“Obviously it’s very first class. It’s a really professional organization and they’re really out there championing the cause of cotton. It’s important to have that voice. That’s what has resonated with me, knowing that there is a spokesman for our industry.”

Hardwick and his wife, Felicia, have one son, William Mead Hardwick Jr., who just turned 2, and another son on the way.

Wren Felts

Wren Felts farms about 2,000 acres of cotton, rice, milo and soybeans with his father, Benton, and grandfather, Don, near Joiner, Ark. He said his father participated in a Cotton Incorporated tour 15 years ago and again this February. “He told me how interesting it was and how much I would learn. The cotton industry is changing every day. You have to keep up.”

After listening to a research presentation one morning, Felts said, “I didn’t know so many big names were involved in cotton, like Under Armor and its Charged Cotton product. That was amazing to me.”

Felts said the tour drove home the fact that synthetic fibers are cotton’s biggest competitive threat. “It’s not just other countries, weeds and pests. It’s trying to get cotton marketed right.”

David Taylor

David Taylor farms a 5,500-acre row crop operation along with 400 head of cattle, around Como, Miss., with his father, Sledge. He wasn’t sure if he could afford to leave the farming operation this month, “but my wife, Allison, and I decided it was only two days, we could spend some time together, and we could learn a little about the cotton industry.”

The tour “stimulated me to ask questions that I’ve often thought about in the past. For example, we get docked for high micronaire. I want the mill to show me why. I want to see the complications that arise from that and things like high leaf content.”

Like so many other older generation farmers, Taylor’s father did not want his son to work on the farm, citing the extreme risk of farming. As a result, David worked in the West for a few years before returning home.

“Dad had three sons, and I was the one who really always loved to farm. It just feels like what I’m supposed to do. I thought about aviation. I have my pilot’s license. But I’ve always loved farming.”

David and Allison have a 20-month old son, David Sledge Taylor Jr., who they call Sledge.

David Crump

David Crump, who farms dryland and irrigated cotton, south of Ralls, Texas, around the edge of the Caprock, said of the tour, “I had to drop everything to come, but I knew it would be interesting.

“To me, being a non-profit organization, I didn’t realize how much Cotton Incorporated was doing to create profits. They are definitely using the money for our benefit. It’s not just a dollar-a-bale going out the window. It’s going to help us and keep cotton strong.”