Multiple issues threatened to undermine U.S. cotton's profitability in 2011 but National Cotton Council leadership responded.
The best example of that response was the crafting and industry adoption of a farm policy that was aimed at maintaining an adequate safety net for producers. That task was daunting because it had to not only meet producers' risk management needs but fit within Washington's new budget realties and be defensible within the World Trade Organization. The Stacked Income Protection Program (STAX) gained the respect of Congress and was included in an Agriculture Committee package that was prepared for delivery to the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction. Even though that panel failed to approve a deficit reduction plan by their November deadline, we believe the STAX proposal will be given favorable consideration during the 2012 farm bill reauthorization.
Aggressive communication with Congress and the Administration was necessary throughout 2011, especially to ensure no disproportionate reductions for agriculture emerged in the federal budget process. The NCC dealt with numerous other challenges – from seeking a repeal of the IRS Form 1099 reporting requirements to gaining clarification for crop insurance indemnity eligibility for flooded cropland as a result of the Mississippi River levee breaches.
Monitoring World Trade Organization Doha Round activity remained a priority. We emphasized to U.S. trade officials that cotton only can be addressed as part of a comprehensive agreement encompassing all of agriculture. We also stressed to Chinese trade officials the need for greater transparency and market access.
Environmental issues continued to be formidable. The NCC's efforts ranged from urging passage of the "Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act of 2011to pushing for an extension of the compliance deadline regarding EPA's Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure program.
Strides were made at improving industry efficiency. A noteworthy example was the re-appointment of the NCC's Performance and Standards Task Force. That panel focused on "The Vision of the U.S. Cotton Industry in the 21st Century's" cotton flow study recommendations aimed at rewarding exceptional performance and penalizing poor performance.
Cotton Council International (CCI) once again was the largest recipient of combined Foreign Market Development and Market Access Program allocations. Utilizing that support and drawing on its 55 years of experience, CCIcontinued to take advantage of cotton's global appeal to promote and strengthen demand for the fiber.
The Cotton Foundation continued to assist with timely research and education efforts in areas ranging from herbicide resistance to fiber quality. The Foundation was able to support 24 general projects with $388,725 for 2011-12.
The NCC expanded the use of its website, www.cotton.org, as an information dissemination portal. In addition to posting timely statements on important industry issues, a wide range of educational materials was made available. Among those were the NCC's latest weed resistance videos and guides to preparing/amending oil spill prevention plans.
The NCC also bolstered its staff this past year by filling the vacant general counsel position and naming a new CCI executive director to replace the retiring Allen Terhaar. Overall, this past year proved again that a dedicated and experienced NCC staff working with bold and insightful leadership can ensure our great industry is effectively represented in each difficult situation and on all promising opportunities.
President/Chief Executive Officer