Former Texas Congressman Charles Stenholm is the recipient of the 2005 Harry S. Baker Distinguished Service Award for Cotton. He was honored at the National Cotton Council's 2005 Annual Meeting held recently in Washington, D.C.

The award, named for the late California industry leader and NCC President Harry S. Baker, is presented annually to a deserving individual who has provided extraordinary service, leadership and dedication to the U.S. cotton industry.

In presenting the award, out-going NCC Chairman Woody Anderson said Charlie Stenholm was first elected to Congress in 1978, embarking on what was to become a distinguished and highly productive career as the Representative of Texas' 17th Congressional district.

“We think of Charlie as a cotton farmer and a leading advocate for production agriculture,” Anderson said. “And he is. He worked tirelessly to build broad coalitions including production agriculture, nutrition and conservation. He understood, before others, that these coalitions of diverse interests were essential to build the support needed to pass farm law in a modern era. And if anyone wants a living definition of bipartisan, they need look no further than Charlie Stenholm.”

Most recently, Stenholm worked with his friend and colleague from West Texas, Larry Combest, to steer the 2002 farm law through Congress. During his distinguished career, Stenholm also was deeply involved in crafting U.S. fiscal and budgetary policy.

Stenholm also co-authored, with Republican Representative Jim Kolbe of Arizona, legislation to reform Social Security long before it came into the national spotlight. He also had a hand in establishing the Blue Dog Democrats — a group of conservative, centralist members of the House who continue to work in a bipartisan manner on budget and fiscal policy. The Blue Dogs include many prominent Representatives from districts across the Cotton Belt.

Among Stenholm's many accomplishments are: former executive vice president of the Rolling Plains Cotton Growers, a leader in the foundation of the NCC's Producer Steering Committee (now the American Cotton Producers), a former Cotton Incorporated director and a distinguished legislator.

“Charlie Stenholm has served his community, his Congressional district, his state and his nation with dedication and distinction,” Anderson noted.

Previous honorees of the Harry S. Baker Award include Duke Barr, Lloyd Cline, Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), Robert Coker, Rep. Larry Combest, Charlie Cunningham, William B. Dunavant, Jr., Duke Kimbrell, Bill Lawson, Lon Mann, Frank Mitchener, Albert Russell, Jimmy Sanford, Earl Sears, B. F. Smith, Jack Stone, Charlie Youngker, and last year's recipient, Gaylon Booker.