The National Cotton Council actively weighs in on legislation and regulations affecting U.S. cotton industry viability.
⬛ What about key legislative measures?
The Senate and House agriculture committees have made climate policy a priority (the Growing Climate Solutions Act passed the Senate). Those committees also will begin to set the stage for the 2023 farm bill by reviewing 2018 farm law to determine areas for improvement.
Regarding supply chain challenges, the cotton industry is pleased with the impending passage of the Ocean Shipping Reform Act that addresses issues with ocean carriers, shortage of containers, container delays and port congestion. The NCC also supported several regulatory remedies to the current trucking shortage by asking the Biden Administration to: 1) allow drivers under the age of 21 to get a commercial driver’s license (CDL) and operate on all state/federal roadways; 2) delay implementation of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s Entry Level Driver Training requirements for at least two years; and 3) increase the duration of the Farm-Related Restricted CDL program from 180 days to 270 days. The NCC also supported the DRIVE Safe pilot program that was enacted into law enabling qualified 18-20-year-old CDL holders (with the right safety, training and technology) to drive in interstate commerce.
The cotton industry was pleased with the early 2021, House-passed “Farm Workforce Modernization Act” that included earned legal status, H-2A improvements and mandatory E-Verify provisions. While the Senate has yet to take any action, we are hopeful that Congress can pass a workable agricultural labor bill in 2022.
Throughout 2021, the NCC cosigned numerous letters and conducted Congressional outreach to preserve tax policy provisions important to producers. Among harmful changes that have been avoided thus far are: halving the estate tax exemption, elimination of stepped-up basis, limiting 1031 tax exchanges, limiting grantor trusts, onerous IRS reporting by banks and mark to market tax.
⬛ How about trade and regulatory challenges?
In the trade arena, the NCC monitored the progress of U.S. cotton exports under the China Phase One agreement. In addition, the importance of trade in the Western Hemisphere was emphasized, particularly the preservation of the textile rules of origin in the CAFTA-DR agreement.
Numerous regulatory issues are being monitored including the EPA/Corps of Engineers’ proposal to rewrite the Navigable Waters Protection Rule. The NCC has been in stakeholder sessions and was to submit comments on that proposal by Feb. 7 as a new rule probably will be finalized in 2022. The NCC also is working with EPA, USDA and Congress to preserve numerous plant protection products, including the current five-year dicamba label.
The NCC’s issues monitoring and management is boosted significantly by a well-funded Committee For the Advancement of Cotton (CAC). Industry members are urged to contribute to the CAC as the 2022 mid-term elections will bring 50+ new Congressional Members that we must build relationships with and educate on key cotton issues and priorities.
Gary Adams is president/CEO of the National Cotton Council of America.