By Kara Bishop
On February 14th, the Farwell community gathered in the high school gymnasium to celebrate the Williamses and their contributions to the cotton industry.
The Williamses have produced cotton near Farwell, Texas, for four generations, according to Southwest Farm Press reporter Shelley Huguley. In the last 10 years they’ve expanded their operation 150 miles north to Dalhart. They produce cotton, corn, wheat and sorghum on roughly 18,000 acres of farmland.
“My involvement with the Williams family began long before I came to work for Plains Cotton Growers,” said Steve Verett, producer in Crosby County and former executive vice president of PCG. “I met Bert first, which is Mark’s dad and one thing that always amazed me is how their family operation supported Bert, Mark, Mark’s two brothers and Bert’s son-in-law. They were all able to live off of one operation and were very successful farmers.”
According to Verett and Shawn Holladay, producer in Dawson County and National Cotton Council chair, Mark was an influential contributor to PCG.
“Mark was always ‘looking over the hill,’ and futuristic in his approach to farming,” Verett added. “He was one of the first farmers to realize the water was depleting in Parmer County and started growing cover crops before we really even called them that.”
Holladay said Mark mentored him and encouraged him to increase his involvement in producer organizations.
“I had been farming for a little over a decade when I began to get involved with Lamesa Cotton Growers,” Holladay added. “It wasn’t long before I expanded into the Plains Cotton Growers organization and Mark really took me under his wing. I owe a lot to him.”
Mark served on many organizations and, according to his friends, “so supportive of his community and industry. If you wanted something done, he would help you.”
He served as American Cotton Producers chairman, Plains Cotton Growers president and was the inaugural Southwest Council of Agribusiness president. Mark fought for the 1996 Farm Bill and remembers standing on stage with House Ag committee Chairman Larry Combest when President Bill Clinton signed it into law.
“I can’t tell you what he means to me personally,” Verett added. “He was on the PCG officer team when we started ramping up our political advocacy. He is a lifelong friend and was a great encouragement to me over the years.”
The Williams farm includes Mark and his sons Ryan, Russel and Reagan, each playing different roles in making the operation successful. And while this award was given to the family, Ryan says it really belongs to his father. “This award is for my dad. He’s the one who deserves it.”
Contributions from Shelley Huguley’s story in Southwest Farm Press were made to this story. Read Huguley’s article here.