The annual award, established in 1997, is named for Oscar Johnston, whose vision, genius and tireless efforts were foremost in the organization of and shaping of the NCC. The award is presented to an individual, now deceased, who served the cotton industry, through the NCC, over a significant period of his or her active business career. The award also recognizes those who exerted a positive influence on the industry and who demonstrated character and integrity as well as perseverance and maturation during that service.
Stone, who farmed in Stratford, CA, served as a NCC producer delegate, director and its secretary-treasurer before being named NCC president in 1977. He also had served as the chairman of the NCC’s Producer Steering Committee and was the first chairman of the Committee for the Advancement of Cotton in 1975. In 2005, he was named chairman emeritus of CAC.
NCC Chairman Chuck Coley, who presented the award to Stone’s family, said, “As a Council leader, Jack played a leading role in reconciling regional differences during industry deliberations that resulted in the 1970 farm bill. As the Council’s president, he presided over the activities that led to the enactment of the cotton section of the 1977 farm bill.”
Stone also was the president of the Western Cotton Growers Association, the predecessor to the California Cotton Growers Association, from 1974-77 and 1979-86. In all, Stone served on the board of more than 20 community, farm, academic and water-related organizations, including as president of the Westlands Water District for 17 years.
Coley said Stone’s Westlands service occurred “during the most contentious and difficult periods in the water district’s history.” He noted that Stone led the district through two major droughts, Congressional efforts to reform federal reclamation law, and the beginning of a sustained effort by the critics of agriculture to reduce the water supplies that those communities on the Westside depended on.
A native of Corcoran, CA, Stone graduated from the University of California-Davis in 1939 with a degree in agricultural engineering. He began farming on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley in 1940, but sold his holdings and joined the U.S. Army at the beginning of World War II. After the war, Jack returned to the San Joaquin Valley and began development of the J.G. Stone land company.
In 1973, Cotton Farming Magazine chose Stone as “Cotton Farmer of the Year.” Earlier, the California Polytechnic Crops Club named him the “Outstanding California Agriculturist.” In 1999, he was presented the Council’s Harry S. Baker Distinguished Service award. His alma mater, the University of California – Davis, selected him as one of their “Outstanding Alumni” in their 2005 awards of distinction.
Last year’s Oscar Johnston Lifetime Achievement Award recipient was W.L. “Billy” Carter, Jr., who chaired the American Cotton Producers and served as NCC secretary-treasurer.
National Cotton Council
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