The National Cotton Council is helping the U.S. cotton industry confront challenges and seize opportunities so its members can thrive in the global marketplace.
What are key industry challenges for 2022?
Supply chain disruptions, labor availability and sharply higher production costs are being felt by all segments of the U.S. cotton industry. We continue to support actions to help address congestion at West Coast ports and other supply chain logistics affecting both exports and the availability and cost of crop protection inputs. Industry discussions and preparations, which will include the appointment of a NCC Farm Policy Task Force, are beginning for what is expected to be a 2023 farm bill. We anticipate a challenging environment from a budget perspective, and there will be dozens of new Congressional Members to educate on industry issues and priorities following this year’s mid-term elections.
Ensuring trade agreements benefit our industry’s economic well-being will be critical. That includes protecting textile trade policy, including the yarn forward rule of origin in the Central America Free Trade Agreement while seeking policy incentives to help spur greater U.S. investments in the region. Overall trade relations with China will be monitored closely to preserve that important market going forward.
The NCC continues to be proactive on elevating our commodity’s global reputation, including as a timely mover of quality U.S. cotton to customers worldwide. That also involves closely monitoring lint contamination incidents — most of them involving plastic contamination — as reported by our textile customers. I urge our members to make a priority of training their farm and gin employees to watch for such potential contamination sources as module wrap and PET bale strapping. To help, the NCC will be promoting a new standard developed for round module wrap and encouraging producers and gins to use only those wraps that meet the standard.
Other ongoing challenges are the 1) monitoring of the Biden Administration’s review of several regulations and 2) preservation of key technologies and crop protection products for weed, insect and disease control. This includes dicamba, Enlist Duo and glyphosate. Offensive and defensive legal actions are ongoing.
Any significant opportunities?
I believe U.S. cotton’s marketability is improving through the U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol, now in its third year of assuring the textile supply chain that U.S. cotton is sustainable. Widespread participation by producers in this voluntary initiative also will serve as a catalyst to drive the continuous improvements necessary to help our industry achieve the 10-year goals for key environmental indicators. The NCC is looking at ways to streamline enrollment in the Trust Protocol and we need all U.S. cotton producers to get onboard and formally document the best management practices that most of them have been doing since the 1970s. The ultimate benefit is that manufacturers, major brands and retailers will accept that U.S. cotton is responsibly produced and that we are working continuously to shrink our environmental footprint.
As U.S. cotton’s central organization deals with these and other matters that may require compromise by industry members to achieve consensus, I am confident that the NCC’s impressive track record of sound issues management and consistent unity will prevail.
Gary Adams is president/CEO of the National Cotton Council of America.