What is in this article?:
• Though the 2013 award is a gin award, make no mistake the heart and soul of McCleskey Cotton Company, including the gin, is owner and co-founder Ronnie Lee.
• Jimmy Sanford, a cotton farmer and business leader in Prattville, Ala.,, was presented the Southern Cotton Growers Grower Achievement Award.
• The late Billy Carter, a North Carolina cotton farmer and long-time executive director of the North Carolina Cotton Growers Association, was inducted into the Southern Cotton Growers Hall of Fame
RONNIE LEE accepts the Gin of the Year award during the recent Southeastern Cotton Ginners annual meeting.
Active in cotton and peanut groups
During his career, Lee has been active in both peanut and cotton leadership groups and has won numerous awards, including the 2010 Farm Press High Cotton Award.
He and his company, are very supportive of local non-profits and charities and have raised and donated thousands of dollars to the American Cancer Society.
They have a conservationist approach to farming that includes water conservation and cutting edge farming methods. They were awarded with the 2010 business of the year from the Terrell County Chamber of Commerce.
Lee’s farming family, which includes sons Ron (Ronald C. Lee, Jr.), Neil and Chandler grow 3,500 to 4,200 acres of cotton, 900 acres of corn, soybeans, and wheat, and has a cow-calf operation.
It also includes McCleskey Cotton Company, a ginning and warehousing operation, and RCL Flying Service, an agricultural aerial spraying business. In addition, the operation does custom harvesting.
Lee is quick to point out that it’s truly a family operation — Ron operates the gin and markets the crop, Neil runs the day-to-day farming operation, and Chandler also works in the farming enterprise.
“It has taken us 17 years in the cotton ginning business to get to this place, and I’m truly honored to accept this award on behalf of our employees,” Lee says.
“I’m proud of all three of my sons, and on this day especially of Ron, who has worked so hard to make our ginning operation a success.
“I’m equally as proud of Keith Gill. I don’t know of a more deserving person in the cotton business to get an award recognizing excellence in cotton ginning,” Lee says.
The Southern Cotton Producers Association does not award the Cotton Producers Recognition Award every year. It goes to a person who has contributed significantly to the cotton industry over a period of years, and former winners are truly a who’s who in the cotton business.
The 2013 Award was presented to Jimmy Sanford, an Autauga County, Ala., cotton grower and businessman.
Sanford served as Chairman of Home Place Farms, Inc. until Dec. 31, 2008. He has been a director of Alabama Power Co. since 1983, and he is president of the Autauga Quality Cotton Association (AQCA) in Prattville, Alabama.
AQCA is one of the leading cotton marketing cooperatives in the United States. Sanford was one of the original founders of the organization in 1967.