Texas Cotton Industry Mourns The Death Of Economist Carl Anderson


    Dr. Carl Anderson, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service specialist emeritus and agricultural economics professor, served the Texas A&M University System for 36 years. Anderson passed away Aug. 30 at the age of 83. (Texas A&M AgriLife photo)

    COLLEGE STATION – Dr. Carl Anderson, considered by his peers as Texas’ leading cotton marketing authority and one of the nation’s leading cotton analysts, passed away Aug. 30 at the age of 83.

    Thirty years of his A&M System service was as leader of Extension education to help cotton farmers successfully market their crops and manage risk.

    “Dr. Carl Anderson was an icon in the cotton industry,” said Dr. Parr Rosson, head of the department of agricultural economics at Texas A&M, College Station.  “His more than four decades of service to the nation, the Texas A&M University System and the department of agricultural economics featured pioneering work in cotton marketing and producer risk management.  Though retired for the past 10 years, Dr. Anderson was highly active, conducting numerous educational programs and research activities.  His contributions to the Texas cotton industry and AgriLife Extension are unparalleled.”

    “Throughout his career Dr. Carl Anderson strove to improve the lives of Texas farmers and ranchers by providing the best economic analysis and information available through newsletters, farm press publications, applied research and educational presentations,” said Dr. Mark Waller, AgriLife Extension economics program leader, College Station. “His leadership, tireless commitment to quality and his reputation as a cotton marketing specialist earned the admiration of his extension counterparts and cotton industry professionals across the South.  He will be missed.”

    Anderson’s many achievements included induction into the department’s Tyrus R. Timm Honor Registry, which recognizes distinguished alumni, plus receiving the Texas A&M College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Outstanding Alumni award, Rosson said.

    Anderson grew up in Taylor during the Great Depression.

    “I had to hoe Johnson grass and pick cotton. That was hot, hard work,” recalled Anderson during a 2004 interview prior to his retirement. “I said to myself, ‘this thinking part is pretty easy.'”

    Anderson said while working on the family farm he saw a need for better marketing strategies for agricultural commodities – particularly cotton.

    “I thought one of the weaknesses was marketing,” said Anderson, who credited the GI Bill for allowing him to attend college. “You can work hard, and a farm takes hard work, but you’ve got to handle your operation as a business.”

    Anderson earned his bachelor’s degree in agricultural economics from Texas A&M in 1958, following service in the Army. He went on to earn his master’s at Louisiana State University in 1960 and his doctorate at Texas A&M in 1969.

    In the 1970s, as a senior economist with the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, he developed price risk management programs for cattle feedlot owners. Texas’ cattle feeding industry was also in the beginning stages and state officials were concerned about how much money it would take to set up the infrastructure and financing.

    “We did analysis on interest rates and price-risk management,” Anderson said in 2004. “We didn’t have commodity options back then. I got really involved with bank lenders. There was deep concern that the banks would go broke. On the other hand, there was a 25 cent per 100 pounds discount for shipping grain sorghum to Houston. Back then, cattle were shipped and fattened in the Midwest.

    “Cattle feeding in Texas would later open up a lot of opportunity for farmers in the Panhandle. It’s one of the largest value-added industries in agriculture when you include the processing plants, the transportation and the other segments it supports.”

    In the 1980s, Anderson and colleagues developed a series of marketing education programs on cotton, grain and livestock pricing and risk management that provided the background for the award-winning Texas Extension Agricultural Economics Master Marketer program. His workshops allowed Extension agents throughout the South to prepare farmers for changes in the U.S. farm bill.

    Anderson advised the Congressional Budget Office staff about cotton issues beginning in 1989 and presented dozens of papers at cotton conferences that influenced the industry as a whole. He also led a group of Extension economists in tabulating economic drought loss estimates for Texas used by state and federal agricultural agencies.

    A prolific writer, Anderson had more than 450 articles published in the popular press and served as editor of the “Agriculture in Texas” section of the Texas Almanac from 1978 to 2010.

    Among his many career accomplishments, Anderson was named Leader of the Year in Service to Texas Agriculture by Progressive Farmer magazine in 1996. He was a member of the New York Cotton Exchange Board of Managers from 1986-1993, and a member of The Cotton Digest International Advisory Board. He was a regular presenter on industry situation and outlook at U.S. and world cotton meetings.

    Anderson is survived by his wife, Shirley, his daughter Caroline Anderson Rydell, as well as son-in-law Jim Rydell and two grandchildren.

    Visitation is Tuesday from 6-8 p.m. at Memorial Funeral Chapel, 1515 South College Ave., Bryan.  Services will be held at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday at First United Methodist Church, 506 East 28th St. in Bryan. Prior to services, burial will be at the Aggie Field of Honor in College Station.

    In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Carl G. Anderson Graduate Assistantship in Agricultural Economics in care of the Texas A&M Foundation. For a downloadable donation form, visit

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