MEMPHIS, TN – California cotton producers will host cotton producers from the Southeastern United States Aug. 3-7 as part of the 2003 National Cotton Council/FMC Producer Information Exchange (P.I.E.) program.
The program, now in its 15th 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 America’s cotton producers become more efficient by speeding up their adoption of proven technology and innovative farming methods.
Ed Cherry, FMC’s manager, government regulations and agribusiness affairs, sees the exchange program as even more important now than when it began in 1989 because producers today have to be much more responsive to change. "When growers see a new farming method or tool firsthand, they are more likely to risk putting it to work on their farms," Cherry said. "We’ve seen, for example, growers in West Texas go back and install drip irrigation on their farms after seeing it at a Western operation."
2002-2003 Cotton Foundation President Don Cameron, a Helm, CA, producer, said the P.I.E. program is an outstanding way to encourage U.S. cotton producers to maximize their production efficiency and speed up the adoption of proven farm technology and practices.
"The participants get a unique opportunity to ask questions and interact with their peers to gain a deeper understanding about what works and doesn’t work," Cameron said. The growers from Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Georgia, Alabama and Tennessee will begin their San Joaquin Valley tour Aug. 4 with a visit to the California Cotton Growers Association in Fresno for an overview of California cotton production.
The group also will hear about California irrigation from Dan Errotabere, Mark McKean and Mark Borba at the Errotabere Ranch in Riverdale; tour the Los Gatos Tomato Cannery and visit various farms in the Westside area. The next day, the group will get another look at California agriculture during a tour of Gilkey Enterprises in Corcoran and tours of the Curti Dairy in Waukena and Nichols Pistachio and Almond Processing in Hanford.
On the 6th the group will get another briefing on the state’s water issues during a visit to the Emonston Pumping Station in Bakersfield. They also will see carrot processing during a tour of Grimmway Farms there, and then see Farmers Cooperative Gin and cotton farms in the Buttonwillow area.
The 2003 P.I.E. program also featured producers from Arizona and California visiting the Southeast July 20-24, producers from Texas and Oklahoma touring the Mid-South, July 27-July 31 and will include producers from Arkansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Mississippi and Tennessee visiting West Texas Aug. 9-14. Upon completion of the 2003 tours, the P.I.E. program will have exposed nearly 700 U.S. cotton producers to innovative production practices and technology in regions different than their own.