A new voice is speaking for Oklahoma cotton: The Oklahoma Cotton Council has been formed to promote and protect all aspects of the industry.

It replaces the Oklahoma Cotton Foundation, the Oklahoma Cooperative Cotton Ginner Association and the Oklahoma Cotton Improvement Association.

“Bringing the objectives of all three of these organizations together into one effort strengthens cotton’s role in Oklahoma agriculture,” said Mark Nichols, Altus farmer and president of the new organization.

Originally, the ginners association represented Oklahoma cooperative cotton gins. The foundation promoted cotton and the cotton improvement association sponsored research to cotton quality and production.

It is the intention of the new council to promote Oklahoma cotton throughout the world, according to Rodney Sawatsky, council member and manager of Midwest Farmers, Clinton.

Bob Collins, Frederick, will serve as executive vice president of the council. Collins formerly was executive secretary of the ginners’ association. Also serving the council in public affairs will be Shawn Lepard of Lepard Consulting LLC, Guymon.

Along with Nichols and Sawatsky, new council officers and members are: vice chairman, Lyle Miller, Clinton; treasurer, Steven Clay, Carnegie; and secretary, Jay Cowart, Altus.

Members are: Phil Whitworth, Frederick; David Lingle, Frederick; Mike Berry, Altus; Harvey Schroeder, Frederick; Danny Robbins, Altus; and, Phil Bohl, Chattanooga.

Eradication of the cotton boll weevil and new cotton production methods helped over 500 Oklahoma cotton farmers in 2004 produce more than 300,000 bales worth more than $120 million. This effort came from only 31 counties. New technology makes it possible for cotton to be grown profitably in all 77 Oklahoma counties.