The National Cotton Council identified multiple priorities it must address to continue effectively representing the U.S. cotton industry on legislative and regulatory issues.
What are some key priorities?
• A major concern is ensuring an effective safety net for cotton producers is contained in the next farm law. As this column was being submitted, the Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018 (the new farm law) was under consideration by the House.
Getting that legislation signed into law is an extremely important step for providing much-needed stability to the U.S. cotton industry. Fortunately, the Act that was being voted on at press time was void of damaging amendments that would have compromised crop insurance and imposed stricter payment limits and eligibility provisions. What it did contain (which I wrote about in last month’s column) was NCC-developed policy that designates seed cotton as a covered commodity eligible for the Agriculture Risk Coverage/Price Loss Coverage programs. That designation was placed in Title I of the 2014 farm law beginning with the 2018 crop year.
A key NCC priority is working for trade policies vital to the exports of U.S. cotton and textile products and protecting existing beneficial trade agreements. In the appropriations arena, the NCC is working to maintain funding for boll weevil/pink bollworm eradication while coordinating an implementation strategy that will enhance boll weevil eradication efforts in Mexico and coordinating the implementation of a plan for pink bollworm eradication transition to post-eradication status.
Another priority will be to maintain full support for the Market Access Program and Foreign Market Development program, as Cotton Council International continues to be the largest recipient of these marketing and promotion funds. In addition, the NCC will continue to seek adequate funding for all USDA Agricultural Research Service cotton research, including efforts at the three ginning laboratories.
What about regulatory concerns?
• Several priorities involve close coordination with EPA on regulatory matters. The NCC is working with the agency, states and stakeholders to maintain the cotton registration/label for in-season use of labeled dicamba herbicides beyond 2018 and 2,4-D herbicides beyond 2021. We participated in a successful lawsuit to prevent more stringent EPA regulation of treated seeds (including neonicotinoid seed treatments) as proposed by some environmental groups and beekeepers. However, we continue to work with EPA to encourage revisions to its pollinator risk assessment while opposing inequitable label restrictions on crop protection products relative to pollinator protection — with specific emphasis on maintaining neonicotinoid chemistries availability.
Although EPA granted Section 18 requests for emergency use exemptions for sulfoxaflor (Transform) in multiple states for 2018, the NCC will seek these exemptions each year for as long as cotton is omitted from the product’s Section 3 label. We will continue engaging EPA and Congress to prevent the loss of key organophosphate crop protection products such as chlorpyrifos, Bidrin, malathion and Def through the reregistration process and lawsuits. We also will engage EPA on a rewrite of the Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule and work with the Food and Drug Administration, Congress, and state and regional gin associations to eliminate the requirements for cotton gins to comply with the new animal feed safety regulations.
More information about NCC priorities and recent achievements is at www.cotton.org/issues/2018/achpri.cfm.
Gary Adams is president/CEO of the National Cotton Council of America. He and other NCC leaders contribute columns on this Cotton Farming magazine page.