By Mark Lange
The National Cotton Council continues its reliance on strong industry leaders to help it manage industry issues, including ensuring that cotton’s interests are considered in our nation’s capital.
How is the National Cotton Council ensuring leadership continuity?
Over the past three decades, agribusiness firms’ grants to The Cotton Foundation have enabled the NCC to conduct initiatives aimed at equipping producers and other industry members with information and training that can help them provide vision, shape industry policy/programs and communicate effectively on U.S. cotton’s behalf. The programs have been a tremendous boost to the NCC’s efforts in navigating the ever challenging political and regulatory maze.
What are the various programs?
The industry benefits from former and current initiatives. Although the Cotton Leadership and Cotton Coalition Professional Develop-ment programs no longer exist, they helped supply the U.S. cotton industry with many effective leaders, some of whom are still serving at the regional and national levels.
Currently, the Policy Education Program (PEP) annually enables up to four producers from each major Cot-ton Belt region to learn more about the NCC’s policy development and implementation pro-cess and receive communications training. These participants, who have limited knowledge of or exposure to the NCC, also attend our annual meeting and visit the NCC’s operations in Washington, D.C., where they meet with key Congressional members and government agency officials. More than 160 NCC producer members have participated in the PEP program – and many have escalated their involvement in NCC activities, including taking on leadership roles. The NCC also recently launched the Emerging Leaders Program (see page 29). Its goal is to give participants an in-depth look at the U.S. cotton industry infrastructure and the business and political arenas in which it operates. The program, which will include a class comprised of producers and other industry members, also will provide intense professional development, including basic communication skills training.
Two other Cotton Foundation programs are cultivating producer leadership in unique ways. The Multi-Commodity Education Program offers an annual exchange between Sunbelt and Midwest/Far West commodity producers to get acquainted with the policy and production issues each group faces – with an overriding goal of enhancing U.S. agriculture’s voice in Washington, D.C. Similarly, since its inception in 1989, the Producer Information Exchange (P.I.E.) program has enabled more than 900 cotton producers to travel to one of the four specific Cotton Belt production regions to observe different innovative production techniques. However, during the face-to-face interaction with their peers, P.I.E. participants often discuss important industry issues and elevate their awareness of mutual concerns and opportunities.
It is vitally important for our industry to have a continuity of effective leaders. We strongly encourage industry participation in these programs. For more information about current programs, contact your local NCC Member Service representative or the organization’s Memphis office by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or (901) 274-9030.
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.