The National Cotton Council’s 2019 priorities are aimed at enhancing industry efficiency and economic stability.
What about key policy issues?
■ Two major near-term priorities are pressing Congress to approve legislation that would provide disaster assistance for producers devastated by Hurricanes Florence and Michael and working closely with the U.S. Department of Agriculture on 2018 farm law implementation. Regarding the latter, the NCC is developing a farm law education plan for our members.
Simultaneously, the NCC is communicating with appropriate Congressional leaders on the need to protect the new farm law from any budget challenges — as this budget-neutral farm law will provide producers with a solid financial safety net and improve access to conservation programs.
Monitoring a range of trade issues is another major priority. That includes conveying to the Administration our concerns with China’s retaliatory tariffs and the opportunities and reforms we have identified that can lead to U.S. cotton regaining Chinese market share. We were encouraged by U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer’s recent comments to a House committee that cotton is among products expected to realize substantial increases in Chinese purchases.
What are some other NCC priorities?
■ U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol development continues with a pilot launch planned for summer 2019. This new initiative will enable the U.S. cotton industry to meet national goals regarding sustainability and expand acknowledgement by major textile brands/retailers that U.S. cotton is responsibly produced.
While U.S. cotton producers’ participation in the protocol will demonstrate that they are working continuously to shrink their environmental footprint, the NCC realizes that cotton producers must be profitable. That’s why the Council will keep working to reverse burdensome regulations and preserve critical crop protection products.
For example, the NCC is working closely with the Environmental Protection Agency to minimize unworkable label requirements involving plant protection products and getting in place a practical Waters of the U.S. rule.
Elimination of contamination remains a Council goal. We continue to closely monitor incidences of lint contamination being reported to U.S. cotton’s textile customers, develop seed cotton/lint contamination prevention educational programs, and provide support for research projects for detecting and removing contamination at the gin.
Our Quality Task Force will be forming a committee to assess the market implications of plastic contamination in bales with a 71/72 call and options regarding the classing/reclassing of bales with a 71/72 call.
The NCC will continue to be proactive on getting policies implemented that can enhance cotton’s timely flow to the marketplace. NCC Board-adopted recommendations call for revising the definition for bales that can be counted in the weekly “Bales Made Available for Shipment” reporting.
They also call for requiring industry use of batch files for shipping date requests, which would establish an audit trail of bales for addressing any warehouse performance complaint. NCC staff recently met with USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service to reiterate these policies need to be implemented for the 2019 crop.
We also consulted with them on the required rulemaking process and worked with other industry associations on consolidated comments regarding the rule.
Gary Adams is president/CEO of the National Cotton Council of America. He and other NCC leaders contribute columns on this Cotton Farming page.