AUSTIN, Texas – James F. “Jimmy” Dodson, chairman of the Farm Credit Bank of Texas (FCBT) Board of Directors, is among the visionaries recognized nationally through Farm Credit 100 Fresh Perspectives, a search to identify 100 leaders who are changing rural communities and agriculture for the better. The honorees were announced on March 15, National Ag Day, at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.
Farm Credit launched the program as part of its 100th anniversary of service to rural communities and agriculture. Nominations closed in December for the program, which received nearly 1,100 submissions nationwide.
Of the final 100 honorees, one distinguished visionary from each of 10 categories will receive $10,000 to further his or her contributions to thriving rural communities and agriculture. The top 10 honorees will be recognized during a special event in June at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.
Dodson was named a Fresh Perspectives honoree in the Leadership (21 and Up) category. The third-generation farmer grows cotton, corn, wheat and milo and operates a seed sales business in Robstown, Texas. In February he received the highest honor from the National Cotton Council of America, the Harry S. Baker Distinguished Service Award, for his work on behalf of the cotton industry. Previously, he received Cotton Grower magazine’s 2014 Cotton Achievement Award and the 2009 Southwest Region Farm Press High Cotton Award.
He serves on the boards of the Texas Agricultural Cooperative Council and the Gulf Coast Cooperative, and is past chairman of American Cotton Producers, the Cotton Foundation and the National Cotton Council of America. He also is a former director of Cotton Incorporated, and a founding member of Cotton LEADS, an alliance of U.S. and Australian producers committed to sustainable, responsible cotton production.
Dodson joined the FCBT board in 2003 and has been board chairman since 2012. He also serves on the national Farm Credit Council board, chairs the Tenth District Farm Credit Council, and is a former board chairman of Texas AgFinance, now Texas Farm Credit, where he has been a member since 1974.
Four other Texans also were named honorees in the Farm Credit 100 Fresh Perspectives program:
Joshua Eilers of Austin is the national Top 10 winner in the Beginning Farmer or Rancher Achievement category. A U.S. Army Ranger veteran, Eilers served in Iraq and Afghanistan before starting Ranger Cattle, a purebred Wagyu seedstock and beef operation, in 2011. He started raising cattle during his freshman year at the University of Texas, and now sells his beef online, at a local farmers market and to several Austin restaurants. He also participates in Homegrown by Heroes, a labeling program launched by the Farmer Veteran Coalition with support from Farm Credit. Eilers is a member of Capital Farm Credit.
Aaron Alejandro of Wichita Falls was honored in the Leadership (21 and Up) category. He is executive director of the Texas FFA Foundation, where he has secured significant funding, allowing the organization to invest in agricultural science education and help young people become good stewards and leaders.
Aislynn Campbell of Corpus Christi was recognized in the Rural and Urban Connection category. She founded the Corpus Christi Downtown Farmers Market in 2012, and the following year founded GROW Local South Texas, a nonprofit organization with a mission to cultivate a healthy community by promoting a local-food system and improving access to nutritious, affordable foods.
Steve Verett of Lubbock was honored in the Rural Policy Influence category. He is executive vice president of Plains Cotton Growers Inc., which represents farmers in 41 counties who produce up to 30 percent of the U.S. cotton crop. He also is treasurer of the Southwest Council of Agribusiness and past chairman of the Lubbock Chamber of Commerce. A partner in a family farm that produces cotton, wheat and sorghum, Verett is a member of Capital Farm Credit.
Headquartered in Austin, Farm Credit Bank of Texas is a $20 billion cooperatively owned wholesale bank that provides funding and operational support to 14 rural lending cooperatives in five states. The bank also participates in capital markets loans to agribusinesses and rural infrastructure providers.
Farm Credit Bank of Texas and its affiliated lenders are part of the Farm Credit System, a nationwide network of cooperatives established in 1916. This year Farm Credit is celebrating its first century of supporting rural communities and agriculture.