Jimmy Sanford, of Prattville, Ala., is a fifth-generation farmer and businessman, having grown up on the McQueen-Smith family farm in Autauga County, Ala., that has been in operation since 1881. When he enrolled at Auburn University in 1963, Sanford pursued business studies, planning initially not to return to the family farm.
He completed a B.S. in business administration in 1968 and an M.S. in economics in 1971. As part of his thesis project, Sanford designed a computer system for the Autauga Quality Cotton Association in his hometown. It wasn’t long before he incorporated a similar system into his family’s farm, revolutionizing the way it and other farms around the state operated and did business.
Sanford says a key principle he and his family have lived and worked by is to “adopt and adapt.” “The remarkable thing about the McQueen-Smith family is that we have been able to transition. … We had the willingness and ability to adapt.”
Sanford was the 44th president of the National Cotton Council and has served as NCC board chairman, treasurer, vice chairman of its Research and Education program committee and chairman of its Industry/Government Research Committee. Additionally, he served as chairman of The Cotton Foundation and has participated in several industry trade missions to Europe and the Far East for Cotton Council International and USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service.
He is chairperson of HOME Place Farmers, Inc. and a partner in HOME Place Partners. He served as a director of the successful Internet entity, QuickFarm.com. In addition, he has served as president of the Autauga Quality Cotton Commission, Business Council of Alabama, Federal Reserve Bank at Atlanta, Economic Development Partnership of Alabama and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.
Sanford was appointed to the Auburn University Board of Trustees by Gov. Robert Bentley and confirmed by the Senate on March 15, 2012. His service on the board “has been like coming home,” he says.
Sanford is married to Dot Hardage Sanford, a 1970 alumna of Auburn. They have three children: Susan Jones, Catherine Porter and William H. Sanford.