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Cotton Research and Promotion Program Hall of Fame 2023 inductees honored

In December, the 2023 class of the Cotton Research and Promotion Hall of Fame was honored at Cotton Incorporated’s Board Annual Meeting. In its tenth year, the Hall of Fame honorees were formally recognized for their contributions to the Program and to the cotton industry during a gala dinner at The Don Cesar hotel in St. Petersburg, Florida.

The 2023 honorees of the Cotton Research and Promotion Program Hall of Fame were chosen from nominations made by Certified Producer and Importer Organizations and voted upon by the Chairman’s Committee of the Cotton Incorporated Board of Directors. The three honorees for the 2023 Cotton Research and Promotion Hall of Fame were James H. “Jimmy” Sanford (Alabama), the late D. D. “Dick” Hardee (Mississippi), and the late Murray Williams (Oklahoma).

Jimmy Sanford, a fourth-generation cotton producer from Alabama, has played an instrumental role in formulating farm policy as an active participant in every Farm Bill debate since 1981. A graduate from Auburn University, Mr. Sanford has held the role of Chairman of the Alabama Cotton Commission since its inception over 30 years ago. A past president of the National Cotton Council and Southern Cotton Growers, Mr. Sanford currently serves as president of Autauga Quality Cotton Association and as chairman of Choice Cotton, all while managing his 4,000-acre family farm. A champion of securing agricultural research funding, Mr. Sanford is also a past recipient of the Southern Cotton Growers most prestigious “Cotton Producer Recognition Award,” and he was named as the 2022 recipient of the “Cotton Achievement Award” presented by Cotton Grower Magazine.

Dick Hardee (deceased), a native of Snyder, Texas, was a USDA-ARS research entomologist who was an integral part of the team who helped lead to the eradication of the boll weevil in the U.S. Mr. Hardee received degrees from Texas Tech University and Cornell University before beginning his career in 1964 at the Boll Weevil Research Laboratory at Mississippi State University. While at the research laboratory, he led the team of scientists who were trying to replicate the sex attractant for the boll weevil to develop a pheromone trap to draw out boll weevils from surrounding fields. Spending most of his career working in the cotton industry, Mr. Hardee also worked as a crop consultant, and then as the leader of the Southern Insect Management Research Unit at USDA-ARS’ Jamie Whitten Research Center in Mississippi.

Murray Williams (deceased)was an innovative grower from Oklahoma who has been recognized on local, state, and national levels for his leadership and dedication to the industry. A proponent for soil and water conservation, Mr. Williams oversaw his family farming operation of over 6,500 acres. In the late 1960s, he was the first grower in Oklahoma to use the new pre-plant herbicide Treflan®. On the forefront of new practices, he was the first in his area to implement the installation of laser-guided drainage pipes, aiding in land production, as well as the first to build tail-water pits to allow for the recycling of irrigation water. Additionally, Mr. Williams donated his land to Oklahoma State University for cotton test plots, helping to further advance cotton production in the state. Along with being on the cutting edge of technology on the farm, he served on the National Cotton Council, the National Cotton Board, and the Cotton Incorporated Board of Directors. For his contributions to the industry, Mr. Williams was recognized by Cotton Farming Magazine as the United States Cotton Farmer of the Year in 1980, and by Progressive Farmer Magazine in 1983 as the Man of the Year in Service to Oklahoma Agriculture.

James H. “Jimmy” Sanford © 2024 Stephanie A Smith
James H. “Jimmy” Sanford © 2024 Stephanie A Smith

Jimmy Sanford was in attendance at the awards ceremony and was honored in person. Freida Hardee accepted the award on behalf of her husband, the late Dick Hardee, and Mark Nichols, chairman of The Cotton Board, accepted the award on behalf of the late Murray Williams.

“It is with immense pride that we acknowledged the remarkable accomplishments of Jimmy Sanford, Dick Hardee, and Murray Williams, alongside numerous esteemed industry colleagues, in December,” expressed Berrye Worsham, President and CEO of Cotton Incorporated. “Their enduring dedication and unwavering advocacy have played a pivotal role in shaping the trajectory of the cotton industry.”

The Cotton Research and Promotion Program was established in 1966 to expand the demand for Upland cotton and to increase the profitability for both cotton growers and importers of cotton products. The Program’s Hall of Fame was formed in September of 2014 and has since honored 27 individuals for their significant contributions to the Program or to the cotton industry in general.

To read more and view videos about all the Research and Promotion Hall of Fame honorees, please visit the website 


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