A BRIEF HISTORY
Albemarle Cotton Growers Cooperative, Inc. is an agricultural cooperative association organized to associate its members and others for the cooperative marketing of cotton and other agricultural products, financing, and distributing of agricultural products for their mutual benefit, and for the carrying on of any activity necessary, convenient or proper for the accomplishment of such purpose. Its members are primarily farmers in the Albemarle area of North Carolina.
In January 1980, an association of cotton growers in Chowan County, North Carolina requested the assistance of the Cooperative Development Division of the Economics, Statistics, and Cooperatives Service in determining the feasibility of a local grower-owned cotton-ginning facility. With the Albemarle cotton growers hauling their cotton to distant gins, under costly and dangerous conditions, the acquisition of a local gin would tend to reduce both the expense and danger involved in transporting cotton while substituting a profitable crop in the growers' peanut rotation cycle.
Activities conducted as part of the groups request included: a sample survey of 44 growers from three counties of eastern North Carolina regarding their interest in producing cotton; accumulation of data on facility and equipment specification and costs, average operating costs of ginning plants, loan and member equity requirements: cash flow analysis, returns on investments, and rotation crop gains. This process also included several field visits by what is known now as the FSA staff to local ginning sites, meeting with growers, and local farm operations. This aided in determining the need for, and interest in cooperative organization. Additionally, potential members were advised on the legal, financial, and managerial elements of the cooperative formation.
The study showed that cotton enterprises were undergoing a revitalization in the Albemarle area of North Carolina. A boll weevil eradication program coupled with an increasing industry demand for cotton fiber showed this enterprise to be a profitable alternative for the area farmers. It was determined that a local gin would impede optimum cotton production in the area. Additionally, local growers had been rotating corn with their peanuts. Unfortunately,the escalation in production costs in corn combined with average yields had caused corn, as a rotation crop, to be an income loss to peanut enterprises. The study concluded the establishment of a grower-owned cotton-ginning facility in the Albemarle area was economically feasible.
Shortly after that time, a committee was organized and initiated it's efforts to incorporate the association as a stock cooperative, to be charted under the name Albemarle Cotton Growers Cooperative, Inc. The cooperative purchased an existing functional ginning plant from Bethel, North Carolina and relocated it to the Albemarle area. Under the close supervision of an established gin equipment expert, local farmers erected and operated the gin plant at its'current location in the community of Rocky Hock, North Carolina.
The first year of operation in 1980 resulted in 35 gin patrons and 1,162 bales of cotton ginned at the facility. By 1984. Albemarle was servicing 89 cotton producers and had ginned 8,167 bales of cotton! The need for an additional cotton ginning plant became apparent. The cooperative built a second plant at the existing site. To further meet the demands of efficiency and service to it's members, a new, high-capacity gin plant was erected in 2002, replacing the former plants.
Albemarle is committed to providing quality ginning and baled cotton storage services to over 100 active cotton producers, currently producing an average of 35,000 bales per year. Operational activities include the marketing of cottonseed, cotton, cotton by-products, and warehousing services. The operation of Albemarle Cotton Growers Cooperative, Inc. has proven that a grower-owned cotton ginning facility has been economically feasible to our area.
Fondly referred to as "King Cotton", this crop continues to be profitable for Albemarle's area producers. Support your local cotton producers. Buy America...buy cotton...the fabric of our lives.