee, president of the Cotton Foundation, NCC treasurer, NCC president in 1998 and its board chairman in 1999.

Myrl Mitchell, a Lenorah, Texas, cotton ginner and past president of the National Cotton Ginners Association, is the recipient of the NCGA's 2002 Horace Hayden Cotton Ginner of the Year Award.

Mitchell has served both as a ginner delegate and a producer delegate to the NCC and currently is a NCC director and a director of Cotton Incorporated.

Gaylon Booker, president and chief executive officer of the NCC, where he has worked for over four decades, received the NCGA's 2002 Distinguished Service Award.

Booker began his career at the NCC in 1961 as a market analyst in the Economic Services Department.