The Bossier Banner reported on the best African-American farmers in Bossier communities in its September 14, 1938 issue.

“C. J. Cohn, Benton Negro agricultural teacher, has lately selected the superior Negro farmers of Benton and Midway communities for 1938.  This is an annual affair among the Negro farmers of these communities and much interest as well as improvement is noticed each year.”

“”Over 30 farmers made the tour with Cohn and four judges, who scored each farm according to the following score card:  1. Home ownership; 2. Convenient home; 3. Active member of the C.F.A.I.A. or Farm Bureau organizations; 4. Must have received systematic training from agricultural teacher; 5. Carried out at least ten improved practices; 6. Must be carrying a live-at-home program; 7. Carry out a farm shop program; 8. Must be carrying out a soil improvement program.”

“Rodic Lee of the Benton community and Newton Cook of the Midway community were selected superior farmers of their respective.  This will mark two consecutive years these two farmers have led their communities in better methods of farming.  This is a high and coveted honor awarded to one farmer in the two communities each year.”

“For being chosen superior farmers Lee and Cook will be awarded a certificate of merit at the annual fifth district meeting next summer, to be held at Rural Normal, Grambling, by the department of agriculture of Southern University.”

“The six highest ranking farmers in the communities are as follows: Rodic Lee, Newton Cook, Wash Player, Jim Mills, Ed Coleman and Jake Coleman.  Cohn states that the hill farmers of North Bossier Parish will harvest one of the largest feed and food crops in the history of this section, however, the cash crop (cotton) is very poor, he says.”

An article in the August 29, 1940 issue of the Bossier Banner reflected an effort to improve cotton production.

“The Benton, Midway and Longview (Negro) communities’ one-variety cotton improvement organizations were recently notified by the Agricultural Marketing Service of the U.S.D.A. that their applications for free classing and market news services, authorized by 75th Congress, have been approved.”

“C. J. Cohn, Negro agriculturist, is the group representative of the colored associations.  Instruction in taking samples, making cotton classification memorandum and shipping of samples have already been made, states Cohn.”

“Frank Anderson, Jr., president of the Benton organization, has make arrangements for special gin days for the group.  All members of the one-variety cotton associations planted Delta Pineland 11-A for 1940.  In the three organizations there are 42 farmers who planted a total of 334 acres of cotton.”

“This is the only organization of its kind operated by Negroes in the United States, except one county in southern Arkansas.  The purpose of this organization is to improve the quality and staple length of American cotton.  Staple length is one of the important indicators of the spinning utility of cotton.  The longer staples are required for extra fine and extra strength and even in the coarser yarns, where the shorter staples are ordinarily used, the longer staples of the same grade and character usually produce superior textile materials, at somewhat lower labor and overhead costs, as compared with similar materials made from shorter staples.  Mainly for these reasons the longer staple cottons sell for a higher price than the shorter staples of the same grade and character, Cohn says.”

Visit the Bossier Parish Library Historical Center to find out more about the valuable contributions made by African-Americans to Bossier Parish history.

Ann Middleton is Director of the Bossier Parish Library Historical Center. She can be reached at (318) 746-7717 or amiddlet@state.lib.la.us.