Five cotton farmers from across the cotton belt were honored at the High Cotton Award breakfast March 2, at the Mid-South Farm and Gin Show, Memphis, Tenn. Merlin Schantz of Hydro, Okla., was recognized as the Southwest winner.
Upon receiving his award, Schantz addressed the breakfast crowd of nearly 100 guests. "It’s a great privilege to receive this award. But I have to tell you in all honesty, I didn’t get here alone," Schantz explained. "I really believe that it’s only by the grace of the Good Lord that we have the privilege and opportunity to be stewards of the land that He's blessed us with. God made a way and we have the opportunity to serve Him."
Next, Schantz praised his wife. “Lillian has been our accountant, book keeper, cook — everything that a farmwife could possibly be, Lillian has been to our farm operation for almost 40 years."
Schantz also thanked his children and their families, who he said he wished could have attended but due to his daughter and daughter-n-law's pregnancies, had to stay home. "They (his family) play a very active and integrant role in what we do in our business," Schantz said. "We are very much a family operation. Our grand kids are out on the farm almost every day."
See Merlin Schantz: He’s picky about his cotton production practices, http://bit.ly/2COsK69
Lastly, Schantz thanked his Oklahoma Extension service researchers. "I've been an active part in on-farm research for the last 25 years. I've worked with many different researchers and they have made a significant difference in how we farm and how we operate. I don’t know where reports from this morning’s meeting will go, but I want to take this opportunity to say to our legislators: ‘We still need on-farm research, and our Extension Service is a valuable part of who and what we are. We need continued funding for that important research.’”
Greg Frey, vice president of operations for Farm Progress, addressed the crowd, “This year’s High Cotton winners exemplify the best of the best,” said Frey. “Each of the current and past winners of the High Cotton Award has come from highly diversified backgrounds and unique life experiences but above all come before us with the same ideal: to preserve the land.”
Dr. Bill Norman, executive director of The Cotton Foundation, added, “I believe the efforts of all the High Cotton Award recipients, and all of those inspired by those recipients, has played a significant role in propelling the U.S. cotton industry to a new level of sustainability, that is producing this nation’s cotton fiber more responsibly while continually shrinking our environmental footprint."
The other winners were: Ron Rayner, Western winner from Goodyear, Ariz.; brothers Joe and Jack Huerkamp, Delta winners from Macon, Miss.; and Nick McMichen, Southeast winner from Centre, Ala.
The High Cotton Award is sponsored by Farm Press through a Cotton Foundation grant. The awards program is co-sponsored by Americot, AMVAC, Bayer FiberMax/Stoneville, PhytoGen, Dyna-Gro, John Deere, and Netafim.
See Farmers’ speeches express emotion, unity for a strong US cotton industry, http://bit.ly/2FuZzat.