Due to the ongoing strong post-harvest demand for U.S. raw cotton, the National Cotton Council is increasing its emphasis on improving the flow of lint from the gin to the textile mill.
What is being done?
The NCC’s Cotton Flow Study Committee established priorities that emanated from the Vision 21 project’s recommendations. Several high priority recommendations became part of the NCC’s policy development process that resulted in their adoption during the NCC’s 2011 annual meeting.
One of those policies directs the NCC to a) investigate what constitutes appropriate rewards for exceptional performance as well as penalties for non-performance and b) urge the organizations responsible for cotton trade rules to be more creative when reviewing and drafting those rules. Because cotton trade rules normally shape contracts between buyers and sellers, it is very important that specific trade rule clauses do not in-advertently penalize warehouses that strive to provide exceptional performance.
The resolution’s overarching objective is to shape a service-based revenue stream that promotes industry profitability and maintains U.S. cotton’s international competitiveness. The Cotton Flow Study Committee and NCC delegates believe this is necessary as the world’s cotton market conditions undeniably signal the importance of prompt delivery and magnify the economic losses incurred when shipments are delayed.
What’s the resolution’s status?
To address this flow-shipment resolution, the NCC re-activated its Performance and Standards Task Force. Chaired by Alabama ginner Bobby Greene, the task force met recently to share ideas, concepts and proposals that could help the industry implement that policy. The task force put forth 12 proposals. Included, for example, was a call to: 1) restructure warehouse tariffs to place less emphasis on storage and more emphasis on performance; 2) create longer gin runs such as block ginning whereby a systems approach could be utilized to better coordinate grower merchandising/ginning/warehousing processes; and 3) broaden bale selection processes such as using four-bale merchandising blocks and/or module averaging. Improved communication and new technology throughout the bale merchandising chain will be key to implementing these proposals. For example, better early communication means warehouses can better manage incoming bales, thus creating the opportunity to segregate shippers’ bales within warehouses.
Now that dialogue has been initiated, industry leaders from the NCC’s interest organizations are being urged to review the 12 proposals during upcoming meetings. The proposals are available as a NCC members-only document on the NCC Web site’s flow-shipment page, http://www.cotton.org/tech/flow/index.cfm. Then, expectations are that the task force will meet again with the goal of getting the most time-sensitive proposals refined before being considered at the NCC Mid-Year Board meeting in August. Consensus on these flow policies will help ensure the U.S. cotton pipeline does not run dry at harvest and that cotton will be shipped in a timely manner to our domestic and overseas customers.
Mark Lange is president and chief executive officer for the National Cotton Council of America. He and other NCC leaders contribute columns on this Cotton Farming page.