Dahlen Hancock’s Year as President of CCI
By Jayci Cave
Everyone has a unique story to tell, especially in the agriculture industry. For Dahlen Hancock, his story encompasses farming traditions and innovations as well as family values. This past year, Hancock served as President of Cotton Council International (CCI) and had the opportunity to share his story, and those of American cotton farmers, all around the globe.
Hancock has been farming for 36 years and is a fourth generation farmer from New Home, Texas. He farms in Lynn, Lubbock and Hockley counties and grows a mix of cotton, corn and milo. He graduated from New Home High School and attended Tarleton State University for two years before returning to the farm in 1980. He worked beside his father in a partnership and farmed 320 acres of his own until 1985 when 640 acres came up for rent and he branched off on his own. He married his wife, Jody, in 1986 and they have two sons who farm, Matt Hancock and Zach Walker. Hancock and Jody formed DK&J farms in 1990, and today their operation covers 5,860 acres with about 2,880 acres being center pivot irrigated and 2,980 acres non- irrigated row crop production. Hancock said he first got involved with the cotton industry because he wanted to help make a difference.
“I started by getting involved in the industry and just trying to make a difference and do my part to try to help,” Hancock said. “We all have different talents, and it takes all of us working together. I did not just want to exist out here farming, I wanted to invest some of my time getting involved and learning about the issues within the industry and trying to make a difference.”
Hancock served as the 2015 President of Cotton Council International and is the current Vice Chairman for Cotton Incorporated. He also serves as a director of New Home Coop Gin after serving as chairman for 12 years. He is a member of Plains Cotton Cooperative Association’s Delegate Body and Marketing Pool Committee. Hancock also has served as a delegate to the National Cotton Council of America and participated in the Policy Education Program. He is serving as the current Chairman of CCI.
Cotton Council International is the export promotion arm of the National Cotton Council of America (NCC). NCC is the trade association that represents all seven segments of the U.S. cotton industry: producers, merchants, cottonseed handlers, manufacturers, ginners, warehouses, and cooperatives. As the promoter of U.S. cotton in foreign markets, CCI plays the lead role in educating and strengthening the market for U.S. grown cotton and cotton products around the world.
In his role as president, Dahlen had the opportunity to represent CCI wherever he went. He and the rest of the board successfully hired Bruce Atherly, the new executive director for the organization. He attended various events and meetings around the world and got to tell the story of U.S. cotton. One of the major trips he went on this past year was to the Cotton Days events in South Korea, Japan, Taiwan and Thailand.
“One thing I remember that was really neat from the trip was their consumers’ irresistible energy and enthusiasm for Cotton USA, the brand for CCI,” Hancock said. “They were all that way, everywhere we went. I would have liked to have brought back the enthusiasm and been able to show producers and friends here that what we are doing really makes a difference.”
On these trips, Hancock said he also was able to meet with mill owners and industry leaders in those countries and find out what U.S. cotton producers are doing right and what areas need improvement. He said they would bring this information back to the council to see if anything could be improved.
“What I have enjoyed the most is when I get the chance to talk with mill owners and their agents,” Hancock said. “They are buying hundreds of thousands of bales of our cotton, and I really got to engage them and visit with them, thanking them for their business. I think they know and feel we really want to do a good job for them. We want to make sure we are producing high quality superior cotton for them. We want to make sure that when our cotton gets there it is what they thought it was going to be.”
He also was able to express the problems and challenges U.S. cotton producers are facing today and tried to drive home the point that the cost of production is above what producers are receiving for their cotton. He also conveyed to them how these low prices will impact planting decisions in the spring of 2016.
Throughout his involvement in the various organizations, Hancock has been able to travel to 12 different countries. These include Dubai, Turkey, Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Peru, South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Thailand, China, and Germany. Hancock said he would not have been able to serve like he has without the support of his family.
“One thing is for sure, there is no way I could serve and do what I do without the support of my wife, Jody,” Hancock said. “She has been very supportive and does not mind me being gone serving the industry. My son, Matt, along with our foreman Abel Escobedo and several of his family members, also help keep an eye on things when I am away. I also have really good quality people working for me that have been with me a long time.”
Hancock said his farm operation truly is a family affair. Both of his sons have chosen to carry on the family tradition and farm. His sister is a Correspondent Banker with City Bank in Lubbock, Texas, and takes care of the books for his farming operation. His father still helps and offers his input on the operation. Hancock said he enjoys getting to work closely with his sons and feels very blessed that most of his family lives in the Lubbock area.
“The main thing I enjoy is just getting to be around each other and spend time together,” Hancock said. “I get to watch them farm and be where I was years ago. My greatest blessing though would have to be watching and getting to see my granddaughter, Cora, being raised on the farm. A neat aspect is my kids get to experience what I did in life growing up.” Hancock said his major concern would be the current challenges our industry is facing at the moment.
“Past generations have had tough times and endured,” Hancock said. “I am not sure how, but if we all pull together we can persevere through the tough times we are facing now. Some way, some how.” Hancock said he has worked hard to take care of the land for the next generation, just like his father and grandfather did for him.
“We need to be good stewards of the land, and our most important reason for being good stewards and taking care of the soil is not only our kids, but for our grandchildren and future generations.” Hancock said it is going to take everybody working together to make a difference. “This includes individuals, the grassroots organizations like Plains Cotton Growers and Southwest Council of Agribusiness, and others all the way up the line to Washington.”
“We can all make a difference if we try and just step into the arena,” Hancock said. “It could be as easy as telling Steve Verett at Plains Cotton Growers, Inc., you are willing to serve, just like I did many years ago. He will plug you in somewhere and you never know where it is going to lead you. I would have never dreamed that I would have been able to serve the industry like I have. I hope that I have left some footprints along the way that have made a difference. That’s all we can do.”
Carlos Garcia Elected to Serve CCI
Carlos Garcia, PCCA’s Export Sales Manager, was elected to serve as a director of Cotton Council International (CCI). Garcia has been involved with CCI since he began working at PCCA.
“Since CCI is the global marketing arm of the U.S. cotton industry, I have been involved with CCI indirectly since I started working
in the export department at PCCA in 2000,” Garcia said. “I attended my first biennial Sourcing USA Summit in 2002 where CCI brought together over 400 buyers of U.S. cotton from all over the world to Scottsdale, Arizona.” Garcia also has been involved when CCI brings trade groups to Lubbock.
“Every year, CCI brings two groups of customers to Lubbock through its Orientation Tour and Special Trade Missions,” Garcia said. “CCI also sponsors an Executive Delegation as well as other educational and promotional programs overseas that I have had the privilege of participating in throughout the years.”
In his new role with CCI, Garcia and the other 21 directors will help guide and support the affairs and promotional efforts of CCI. In addition to this, Garcia will serve on the Export Promotions Committee.
“This committee tries to predict cotton consumption, production and import trends for the next 10 years,” Garcia said. “We pinpoint the markets that will be big importers of cotton, and more specifically U.S. cotton. By recognizing these markets and their current and future potential, it allows us to identify where we should focus our industry-wide promotion efforts.”
Garcia said he is looking forward to continuing to work with the members and staff of CCI. He said it is important that PCCA is involved with CCI because it ensures the unique issues our members face will be represented when decisions are made.
“I will continue to tell cotton’s story, especially from the point of view of our members,” Garcia said. “Hopefully we can regain some of the market share cotton has lost to man-made fibers and continue to try to add value to our member’s cotton.”