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|NCC Chairman Affirms Commitment to Beltwide Cotton Conferences|
Chairman Robert Greene said the NCC continues to devote significant resources to technology development and transfer as evidenced by the NCC’s continued coordination of the Beltwide Cotton Conferences.
“Bringing resolution to technology-based priorities has in many cases been facilitated by these conferences,” said Greene, who gave the opening address at the ’04 Cotton Production Conference in San Antonio. “The conferences and the papers presented are comprised of the many efforts underway in a wide array of scientific disciplines to lower costs and apply technology to a host of regulatory issues. The success of the Beltwide Cotton Conferences can in large part be measured by what you take home that positively impacts your operations.”
In a review of NCC activities, Greene said defense of the farm bill was a primary focus during ’03, beginning with the budget debate and continuing through the process of developing agricultural appropriations.
“NCC membership responded during the agricultural appropriations process,” Greene said. “Through (our) contacts, we emphasized that the farm bill must remain intact and any amendment that would alter farm bill provisions must be rejected. Those efforts paid off and the House bill contained no farm bill amendments.
“The industry also was energized in urging opposition to payment limitations or any other farm bill amendment in Senate agricultural appropriations, and these efforts also were successful.”
Greene noted that the NCC also helped secure a $3.1 billion disaster assistance program that included $50 million in cottonseed market assistance for the ’02 crop; joined other agricultural organizations in urging USDA to implement the Conservation Security Program as soon as possible; and worked with the Agricultural Coalition for Immigration Reform on legislation for streamlining the current immigration process for hiring agricultural workers.
NCC President and CEO Dr. Mark Lange said trade issues framed a major part of the NCC’s activities in ’03 and will continue as a focal point in the foreseeable future. “The NCC will evaluate trade agreements as to their capacity to serve the interests of the entire US cotton industry,” Lange said. “We work to ensure that both the Administration and Congress understand the issues affecting cotton and endeavor to influence the specific form of proposed agreements to reflect the US cotton industry’s concerns.”
With the Doha Round of World Trade Organization negotiations, the Central America Free Trade Agreement, a proposed Free Trade Area of the Americas and Brazil’s challenge of the US cotton program through the WTO, Lange said, “trade policy now stands virtually shoulder to shoulder with farm policy in determining the ultimate success of the US cotton industry.”
In an update of Washington activity, NCC Vice President John Maguire said that redistricting and retirements will generate changes in the House for the next Congress. He said the NCC needs members’ support to make sure the newly elected members are familiar with the cotton industry and its issues.
Maguire said the White House has announced intentions to propose spending reductions as part of the President’s budget proposal. “Farm programs likely will be included in the proposed budget cuts,” Maguire said. “Undoubtedly there will be proposals to save money by modifying programs or by the now all-too-familiar, annual proposal to reduce payment limits ….The NCC will continue to work with all agriculture and allied organizations to effectively defend commodity programs and other key provisions of the new farm law.”
In a review of farm program support mechanisms, Dr. Gary Adams, NCC Vice President for Economics and Policy Analysis, said the program plays a vital role in enhancing the health of the cotton production sector, particularly in times of depressed prices. “However,” Adams said, “for the program to be effective, it is necessary that producers understand how changing market conditions impact the support mechanisms that are in place. The current farm bill is vital to the structure and stability of the US cotton production sector.”
Adams said that while the new legislation continues many of the same principles of the previous farm bill, such as decoupled payments, planting flexibility and no acreage reduction programs, there are several new twists, including counter-cyclical payments, to which producers still are adjusting.
NCC Board member and cooperative executive David Stanford reviewed changes taking place in the US cotton industry and about positioning for the future. He expects the US will produce 16-18 million bales of cotton per year, “meaning that 10-13 million bales each year will need to find a home in the international market. We have some challenges ahead on that front that need to be met.”
Stanford said China will consume every 3rd bale in the world in ’03-04 and is expected to import about 7 million bales. “They have an import license program which prevents market forces from working freely. As an industry, we need to continue to ask the Chinese government to allow their mills regular access to the world market and conversely let the world have regular access to Chinese textile mills ....”
The president of Globecot, Robert Antoshak, said the US cotton industry must improve staple length and quality and step up educational efforts with foreign spinners about US cotton in support of export sales. Dramatic shifts in global textile production have created a growing export market for US cotton, while domestic consumption continues to shrink. “Because of these shifts, close attention has to be paid to quality, price, cotton varieties and education. In the long run, supporting export sales will be a real challenge going forward, particularly in China,” he said.
Memphis merchant William B. Dunavant, Jr., said the biggest issue facing US cotton producers in the coming year is China. “It seems that everything changes every 6 months because of what is happening in China,” he said “Their cotton consumption will be around 30.3 million bales this year. They literally are controlling world cotton consumption as we look to our future.”
He said the US is rapidly becoming the major cotton exporter in the world, partly on the strength of a bad Chinese cotton harvest, and predicted cotton prices should remain high in ’04, “especially if China continues to play the game in the world markets.”
Dunavant noted that there will be a real battle over the next few years in maintaining the current farm law with no major changes, and it is crucial for all industry members – through the NCC – to fight hard for maintaining the farm program. “It appears that Brazil and West Africa are not going to back off of threats even though prices are at least 10 cents higher than a year ago.”
For 2004, Dunavant projected US cotton production increasing by 475,000 bales, US cotton consumption dropping from 6.2 million to 5.9 million bales and US exports exceeding 12 million bales.
Full reports and other coverage of Beltwide events are available from the NCC Web site, www.cotton.org.
|President Unveils Immigration Proposal|
NCC staff attended President Bush’s announcement of a new immigration proposal in the East Room of the White House on Jan. 7. The President’s new temporary worker program aims to match willing foreign workers with willing US employers when no Americans can be found to fill the jobs. The program would be open to new foreign workers, and to the undocumented individuals currently employed in the US.
Those currently working in the US or those seeking to work in the US could be granted a temporary worker permit if they currently have a job or a job waiting for them. The permit would be valid for 3 years (renewable) and allow the holder to travel between his home country and the US.
President Bush pointed out that his plan is not an amnesty, and those workers must go through the normal channels to receive a green card. He stated that his plan would help the US economy, bolster homeland security and protect the rights of legal immigrants.
|USDA Announces CSP Listening Sessions|
Ag Secretary Veneman announced Jan. 9 that USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service will hold listening sessions nationwide to gain feedback on a proposed rule to implement the Conservation Security Program (CSP). The CSP proposed rule was published in the Federal Register on Jan. 2 and NCC is preparing comments which are due by March 2.
USDA officials will give producers an overview of the proposed rule in a Jan. 30 presentation at the NCC’s Annual Meeting in New Orleans. CSP was authorized in the ’02 farm bill and is a new voluntary conservation program that supports ongoing conservation stewardship of agricultural working lands.
The listening sessions scheduled in Cotton Belt states are Jan. 13 in Tempe, AZ, and Roanoke, VA; Jan. 21 in Kerrville, TX; and Feb. 11 in Ft. Pierce, FL, and Greenwood, MS.
|Dr. Peggy Thaxton Receives Cotton Genetics Research Award|
Dr. Peggy M. Thaxton, a Texas A&M U. scientist and plant breeder, is the recipient of the ’03 Cotton Genetics Research Award. The announcement was made at the Cotton Improvement Conference. Thaxton, a research scientist in A&M’s Department of Soil and Crop Sciences in College Station, received $1,000 in recognition of her efforts.
US commercial cotton breeders have presented the Cotton Genetics Research Award for more than 40 years to a scientist for outstanding basic research in cotton genetics. The Joint Cotton Breeding Policy Committee, comprised of representatives from state experiment stations, USDA, private breeders and the NCC, establishes award criteria.
|J. Jill Group is ’04 US Cotton Champion Award Recipient|
The J. Jill Group, a Quincy, MA-based retailer of high-quality women’s apparel, accessories and footwear, received the US Cotton Champion Award for ’04 in recognition of its commitment to the use of US-grown cotton. The award was presented at the National Cotton Women's Committee’s ’04 Beltwide rally and fashion show. The company was nominated for the award in part because of the successful “Nature of Cotton” in-store promotion it conducted last past year with Cotton Incorporated.
“We were extremely pleased, not only with the sales results, but with the level of creative execution achieved in every aspect of our promotional activities,” said Gordon Cooke, the company’s chief executive officer. “Being chosen the recipient of the US Cotton Champion award is an acknowledgement of the campaign’s effectiveness.
|USDA-ARS Scientist Receives ’03 Cotton Physiology Award|
Dr. Bobbie L. McMichael, a plant physiologist at the USDA Agricultural Research Service’s Plant Stress and Water Conservation Laboratory in Lubbock, TX, is the recipient of the ’03 Outstanding Research Award in Cotton Physiology. He was recognized at the ’04 Beltwide Cotton Physiology Conference. The Agrivert Corp. sponsored the award, which is presented to an individual or team who has significantly improved the knowledge of the physiology of cotton growth and development.
|Export Sales for Week Ending Jan. 1|
Net export sales for the week ending Jan. 1 were 107,800 bales (480-lb.), resulting in total ’03-04 sales of almost 9.4 million bales. Total sales at the same point in the ’02-03 marketing year were approximately 7.4 million bales. Total new crop (’04-05) sales are 374,100 bales (480-lb.).
Shipments for the week were 167,500 bales, bringing total exports to date to 3.8 million bales, ahead of the 3.5 million bales at the comparable point in the ’02-03 marketing year.
|Prices Effective January 9-15, 2004|