By Lynette Cockerell
In 1953, Dwight D. Eisenhower was in-augurated as the President of the United States, the Korean armistice was signed, and “I Love Lucy” was the number one show on television. Alan Ladd stared in “Shane,” and a small group of visionary farmers on the High Plains of Texas formed Plains Cotton Cooperative Association (PCCA) to better market their cotton.
PCCA will commemorate its 50th Anniversary in 2003, celebrating half a century of cutting-edge ideas, innovations, acquisitions, and the occasional controversy that accompanies great change. It took all of these contributing factors to transform a small marketing cooperative into the largest farmer-owned cotton cooperative in the world.
PCCA, headquartered in Lubbock, Texas, now is one of the largest handlers of U.S. cotton, marketing 2.5 million to 3.0 million bales annually. In addition to cotton marketing, PCCA also owns denim mills in Littlefield, Texas, and New Braunfels, Texas, and cotton warehouse operations in Altus, Oklahoma, and Sweetwater, Texas.
Just as its founding fathers envisioned, each division plays an important role in PCCA’s overall mission:to add significant value to the cotton marketed for our members by being the supplier of choice to our business partners in terms of quality, service and value.
PCCA was not always as large as it is today. In fact, it began as a small cotton marketing cooperative founded by a group of idealistic West Texas farmers who were searching for a way to achieve the best possible price for their cotton. The venture was initially capitalized in 1953 with $12,000 in funds from uncashed checks from Plains Cooperative Oil Mill. Despite starting on a shoestring budget, PCCA has recorded total net margins of approximately $370 million in the five decades since its inception.
PCCA’s accomplishments and innovations have positively impacted not only its producer- members, but also the cotton industry as a whole. Highlights of the cooperative’s 50 years of business will be chronicled in a two-part series in the Spring and Summer issues of Commentator.