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Sustainability Conference Debuts

• By Carroll Smith,
Editor •

2021 beltwide conferenceThe National Cotton Council will conduct the 2021 Beltwide Cotton Conferences virtually Jan. 5-7, 2021, (Tuesday-Thursday) due to continued concerns regarding COVID-19’s spread.

Beltwide, coordinated by the NCC, annually brings together university and U.S. Department of Agriculture researchers, regulatory agencies, Extension personnel/agents, consultants and industry sales/support personnel.

The goal is to exchange information about new products and production/processing systems that can be tailored to individual farming operations for maximum efficiency.

Program Topics

The 2021 Beltwide begins at 8 a.m. Central Time, Jan. 5, 2021, with the half-day Cotton Consultants Conference that is open to all attendees. Among topics planned for that session are a National Weather Service discussion of prediction models/long-range forecasting. In addition, university cotton physiologists will describe weather models’ influence on cotton physiology decisions, including growth regulator use and leaf shed practices.

Environmental Protection Agency officials will review the availability status of dicamba and other plant protection chemistries.

In addition, a panel will discuss Bt resistance management and EPA’s new proposed requirements.

Participants also will get an update on cotton leafroll dwarf virus and products from various agribusiness companies.

New Technical Conference

The 11 Beltwide cotton technical conferences, which now include the Cotton Sustainability Conference, will provide updates on research and current/emerging technology. Those sessions will meet concurrently beginning on the afternoon of Jan. 5 and conclude by 5 p.m., Jan. 7.

Lori Duncan, Sustainability Conference chair, says, “In the past couple of years, the National Cotton Council has hosted a half-day sustainability session, which was well attended and well received. With the cotton industry’s focus on sustainability, along with the launch of the U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol, the time seemed right to expand the session into a full conference.”

Duncan says the new conference is designed to explore the cotton supply chain to communicate to the audience what is being done with cotton from the farm level to having cotton products on the shelves.

Many definitions of sustainability have been globally circulated. What does it mean in the context of the Sustainability Conference?

“Sustainability in the cotton world is not a destination, but a continuous journey,” Duncan says. “It means using our natural resources and inputs more efficiently. It also involves reducing or mitigating environmental effects, all while maintaining or improving yields, quality and profitability.”

Soil health is the focus for the first day of the conference with perspectives offered from the Soil Health Institute, academia, government, Cotton Incorporated and a grower panel discussion. Most of day two will focus on the U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol with panel discussions and viewpoints from throughout the supply chain. Brands and retailers, academia and cotton growers from around the Belt will convey where they currently in their sustainability journeys.

Also on the agenda are a tutorial on how to enroll in the U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol, an explanation of how it has partnered with Field to Market and an update on the protocol verification process.

“The third day of the conference features presentations on international standard development, apparel industry contributions and plastic leakage,” Duncan says. “The remainder of day three will be dedicated to research exploring the way cotton production influences sustainability metrics, including greenhouse gas emissions.”

Registration Required

Those planning to participate in the 2021 live-stream Beltwide Cotton Conferences must register at www.cotton.org/beltwide/, which will be updated as program information becomes available.

Registration will continue after the virtual 2021 conference concludes to permit registered participants access to the event’s on-demand content.

Registration costs for the 2021 BWCC have been reduced due to the virtual format:
• $180 for NCC/Cotton Foundation members, university and USDA researchers, Extension personnel, associations and consultants.

• $500 for non-U.S. research, Extension, associations and consultants.

• $350 for non-NCC/Foundation members.

• $75 for students.

To view the preliminary program, visit https://bit.ly/33h64Mp.

The NCC contributed information for this article.