U.S. cotton has weathered several storms but also capitalized on many opportunities, and fortunately the industry is prepared to meet the challenges presented by future business climates.
Are you optimistic about the cotton industry’s long-term future?
The U.S. cotton industry has and will continue to benefit from an extraordinary self-investment. That investment includes the National Cotton Council of America, U.S. cotton’s central organization that keeps cotton strong in the highly competitive fiber and oilseed markets at home and abroad. This is possible because the NCC is guided by visionary and politically active leaders and a professional staff that manages complex legislative and regulatory issues and oversees highly effective research, education and foreign market promotion programs. The investment in the NCC, combined with those in its export promotions arm, Cotton Council International, and Cotton Incorporated along with support from major agribusiness allies through The Cotton Foundation, provide a very sound infrastructure for U.S. cotton’s continued good health. Another reason why I am optimistic is that I’ve witnessed unity among our industry members and the willingness to work toward common goals. I’ve also seen tireless efforts among many leaders who have stepped up to help the NCC address issues ranging from crop insurance implementation to cotton flow by chairing and serving on various NCC task forces and committees.
Where is the industry’s near-term focus?
Priorities include trade policy, environmental and regulatory issues, and, of course, active work on the new farm law’s implementation. Regarding trade, the NCC will continue to 1) monitor World Trade Organization activity and make known any concerns such as distorting practices initiated by China and India and 2) deal with current challenges such as the Turkish anti-dumping investigation. Export promotion will continue to be a top priority. With Cotton Council International’s recent revitalization and re-launch of its 25-year-old flagship brand – COTTON USA – U.S. cotton is being aggressively positioned in the current competitive world marketplace. Also requiring the NCC’s attention will be regulatory and environmental matters ranging from defining “waters of the United States” to modification of the existing worker protection standard. The boll weevil and pink bollworm eradication programs, though, are examples of a winwin for industry and the environment. Additional work is needed but thankfully those efforts are nearing the finish line due to outstanding industry vision, leadership and diligence. U.S. cotton’s future also will be enhanced by the vision that led to the Cotton LEADS™ sustainability initiative that’s raising awareness of the responsible growing practices among U.S. and Australian cotton producers.
What about key staff successions?
At the NCC’s annual meeting early this month, I will be succeeded by Gary Adams, the NCC’s vice president of Economics and Policy Analysis. Gary has a thorough understanding of industry issues and will effectively advocate NCC policy positions. Another significant staff change has Reece Langley, former vice president of government affairs for USA Rice Federation, succeeding John Maguire who headed up our Washington operations for three decades. Reece, who has been in place since October, grew up on an Alabama cotton farm and was actively involved in development of the last two farm bills.
Mark Lange is the president and chief executive officer for the National Cotton Council of America. He and other NCC leaders contribute columns on this Cotton Farming page.