Audio: Farmer Charles Parker discusses five decades in the cotton business

Born in Tennessee and raised in Missouri, Charles Parker, 74, is a cotton farmer in Senath, a city in the Bootheel. He co-owns Parker & Jones Farms and the Farmer Union Gin Co., a cotton ginning and warehousing business.

To expand his farming business and keep his operations going, he, along with a few other cotton growers, bought a gin in 2000. In a good year, the operation gins more than 90,000 bails. However, in 2014 Farmer Union ginned just 65,000 bails. In 2015, that number dipped to 35,000.

Parker has taken multiple leadership positions in agricultural organizations including the Progressive Farm Credit Services, Cotton Producers of Missouri, the Missouri Cotton Growers‘ Organization and the National Cotton Council.

In 2012, he received the Governor’s Award for Agricultural Achievement, which honors outstanding farmers, growers and processors for their work with agricultural commodities and their communities.

A cotton farmer for 52 years, Parker has witnessed price swings over the past five decades. Despite a downturn over the last several years, he remains positive about cotton’s future in the U.S.

“This country needs to be in the cotton business, too,” Parker said.

He acknowledges that global competition has intensified, but he believes in the future of the industry stateside.

“We’ve got a lot of competition,” he said. “But we can compete. We really can.”

Read more: Recent changes to U.S. cotton subsidies and shifts in the global cotton market present challenges for Missouri farmers who rely on the crop.


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