Will McCarty of Starkville, Miss., was named the winner of Farm Bureau’s Distinguished Service Award for 2008 at the organization’s annual meeting on Dec. 7.

McCarty retired from the Mississippi Cooperative Extension Service after 28 years of service to Mississippi agriculture and is one of the foremost experts on cotton in the nation.

David Waide, Farm Bureau president, said McCarty “has worked closely with Farm Bureau over the years to develop cotton policy that has been beneficial to producers and he has given selflessly of his time to help farmers all over Mississippi.

“Many advancements in cotton production have taken place with McCarty’s guidance, including the increased use of defoliants that prevent regrowth, the use of plant growth regulators, and the use of reduced-till and no-till methods of production.

“However, perhaps the greatest advancement McCarty helped initiate was the eradication of cotton’s number one pest, the boll weevil.

“I think last year we only found three boll weevils in the state caught in traps,” said McCarty. That has been a tremendous help to Mississippi cotton farmers.”

The Distinguished Service Award is the highest honor Farm Bureau bestows on an individual for someone who has made a difference in the lives of Mississippi farmers.