Alabama notched its third member of the Cotton Research and Promotion Hall of Fame in December.
Jimmy Sanford of Prattville was inducted into the prestigious group during Cotton Inc.’s annual meeting. Former Alabama honorees are Sykes Martin of Courtland and Hugh Summerville of Aliceville.
Sanford’s entry is thanks to the Autauga County farmer’s unwavering commitment to cotton. That includes his integral role in formulating farm policy, said Alabama Farmers Federation Cotton Division Director Carla Hornady. Hornady works closely with the Alabama Cotton Commission, which Sanford has chaired for three decades.
“Mr. Jimmy doesn’t work to be recognized. He works because he loves cotton, Alabama and, most importantly, his family,” Hornady said. “His contributions to cotton are evident, from working on the farm bill to promoting the Boll Weevil Eradication Program.”
Sanford has been part of every farm bill discussion since 1981 and is a champion for securing agricultural research funding, Hornady said. Past honors for public policy work include induction into the Alabama Agriculture Hall of Fame and netting the Cotton Achievement Award. In an early 2023 article touting the latter, Sanford said industry involvement grew from his upbringing.
“I view myself as a leader-servant,” he told Cotton Grower magazine. “I say it that way because ‘leader’ is an adjective. My calling is as a servant. I want to be involved in a leadership position if a group calls me to do it. I love policymaking in the policy arena.”
An Auburn University graduate, Sanford serves on his alma mater’s board of trustees. He’s president of the Autauga Quality Cotton Association, chairs Choice Cotton and manages his family farm. Past roles include leading the National Cotton Council and Southern Cotton Growers, plus serving on Alabama Power’s board.
He’s a family man, too. He and wife Dot have three children — Susan, Catherine and Will.
Cotton Inc. President and CEO Berrye Worsham thanked Sanford and fellow inductees for their service to cotton. Additional 2023 honorees were the late Dick Hardee of Mississippi and late Murray Williams of Oklahoma.
“Over the past several decades, the cotton industry has continued to evolve, shaped by innovation and strong leadership,” Worsham said. “The 2023 Hall of Fame inductees embody these attributes, and they have played a crucial role in the advancement of the industry with their tireless dedication and commitment.”