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|NCC Conveys WTO Cotton Language Concerns|
NCC representatives were in Geneva, Switzerland for meetings with WTO officials and country delegations. NCC Chairman John Pucheu, a Tranquillity, CA, producer, and Vice Chairman Larry McClendon, a Marianna, AR, producer/ginner, were joined by NCC President Mark Lange and Dr. Gary Adams, the NCC’s Vice President of Economics and Policy Analysis.
With assistance from the U.S. Trade Representative’s office and the US Mission in Geneva, meetings were held with delegations from Greece, the European Union, China and Brazil. A meeting also was held with the combined representatives of the so-called Cotton-4 (C4) countries -- Benin, Burkina Faso, Chad and Mali.
The group also met with Ambassador Crawford Falconer, chairman of the Agricultural Negotiations, and WTO staff members including Cheidu Osakwe, director of Development; Marianne Fall, counselor to the Agriculture Division; and Keith Rockwell, director of Information and Media Relations. While in Geneva, the group was briefed several times by US Special Envoy for Agricultural Negotiations Dr. Joseph Glauber. Dr. Glauber was joined by staff from USTR and USDA.
Chairman Pucheu and Vice Chairman McClendon used every opportunity to explain that the proposed cuts to domestic support in the draft modalities text for the Doha general agricultural agreement would bring significant change to US cotton and other agricultural programs. They further reiterated that support for such a reduction in the United States could be attained only if equal ambition was realized in market access. The industry delegation conveyed their strong objections to the current language calling for specific and additional reductions in support to cotton.
The draft modalities text currently contains cotton specific language that would require a 90% reduction in US amber and blue box support for upland cotton. The USTR has stated that the current cotton specific language is unacceptable and will not be included in any successful agreement.
|Senators Urge Provisions’ Rejection|
Cotton Belt Senators led by Senator Chambliss (R-GA) have written Ambassador Schwab urging US negotiators to reject the cotton provisions in the draft WTO text released in late July by Agriculture Negotiating Chairman Crawford Falconer.
The language in Falconer’s draft would require deep cuts to be made in the domestic support program for cotton in addition to those that might be required by a general agreement on agriculture.
Senator Chambliss was joined by nine of his colleagues in advising Ambassador Schwab that if the Falconer proposal is not modified significantly, they would have to vote against the agreement if brought to the Senate for a vote.
NCC Chairman John Pucheu, who has been in Geneva consulting with WTO and US representatives about the negotiations’ status, said, “the industry deeply appreciates Senator Chambliss’ continued leadership on this issue and the invaluable support for his efforts expressed by his colleagues. Senator Chambliss and his colleagues have provided the US negotiators with an opportunity to make corrections in the negotiating text before there is irreparable harm.”The letter, at http://www.cotton.org/issues/members/2007/sendoha.cfm (members only), was signed by Sens. Lincoln (D-AR), Graham (R-SC), Isakson (R-GA), Pryor (D-AR), Cochran (R-MS), Landrieu (D-LA), Vitter (R-LA), Dole (R-NC) and Burr (R-NC).
|Secretary Mike Johanns Resigns|
Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns resigned on Sept. 20 and Deputy Secretary Chuck Conner was named to serve as Acting Secretary. Johanns’ resignation has been expected because Nebraska Senator Chuck Hagel (R) recently announced he would not run for re-election in ’08.
Johanns is the former Governor of Nebraska and is expected to announce that he is a candidate for Senate.
Conner, an Indiana native, was sworn in as deputy secretary in May ’05. Prior to joining USDA, he served as a special assistant to the President for agricultural trade and food assistance beginning in Nov. ’01 where he focused primarily on the ’02 farm bill development. He also served as a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee staff from ’85-97 and as agriculture assistant to Sen. Lugar (R-IN).
|NCC Hosts Transportation Session|
An Agriculture Transportation Coalition (AgTC)/Chamber of Commerce Focus Group met at the NCC to explore the importance of transportation to agribusinesses and supply chains. The Chamber, which sent its consultants to the session, is initiating a transportation infrastructure initiative. "Let's Rebuild America" aims to "define, quantify, and illustrate both the magnitude and urgency of the nation's infrastructure crisis as well as the benefits that the nation can realize if we substantially boost infrastructure investment."
Peter Friedmann, executive director of AgTC, of which NCC is a member, believes this focus group’s findings could be a “very influential study as Congress and the President … prepare for the next bill which sets federal spending priorities for transportation infrastructure, including highway, port access, truck and rail.”
Prior to the session, attendees received a questionnaire from the Chamber highlighting transportation issues facing the US agriculture and natural resources industries. The focus group also considered the impact of transportation infrastructure on business location decisions and future transportation policy. In addition to other agricultural interest participants, the NCC’s merchant, cooperative and cottonseed segments were represented in the session.
|Early ’08 BWCC Housing Open|
NCC and Cotton Foundation members planning to attend the ’08 Beltwide Cotton Conferences on Jan. 8-11 at the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center in Nashville, TN, can now make early housing reservations through Oct. 26. Go to the BWCC home page at www.cotton.org/beltwide/ and click on the "Housing" link on the left side of the page (members will be prompted to log in) in order to reserve a room at the Opryland. Housing for other attendees begins Nov. 1. Hotel confirmations will be sent via email after Dec. 17. A room deposit of $153 + tax is required to confirm a reservation.
Attendees also can complete “early” registration for the meetings by Dec. 7 by clicking on the registration link on the BWCC home page, which also features a PDF of the general schedule and other valuable information on the ’08 conferences.
The forum, held under a theme of “Orchestrate Your Opportunities,” will feature a two-day Cotton Production Conference that will focus on a wide range of timely topics -- from the ’07 farm bill to the value of emerging technology. Multiple workshops and special sessions focusing on such topics as sustainability, nematodes and recordkeeping, also will be held in addition to the cotton technical conferences and Foundation Exhibits.A link to the BWCC web site is now available on the NCC’s home page, www.cotton.org/.
|Cottonseed Oil Launches Campaign|
The National Cottonseed Products Assoc. (NCPA) has launched www.cottonseedOilTour.com, anew web site aimed at promoting cottonseed oil’s ability to help food processors and food service operators produce healthier foods free of artificial trans fats.
The site is part of NCPA’s “Comeback Tour” that takes visitors on a virtual cross-country journey of cottonseed oil success stories. Visitors will learn how their food industry peers, from chip manufacturers to ballpark concessionaires, have adopted cottonseed oil to remove trans, improve food quality and even boost performance.
Use of cottonseed oil for salad or cooking oils rose dramatically in ’06, nearly doubling from earlier years to 551 million pounds, notes NCPA Executive Vice President Ben Morgan, who attributes the growth to increased demand for oils that are stable without hydrogenation.
“We also know that numerous crushers and oil suppliers are reporting strong demand for cottonseed oil, and many are rolling out new zero-trans cooking oils made with cottonseed oil,” Morgan said.
“New York City’s decision to ban trans fats in restaurants last July has been a coup for our industry,” Morgan said, “because it was left with about a 250 million pound surplus after Frito Lay converted to sunflower oil in ’06. We are now filling that void thanks to the efforts of our membership and oil suppliers who are reintroducing food service operators and food processors to this versatile vegetable oil, valued for its high stability and neutral flavor.”
While total US cotton production is estimated at 17.8 million bales in ’07-08, compared to 21.6 million bales in ’06-07, Morgan is confident that cottonseed oil will be able to help meet the demand for trans-free oils, particularly in niche markets.
“Cottonseed has long been considered the ‘gold standard’ oil in frying in potato chips, for instance, and it’s becoming recognized as a solution for maintaining taste and mouthfeel in zero-trans bakery products,” he says, noting Dunkin’ Donuts’ recent switch to a cottonseed oil blend.
“While demand for cottonseed oil is up, there is still much to be done,” Morgan says. He refers to a recent NCPA-commissioned survey of food industry professionals, of which a majority had low awareness and a limited understanding of cottonseed oil and its benefits.“We plan to change that with the Comeback Tour,” he says, adding that direct mail, online advertising and public relations will round out the campaign. “We’re going to have some fun.”
|Sales, Shipments Rebound|
Net export sales for the week ending Sept. 13 were 204,900 bales. This brings total ’07-08 sales to slightly more than 5.2 million bales. Total sales at the same point in the ’06-07 marketing year were approximately 2.8 million bales. Total new crop (’08-09) sales are 155,300 bales.
Shipments for the week were 264,800 bales, bringing total exports to date to 2.0 million bales, compared with the 940,300 bales at the comparable point in the ’06-07 marketing year.
|Prices Effective Sept. 21-27, '07|