Ron Rayner, a third generation Arizona cotton producer, received the 2021 Harry S. Baker Distinguished Service Award. He was recognized during the National Cotton Council’s (NCC) 2022 annual meeting held in Houston, Texas on February 11-13.
The award, named for the late California industry leader and past 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, outgoing NCC Chairman Kent Fountain said Rayner has long been an industry leader and very active in the Council, serving in numerous Council leadership positions, including as a director, treasurer, and as its 1999 president.
Fountain said that while serving as NCC president, “Ron met that year’s challenges head on and promoted industry unity that led to many cotton priorities being met. Among positive results for the industry that year was restoration of sound cotton policy and the approval of emergency assistance to help cover 1998 crop losses, including $180 million for cottonseed support. Ron also appointed a special Council committee to look at future farm policy.”
Rayner, who is a partner in A Tumbling T Ranches with his two brothers and two nephews, produces cotton, alfalfa and grains on about 6,000 acres. The partners own another 3,200 acres of farmland in California of which they lease a portion to other producers. Ron also is a former president of Farmer’s Gin, Inc., in Buckeye.
Before and since his time as president, Rayner has been very involved in industry affairs. He served on multiple Council program committees including Foreign Operations, Technical, Industry Practices & Policies, Public Relations & International Market Development, and Farm Program and Economic Policy. Among others he served on were the Program Eligibility and Quality task forces and the Beltwide Cotton Conferences Steering Committee.
Rayner chaired the Council’s American Cotton Producers in 1996 and 1997. He also served as a director and executive committee member of Cotton Council International (CCI) in 1998 -- a year in which he was a delegation leader on CCI’s cotton promotion trip to Turkey, Bangladesh and Indonesia. He previously had participated in a CCI European and Middle East trade mission.
For many years, Ron has provided valuable input to the Council’s course through his participation on its future role study and new finance plan steering committees, among others. He currently serves as vice chairman of the Council’s Operations Committee and as an advisor to the Council’s Board of Directors.
Among other previous cotton industry contributions, Ron served as a Cotton Incorporated director, as president of the Arizona Cotton Growers Association, as Calcot’s chairman, and as a member of USDA’s Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation Service’s state committee. He currently is a board member of the Central Arizona Project and the Family Farm Alliance.
A past Council Producer Information Exchange participant, Ron always made his farm available Council-coordinated activities such as a tour for the news media to showcase Cotton Foundation research projects and cutting-edge technology and production.
In fact, Ron has long been recognized for his innovative production practices and conservation efforts such as water use efficiency and his multi-year, minimum tillage crop rotation system. He has received numerous awards including Cotton Farming magazine’s “Cotton Farmer of the Year” in 1989, Arizona Farm Bureau’s Farmer of the Year in 1998 and more recently was honored as a Farm Press Publications’ 2018 High Cotton Award recipient. A University of Arizona graduate, Ron and his wife, Heather, have a son, and Ron has two grown daughters.
Previous Baker award recipients include producers -- Woody Anderson, Duke Barr, Bruce Brumfield, Lloyd Cline, Robert Coker, Jimmy Dodson, Bruce Heiden, Kenneth Hood, Bill Lovelady, Bob McLendon, Frank Mitchener, Jimmy Sanford, Jack Stone and Charlie Youngker; ginners -- Lon Mann and Charlie Owen; merchants -- William B. Dunavant, Jr., and Bill Lawson; cooperative official -- Woods Eastland; textile manufacturer -- Duke Kimbrell; association executives -- Gaylon Booker, Phil Burnett, Neal Gillen, Mark Lange, John Maguire, Bill May, Albert Russell, Earl Sears, and B.F. Smith; Congressional members -- Senators Saxby Chambliss and Thad Cochran and Representatives Larry Combest and Charles Stenholm; and USDA official -- Charlie Cunningham.