Throughout 2013,the National Cotton Council (NCC) and other commodity organizations communicated strong support for enactment of a new, comprehensive farm bill. An extension of farm law was opposed, though, because long-term planning would have been hampered and it was very possible Brazil would have retaliated for failure to resolve the longstanding World Trade Organization (WTO) case.
The NCC consistently emphasized the importance of having regional and commodity balance in Title I programs. We urged farm bill conferees to remove draconian changes to the way program eligibility is determined and made known our opposition to the reinstatement of unworkably low limitations on total program benefits. We also conveyed to Congressional members the urgency of approving the cotton industry's proposal for a new, enhanced crop insurance program and extension of the marketing loan and the Economic Adjustment Assistance Program for domestic textile manufacturers.
Timely communication with our members regarding farm bill development was ongoing, just as in 2012. That included posting of documents in the Farm Bill area of the NCC's website, www.cotton.org. A new creation on that site was a Congressional Staffers area to apprise them of the NCC's positions on farm policy as well as on trade, appropriations and regulatory issues.
The NCC, in fact, was heavily involved in a number of pressing trade matters. Among those were international contract defaults, the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations and the Peruvian countervailing duty investigation, which resulted in a favorable outcome for U.S. cotton. The WTO Doha negotiations required our presence in Geneva to monitor the developments leading up to the December ministerial in Indonesia.
The NCC also was heavily involved on such important legislative concerns as fiscal year 2014 appropriations and immigration reform.
Another challenge was the need for intensive monitoring of a wide range of regulatory issues from clean water permits and pollinator protection to spill prevention and OSHA rulemaking. The NCC also focused on the federal approval of new biotech crops, joining with other agricultural groups in emphasizing the need for new traits to fight resistant weeds.
The NCC's issue-oriented committees and task forces were invaluable in addressing threats to the industry's health. For example, the Performance and Standards Task Force was re-appointed and a special working group was formed to continue the industry's efforts to improve cotton flow.
As the NCC's export promotion arm, Cotton Council International (CCI) elevated its programs and service to our fiber's worldwide customers, and expanded foreign demand for U.S. cotton. Those efforts were bolstered by CCI once again being the largest recipient of combined Foreign Market Development (FMD) and Market Access Program (MAP) allocations.
The NCC joined with CCI and Cotton Incorporated to advance U.S. cotton's sustainability message through close involvement in Field to Market and the launch of the Cotton LEADS™ initiative.
The Cotton Foundation's trustees approved funding 23 general research projects totaling $327,589. Among those projects receiving support are studies related to pest management, herbicide resistance, fiber quality, agronomic practices and education.
Two Foundation special projects reached milestones in 2013. The Producer Information Exchange celebrated 25 years and the Policy Education Program realized its 15-year anniversary. The first class of the new Emerging Leaders Program also was chosen.
Additional details of the NCC's 2013 activities in all of these arenas are described below under the major headings of Farm Policy, Trade, Communications, Technical, Cotton Council International and The Cotton Foundation.
President/Chief Executive Officer