Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Strategic Support For Industry Success

The National Cotton Council has conveyed its FY25 agricultural appropriations request for several programs critical to the success of the U.S. cotton industry.

What are the major recommendations?

gary adams, ncc
Gary Adams, NCC

Our request to House and Senate appropriations committee’s agriculture subcommittees seeks funding across USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), Agricultural Research Service (ARS), Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS), and Farm Service Agency (FSA).

The FAS is vital for international market development and trade-enhancing functions, and the NCC is requesting adequate funding to ensure they are adequately staffed to conduct these important functions. The NCC also seeks $200 million to fund the Market Access Program and $34.5 million for the Foreign Market Development Program, both of which support the activities of Cotton Council International whose mission is to maintain and expand the U.S. raw cotton and cotton product exports. The NCC also asked for $4 million in funding to help AMS upgrade its cotton classing offices — laboratories essential to maintaining U.S. cotton’s fiber quality/reliability reputation.

The NCC asked for $4 million in funding to help AMS upgrade its cotton classing offices.

The NCC also seeks 1) $15.73 million for the APHIS’s Cotton Pest Account to ensure active boll weevil eradication efforts in the National Buffer Zone remain funded and 2) sufficient funding for the FSA to make up to $30 million in loans to eligible producer-controlled organizations conducting Boll Weevil Eradication Program efforts. Regarding other pest-related funding requests, the NCC is urging 1) level funding for Cotton Blue Disease research and suggests renaming the account to Exotic Pathogens of Cotton to encompass other diseases that threaten U.S. cotton and 2) $2 million (a $1 million increase) for research aimed at controlling the Cotton Seed Bug. The NCC has conservatively estimated potential damages of $84 million annually in the westernmost cotton-producing states (CA, AZ, and NM) should the Cotton Seed Bug not be controlled and eradicated. The NCC has suggested that the $1 million increase in funds be divided between research programs at the University of Florida and the University of California to take advantage of shared resources, collaboration, and past experiences to produce results efficiently.

Any other research support being sought?

The NCC seeks a $1.8 million increase to ensure the preservation of the National Cotton Germplasm Collection and an additional $3 million for critical building renovations to protect the integrity of the National Collection. With no increase in funding since 2002, the National Cotton Germplasm Collection is in dire need of additional support to continue its operation. The Collection houses seed stock that has allowed researchers and breeders to identify genetic traits that are resistant to FOV4, bacterial blight, and reniform nematode. The NCC also seeks a $1.6 million increase for improvements to CottonGen, a central genetic database that pairs with the National Cotton Germplasm Collection and improves efficiency of plant breeders and geneticists. Additional funding for personnel focused on the translation of genomic information has also been requested.

An additional $2 million has been requested for the three cotton ginning research units (Stoneville, MS, Lubbock, TX, and Mesilla Park, NM) to help address ongoing research needs for quality improvements, efficiencies at the gin, and the use of gin by-products to improve carbon capture and ultimately improve cotton’s overall sustainability.

Gary Adams is president/CEO of the National Cotton Council of America.

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