The National Cotton Council (NCC) is confident persistence will pay off when industry members pursue a zero tolerance goal regarding contamination of seed cotton and lint.
Why is contamination such a threat?
The NCC believes contamination prevention is so important that we are re-establishing our Quality Task Force to monitor ongoing quality issues and stay abreast of all reported contamination incidents. We believe this step will help maintain U.S. cotton’s hard-earned reputation for supplying quality fiber in the global marketplace – which is more critical than ever because competition among growths and man-made fibers is fierce.
Because contaminants, particularly plastics, continue to be discovered by textile mills, I recently sent a memo to producer leaders, ginners, warehousers, cotton interest organizations and cotton Extension specialists. This was to remind everyone that the battle with plastic and other sources of contamination is waged in each field, gin and warehouse and it takes a concerted effort by all who harvest, process and store our crop to win the contamination war. Included with the memo was a flyer that listed contamination prevention steps for in-season, pre-harvest and post-harvest. Ginners are distributing this educational piece to their producer customers as well as making their gin employees aware of their contamination prevention responsibilities. Additional flyers can be obtained by contacting a NCC Member Services representative or the NCC’s Dale Thompson at (901) 274-9030 or jcibpc@ cotton.org.
What plastics are the main culprits?
It is very important that plastic films, such as those used as ground cover in vegetable production and in shopping bags, are kept out of seed cotton. USDA research shows that plastic films can make their way through the ginning process and into baled lint. Module covers and wraps are another potential culprit. Producers are reminded that round modules, for example, should never be dropped on or dragged across cotton stalks or other jagged materials. Likewise, ginners must be diligent supervisors of their employees in order to teach recommended methods to handle these modules and to completely remove all wrap. To help with this undertaking, the National Cotton Ginners Association produced the “Volume VI – Round Module Safety – Unwrapping, Handling and Storage” video. That video, the flyer mentioned above and other contamination prevention resources are available on the NCC website’s Quality Preservation page at www.cotton. org/tech/quality/index.cfm.
Is there an issue involving bale packaging?
Chinese officials recently informed NCC staff that they intend to apply a revised bale packaging standard to all cotton fiber imports. However, no timetable was discussed. The standard’s intent is to reduce contamination in cotton fiber — not to exclude specific bagging materials. This standard, though, concerns us because it contains specifications for materials made from cotton cloth and of plastic film only, without mention of woven plastic bagging such as the fully-coated, woven polypropylene bagging used on about 60 percent of U.S. bales each year. A Chinese government delegation requested time with U.S. cotton representatives later this month (October) in Washington, DC, to discuss this revised standard, and we plan to convey our concerns.
Gary Adams is president/chief executive officer of the National Cotton Council of America. He and other NCC leaders contribute columns on this Cotton Farming magazine page.