MEMPHIS - Mid-South cotton producers will host Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia cotton producers July 7-12 as part of the National Cotton Council/FMC Producer Information Exchange (P.I.E.) program.
The program, now in its 13th year, is managed by the NCC's Member Services staff and supported by a grant to The Cotton Foundation from FMC Corporation. The program's overall aim is to help American cotton producers become more efficient by speeding up their adoption of proven technology and innovative farming methods.
"The P.I.E. program is basically the Internet in the flesh," says James F. "Jimmy" Dodson, newly-elected president of The Cotton Foundation. "It's a problem-solving tool that allows innovative producers to share information, management ideas and concerns with other progressive cotton producers."
The Robstown, TX, cotton producer said successful producers typically leave their mark on their communities, but the P.I.E. program allows them to impact other areas of the Cotton Belt, too. He said the program also helps producers understand concerns of producers in regions different than their own - a timely process as discussions on new farm law escalate this year.
Foundation Chairman Talmage Crihfield, a Ripley, TN, producer and 1993 P.I.E. participant, said the exchange program also is serving the increasingly important function of exposing participants to creative ways of reducing their production inputs as a means to achieving profitability.
The Southeast producers will begin their tour in northeast Louisiana where they will visit Jay Hardwick's cotton farm and the Panola Company cotton operation in Newellton and then get individual tours of various cotton farming operations in the area. On July 10th, the participants will participate on additional individual cotton farm tours in the Lake Providence area, as well as visit Panola Pepper Co. and the Louisiana Cotton Museum there and a catfish processing plant in nearby Eudora, AR.
The next day's activities begin at in Stoneville, MS, where Chip Morgan, executive vice president of the Delta Council, will provide insights into Delta cotton production and agriculture. Dr. Jim Smith of the Delta Research & Extension Center will give an overview of that research complex before the participants tour the Delta Branch Experiment Station. The group will end the day visiting area farms in Washington County. On the 12th, the group will conclude their tour with visits to the Delta Pride Catfish Facility in Indianola and to Ray Makamson's cotton farm in Itta Bena.
The 2001 P.I.E. program features three other tours: producers from Oklahoma, Texas and New Mexico will visit operations in Arizona and California July 21-27; producers from Arizona and California will tour the Texas' High Plains and South Texas, Aug. 4-9; and producers from Arkansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Mississippi and Tennessee will travel to Georgia and Alabama, Aug. 18-23.