While trade and farm policy garner significant attention, the National Cotton Council devotes
considerable energy to other legislative and regulatory matters affecting the U.S. cotton industry’s health.
Which legislation received a focus this year?
As always, the NCC provides input on and monitoring of legislation development, weighing in as necessary. For example, we responded to a global warming questionnaire from the House Agriculture Committee in preparation for imminent climate change legislation. Then, we monitored the development of the American Clean Energy and Security Act that would implement a cap-and-trade program to reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. Although there were concessions in the bill for agriculture, the NCC is not supporting this legislation as proposed because the higher production costs for each U.S. cotton sector would far outweigh any benefits.
In another arena, industry support for the new Derivatives Markets Transparency and Account-ability Act of 2009 was conveyed in testimony at a House Agriculture Commit-tee hearing. Simultaneously, the NCC asked the Commodity Futures Trading Com-mission chairman to publish its investigation findings into the March 2008 cotton futures market events. The NCC also urged a House Agriculture Committee panel to continue its oversight of risk management, including the federal crop insurance program, to ensure a meaningful tool is available for producers. NCC Chairman Jay Hardwick recently communicated to lawmakers about the weather’s devastating effects on the 2009 Mid-South cotton crop.
What about regulations and education?
The NCC is active on numerous regulatory matters – from food safety to Fomesafen, the latter an important product for managing resistant pigweed in the Mid-South and Southeast. On food safety, NCC members were urged to convey serious concerns to their Congressional members regarding a House bill that would have significantly expanded the Food and Drug Administration’s authority to regulate and oversee on-farm production activities. In anticipation of Senate action on food safety, the NCC and 25 other agricultural groups sent a letter to a Senate committee recommending or endorsing certain provisions of S. 510.
NCC also has been actively engaged in opposition to a Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals decision which vacated an EPA rule exempting certain pesticide applications from the requirement of Clean Water Act permits. Although the case involved application directly to, over or near water bodies, EPA has identified several scenarios that will affect production agriculture. The court rejected a request for a case rehearing so the NCC and other agriculture and pesticide organizations are appealing to the Supreme Court.
The Cotton Foundation deserves credit for supporting a NCC Web server dedicated to cotton-related education. Among recent additions is a weed resistance video to our online Weed Resistance Learning Module; the English/Spanish streaming presentations for our “Contamination-Free Cotton: Keep It Clean and Pure” campaign and the “Bale Packaging: Eliminating Broken Bale Ties” video. Numerous other educational tools are posted on our Web site, such as the recent “Recommendations for Handling Seed Cotton Exposed to Excessive Rainfall” document.
Mark Lange is president and chief executive officer for the National Cotton Council of America. He and other NCC leaders contribute columns on this page.