TIFTON, Ga. — The Georgia Cotton Commission’s Inaugural Trustees Awards were presented at the 2023 Georgia Cotton Commission Annual Meeting January 25 in Tifton. The Trustees Awards are awarded to individuals who have dedicated themselves to the advancement of the cotton industry in Georgia. Producers, research and extension specialists and other cotton industry associates of high character and integrity who have given exceptional service to the cotton industry are eligible to receive this award.
The award was named after the Georgia Colonial Trustees’ who set out to create an agricultural colony to expedite agriculture productivity, which led to a ten acre “Trustees’ Garden” to display “modern” farming techniques. The Trustees’ Garden was established in 1734 in Savannah, Georgia. Many crops were experimented with that first year, but cotton was the crop that thrived and has been planted in Georgia every year since.
The recipients of this year’s Trustees’ Awards are Louie Perry, Jr. of Moultrie and Mike Lucas of Cochran.
Louie Perry, Jr. began his farming career in partnership with his father on Pineywoods Farms in Moultrie, Georgia in 1962. His great-great grandfather established Pineywoods with a 490-acre land grant from the state of Georgia in 1830 and over the decades, the acreage has expanded to 1,300.
Perry is the fifth generation farmer to own, operate and live on this farm, which has always produced cotton. In fact, Pineywoods Farms is the oldest farm to grow cotton in the southern part of the state. In his youth, Perry began raising purebred limousine and commercial cattle, which he continues today in addition to growing cotton, peanuts, grain, hay, corn and tobacco.
Perry attended the University of Georgia in Athens, and majored in Agribusiness. He settled down with his wife, Becky, and together they raised their children and are now enjoying their grandchildren. The Perrys are members of First Presbyterian Church of Moultrie.
Through his forty-eight year farming career, Perry received a number of ag awards and remains extremely active with numerous agriculture groups. Some of his service has included Chairman of Georgia Cotton Commission Board from 2000 to 2012, former President of Southern Cotton Growers, Inc., producer delegate and board advisor to the National Cotton Council (NCC), director of Cotton Incorporated and served as Chairman in 2006 and president of the Georgia Cattleman’s Association. Since age thirteen, Perry maintained his membership with the Colquitt County Farm Bureau and currently serves on their board. He continues to volunteer with many local organizations.
Mike Lucas grew up in Cochran, Georgia and after graduating from Bleckley County High School, he began working on his grandfather’s farm as a teenager. From that early experience, he decided upon farming as his chosen path.
Lucas’ original 105-acre farm, passed to him by his grandfather, has expanded to over 500 acres today. It is a diversified row crop operation featuring major crops of cotton, peanuts, wheat and soybeans. His farm also includes pasture for beef cattle and a small cow/calf operation. Lucas’ family represents the third generation on this farm.
Lucas is a dedicated member of his Bleckley County community and stays active through a variety of meaningful volunteer roles. Throughout his years of service to agriculture, he served as director of the Georgia Cotton Commission and Chairman from 2012 to 2017, director of the Cotton Board and Southern Cotton Growers and producer delegate of the National Cotton Council. He also served as an active volunteer with the Bleckley County Farm Bureau, Georgia Farm Bureau, Bleckley County FSA committee, Bleckley County Extension/4-H County Board member and member on the Bleckley County Industrial Development Authority board. He currently serves as the Secretary/Treasurer of the Boll Weevil Eradication Foundation of Georgia, Inc.
Lucas is married to the former Sharon Britton, who also grew up in Cochran, and they are members of Salem Baptist Church. Their son Blake is an alumni of the University of Massachusetts and Ross University and is currently a veterinarian in Elizabeth City, North Carolina.
The Georgia Cotton Commission is a producer-funded organization located in Perry, Georgia. The Commission began in 1965. Georgia cotton producers pay an assessment enabling the Commission to invest in programs of research, promotion, and education on behalf of all cotton producers of Georgia. For more information about the Georgia Cotton Commission please call 478-988-4235 or on the web at www.georgiacottoncommission.org.
–Taylor Sills, Georgia Cotton Commission