Marketing efforts highlighted, Seaton announces retirement
The Georgia Cotton Commission honored its top growers, celebrated the career of former U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson and presented information about marketing efforts at the state and national levels during the 13th Georgia Cotton Commission Annual Meeting.
The commission honored retired U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson with a portrait, which was accepted by long-time Isakson aide Jody Redding on the former senator’s behalf.
“He misses all of the people. He misses the interactions, he misses the service,” Redding said. “Forty-five years in a career that spanned four decades. This disease has put him basically in a wheelchair and it’s very sad. But this will mean a lot to him. He said please tell everyone thank you for this award.”
Richey Seaton, who has worked as the GCC executive director since 1994, announced he is retiring later this year.
“There are a lot of awesome people in this business. I’ve got a lot of friends. I won’t forget you or leave you behind. Thank you for your support through the years,” Seaton said.
He reviewed the commission’s activities to support cotton farmers over the past year and noted work the organization is continuing, including promotional partnerships with Georgia Southern University and Georgia Public Broadcasting as it televises high school football playoffs.
“Our message in our promotional stuff is we want to let people know how important cotton is, what it contributes to the state, and, most importantly, that it is sustainably produced,” Seaton said.
Seaton noted the GCC’s education kit called “Cotton’s Story,” which is sent to every U.S. state and Puerto Rico and provided for Extension offices. The GCC presented the “Cotton’s Story” content at school farm days over the past year, reaching approximately 5,000 students.
“We’ve got a great product and our producers do a tremendous job growing it,” Seaton said. “Our allied industries help us get it out. It makes it very important for us. It’s a story we’ve got and we should be very proud of it.”
The GCC supports between 16 and 18 cotton production research projects each year and will provide approximately $680,000 for cotton production research in 2020.
Seaton reminded growers that the deadlines to designate crop insurance under the Agricultural Risk Coverage or Price Loss Coverage plans are March 16 for the 2019 crop year and June 30 for the 2020 crop year.
Growers have the opportunity to enroll in the U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol, a producer-driven sustainability program that emphasizes the science that goes into cotton production. To enroll, visit www.trustuscotton.org.
Cotton Incorporated (CI) Director of Market Research Melissa Bastos presented growers with information about CI’s marketing strategies, emphasizing that the approach has changed as the marketplace has evolved from a strictly walk-in storefront business model to today’s internet-based model where consumers have numerous choices about how and where to shop.
Consequently, CI takes a multi-channel approach that includes traditional media like television and printed publications as well as online channels through social media, banner ads, working through influencers and advertising through video streaming services.
“We want to build awareness,” Bastos said. “We want cotton to always be top of mind. Ultimately, we want them to take action. We want them to look for and buy cotton clothing.”
CI’s work has been effective, Bastos said. In 2019 the organization, targeting women ages 18 to 49, reached 92 percent of those consumers on average nearly 15 times per person. This resulted in exposure to cotton-related messaging more than 872 million times.
The messages focused on comfort associated with clothing made from cotton, ways in which cotton can contribute to a healthy lifestyle and prompts to check labels for fabric content.
CI also worked to reach youth audiences through school lessons in hopes of building demand in the next generation of consumers. To access the classroom lessons click here.
The GCC sponsored the Georgia Quality Cotton Awards, recognizing growers in three different acreage classifications who achieved the highest-value cotton in 2019. Derek Davis of Washington County won the Best Cotton Award for producing the top value cotton regardless of acreage. Davis achieved a loan value of 56.82 cents per pound with a premium of 4.82 cents per pound.
For a complete list of winners, click here.