Joint Message from the Chairman and the President

Joint Message from the Chairman and the President

Throughout 2009, the National Cotton Council (NCC) reiterated to Congress and the Obama Administration that the 2008 farm law did not need to be re-opened for budget savings, nor should any of its provisions be weakened. Specifically, the NCC strongly emphasized to USDA that the agency should implement the farm law fairly and according to Congressional intent.

We also congratulated lawmakers for various efforts – from preserving the 2008 farm law from unwarranted changes to defending U.S. cotton programs in the face of potentially damaging World Trade Organization (WTO) rulings and negotiations. NCC Vice Chairman Eddie Smith led a meeting with newly-appointed U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Ron Kirk to relay industry concerns with WTO Doha negotiations, the ongoing WTO Brazil cotton case and issues with market access in China. After the WTO Dispute Settlement Body officially recognized the August 2009 Arbitration Panel finding in the case brought by Brazil against the U.S. export credit guarantee program and portions of the U.S. cotton program, we issued a statement saying that the NCC would continue to work with USTR, USDA and Congress to ensure that the many changes previously made to the U.S. cotton program and the export credit guarantee program are fully understood and considered by the WTO.

Late in the year, we met with Congressional members and USDA staff to discuss a number of critical issues, among them trade policy, farm bill implementation, climate change legislation, food safety and the gravity of the weather-affected 2009 crop. On the latter, we specifically shared: 1) the deep concerns that growers, ginners, warehousers, cottonseed handlers and related agribusinesses had about the significant financial losses resulting from the rain-delayed planting and harvest of cotton and other crops in the Mid-South, particularly Arkansas, Mississippi and Louisiana; 2) reminded Members that losses resulting from the 2008 hurricanes and the severe drought in South Texas also resulted in severe financial losses which have not been addressed; 3) expressed the industry's grave concerns about the regulatory drought in California which has resulted in serious financial damage to farms and related businesses as well as created massive unemployment; and 4) thanked Members for their continued cotton industry support.

The NCC continued to work with the USDA’s Risk Management Agency (RMA) and USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service to develop better quality loss adjustments within the cotton program, and continued to work with the RMA and Congress on implementing crop insurance programs, including a cottonseed pilot program.

On the regulatory front, the NCC actively monitored and provided input on issues ranging from food safety to formaldehyde. Among many significant actions was the petition filed by the NCC and other agricultural groups to the U.S. Supreme Court seeking a reversal of the Sixth Circuit Court decision in NCC v. EPA regarding pesticide application permits under the Clean Water Act.

Our export promotions arm continued to work relentlessly worldwide to build underlying consumer demand for products containing cotton, and U.S. cotton in particular. Cotton Council International’s COTTON USA activities reached hundreds of millions of global consumers in 2009.

The NCC escalated its multi-pronged educational efforts to help its members in areas ranging from herbicide resistance management to handling seed cotton exposed to excessive rainfall.

The Cotton Foundation was behind the lion’s share of that outreach, including lending strong support to the NCC’s web server which is proving to be a very effective distribution method.

The NCC, CCI and Cotton Incorporated continued their partnership on one of the larger Foundation-supported endeavors, “Vision 21,” a project that is detailing demographic consumer studies in China and India, conducting a cotton life cycle analysis, and spearheading key cotton flow research. Anticipated completion is late 2010.

Jay Hardwick
Chairman (2009)
Mark Lange
President/Chief Executive Officer