Each year the Cotton Foundation receives sponsor support in the form of a grant from Bayer, and then selects producers to participate in the exchange.

"This year's exchange started its first leg when a group of producers from the Southeast traveled to Louisiana and Mississippi July 7-12. On the second leg of the exchange Mid-South producers observed operations in Georgia June 23-28," said Iris Williams, Bayer CropScience market acceptance manager, who also traveled with the West coast group. "On the third leg of the exchange, cotton producers from Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas observed cotton and other agricultural operations in California’s San Joaquin Valley the week of July 22 and on this fourth leg, Western producers visited Texas with stops in Lubbock and Corpus Christi."

The Southwest tour participants included Don England, Jr., and Jonathan Cockrill, both from Casa Grande, Arizona; Phillip Garcia from Eloy; and Kelci Morrow of Coolidge, Arizona. Californiaproducers included Jake and Aric Barcellos, both from Los Banos, California; and Tim Gomes from Gustine; Adam Mendes of Fresno; and Matthew Watte from Tulare.

In Lubbock participants visited PYCO Industries, Vardeman Farms and Caprock Vineyard on Monday and were provided updates on Bayer CropScience research and development, a production discussion from a Plains Cotton Growers representative, and were briefed on the Texas Cotton Improvement program.

Tuesday's agenda included a visit to the Farmers Cooperative Compress, a briefing on electronic marketing, a tour of the Lubbock Feedlot and a tour of Mimms Farm. Tuesday evening, producers traveled by air to Corpus Christi.

The Corpus Christi leg of the exchange included Wednesday visits to Stover Equipment Company for an update with company officials on the latest models of module trucks and equipment and visits to ginning operations in nearby Odem and Gregory. To round out the day, producers were briefed at the expansive Gulf Compress facility and its expansion at Corpus Christi's deep water port facility and were surprised by a visit from NCC Chairman Jimmy Dodson, a Corpus Christi area farmer. Dodson welcomed producers and talked about the farm bill, international trade issues and the growth of the U.S. cotton industry.

"The P.I.E. tour is a very important part of what the Cotton Council does and I want to welcome all of you to South Texas. I hope your visit here will be productive and while not everything you see here will apply to what you do at home, some of it will, and it's not just a one-way street as we hope to learn some new things from you as well," Dodson said. 

Following his surprise address, producers were taken on a bus tour of the port facility followed by a number of farm tours to round out the day.

Thursday the group visited the famous King Ranch and toured the Texas AgriLife/Texas Parks & Wildlife Department's Mariculture Laboratory in Flour Bluff in the afternoon to view algae biodiesel and gossypol-free shrimp feeding projects.

Cotton Foundation President Barry Evans, a Kress, Texas, cotton producer, said the U.S. cotton industry expresses their appreciation to Bayer CropScience for underwriting the P.I.E. program.

“Bayer’s support has enabled hundreds of U.S. cotton producers to compare notes with their peers about what works and doesn’t work and to see and hear how their fellow cotton producers are dealing with current farming challenges such as managing weed resistance and crop input costs,” Evans said. “And the P.I.E. tours enable participants to not only learn from their hosts but exchange ideas and information with the producers they are traveling with during the week.”


Other articles of interest on Southwest Farm Press:

Program helps growers get better handle on cotton industry issues

South Plains cotton farmers may abandon 40 percent of crop

South Plains growers amazed at California agriculture