Cotton gins disappearing as acreage decreases in Arkansas

Cotton gins disappearing as acreage decreases in Arkansas
(Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT)

POINSETT COUNTY, AR (KAIT) - Cotton gins are disappearing as Arkansas farmers abandon cotton for more profitable crops.

According to a recent report, the number of gins in the state has fallen from 86 to 26 in the past 15 years.

The National Agricultural Statistics Service reports that nine gins closed in Arkansas in 2014 alone.

About 1 million acres of cotton were planted in Arkansas in 2000. The U.S. Department of Agriculture says that number has fallen to a projected 330,000 acres for 2016.

This greatly impacts local cotton gins because the number of cotton acreage directly affects the amount of bales they can generate.

The fewer bales generated, the lower the income and the more likely it is for a gin to close.

Fred Couch is the manager of the Rabbit Ridge Gin , and he said the closing of more gins affects everyone.

"As those people have to close their doors to supply us with parts, then if cotton comes back, even if we are able to exist as a gin, receiving parts and help to do some repairs, we may be in trouble," said Couch.

Couch said in 2007 his company was able to produce over 32,000 bales of cotton.

In 2015, they were only able to produce right at 7,000 bales.

Couch has had to cut shifts and lay off employees but hopes to see cotton make a comeback.

Terry Holland, a farmer who has grown cotton for about 30 years, says he can recall a time when there were 15 to 16 cotton gins in eastern Clay County.

Now, Holland says, there's one.

Modern cotton gins are housed in large warehouses mostly in the state's eastern cotton-producing region.

Copyright 2016 KAIT. All rights reserved.

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