|Schafer Confirmed as New Ag Secretary|
Ed Schafer, who served as North Dakota’s Republican governor from ’92-00, received unanimous Senate consent as the 29th Secretary of Agriculture. He succeeds former Nebraska Gov. Mike Johanns.
The Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee bypassed a vote on Schafer’s nomination due to overwhelming support, and Schafer was able to sit with President Bush’s Cabinet during the President’s State of the Union address.
President Bush said in a statement, “I appreciate that the Senate today unanimously confirmed Ed Schafer to be our next Secretary of Agriculture. As a two-term governor and business leader, Ed has distinguished himself as an executive with a proven record of results.”
During a Senate Agriculture, Nutrition & Forestry Committee confirmation hearing last week, Schafer said he looked forward to working with the Congress and the Administration on a new farm bill (see 1/25/08 Cotton’s Week).
Following his confirmation, he was quoted in the media as saying, “I arrive here today with my heart in agriculture and my foundation in business. (That’s) a combination I hope you’ll agree is a perfect fit for the rigors of administrating and managing the USDA . . . I pledge to work tirelessly to ensure that the USDA programs are administered efficiently and effectively and most important with fairness and equality. To start this journey, I ask you for your support for confirmation and I look forward to serving the people of the United States of America.” In another story, he conceded it would be hard to tout a farm bill policy position that is at odds with the administration he serves.
Secretary Schafer brings a record as an innovative two-term governor of North Dakota to USDA along with extensive private sector experience as both an entrepreneur and a business executive. He led efforts to upgrade North Dakota's communications infrastructure and make high-speed voice and data networks available to farmers, ranchers and rural businesses.
Schafer was elected chair of the Republican Governors Assoc. in ’00 and that same year he co-founded and co-chaired the Governors Biotechnology Partnership to increase public understanding and support for the benefits of agricultural biotechnology.Born and raised in Bismarck, ND, Schafer graduated from the U. of North Dakota in ’69 with a bachelor's degree in Business Administration and earned an MBA from the U. of Denver in ’70. He and his wife, Nancy, have four children.
|Sen. Lincoln to Address NCC Meeting|
Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) will address the NCC’s 70th Annual Meeting, set for Feb. 7-11, at The Peabody Hotel, site of the NCC’s organizational meeting in November ’38.
Sen. Lincoln, one of the top ranking Democrats on the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition & Forestry Committee, will address the meeting’s general session on Feb. 11. She also chairs that panel’s Production, Income Protection and Price Support Subcommittee. Among her other assignments are service on the Finance and Energy & Natural Resource committees and as Democratic Caucus Chair of Rural Outreach – where she helps frame the majority party's initiatives to revitalize rural America, including new investments in biofuels development, farm programs and education.
Joining Sen. Lincoln on the Feb. 11 session will be outgoing NCC Chairman John Pucheu, who will address the state of the US cotton industry, including its upcoming challenges. In addition, Gloria Borger, senior political analyst for CNN, will provide insight on the ’08 Presidential race.
Pucheu said delegate-approved resolutions at the Annual Meeting will enable the NCC to better channel its resources into the industry’s priorities.“Council action in 2007 included a primary focus on defending the U.S. cotton program and attaining sound trade policy,” Pucheu said. “Those remain as critical areas for the U.S. cotton industry in 2008 because new farm legislation is headed to a House-Senate conference and interest has heightened on bringing the World Trade Organization negotiations to a conclusion.”
|Schafer to Address NCC Joint Session|
Sec. Ed Schafer, who received unanimous Senate confirmation this week as the nation’s 29th Secretary of Agriculture (see earlier story), will address the Annual Meeting’s Joint Session of Delegates on Feb. 9. Schafer is an entrepreneur and business executive who served as North Dakota’s Republican governor from ’92-00.
The Saturday session also will include the NCC’s “Economic Outlook” presentation and Cotton Incorporated President/CEO Berrye Worsham’s update on that organization’s efforts to increase the demand for and profitability of cotton through research and promotion. That afternoon, the National Cotton Ginners Assoc. will conduct its annual meeting where attendees will hear a cotton classification outlook report from Darryl Earnest, deputy administrator USDA, AMS, Cotton and Tobacco Programs.
Among other important convention sessions are Feb. 8 meetings of the Cotton Council International board and the American Cotton Producers -- where the NCC’s annual “Planting Intentions Survey” will provide the year’s first insight into cotton growers’ ’08 plans.
More Annual Meeting information is at http://www.cotton.org/news/meetings/amreg/.
|Sales Surge, Shipments Steady|
Net export sales for the week ending Jan. 24 were 316,200 bales (480-lb). This brings total ’07-08 sales to approximately 9.3 million bales. Total sales at the same point in the ’06-07 marketing year were approximately 7.0 million bales. Total new crop (’08-09) sales are 244,000 bales.
Shipments for the week were 217,500 bales, bringing total exports to date to 6.0 million bales, compared with the 3.8 million bales at the comparable point in the ’06-07 marketing year.
|Proposed Sustainability Standard Addressed|
The NCC joined with 32 other organizations on a letter expressing concerns with the process being undertaken to draft a proposed Standard for Sustainable Agriculture under the auspices of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). The letter was sent to the Leonardo Academy, an organization accredited by ANSI to develop draft standards.
The letter specifically addresses concerns with organic agriculture practices being equated with best agricultural practices in the draft standard and the fact that “materially affected stakeholders” were not properly notified of the standard’s initial development as required by ANSI standards procedures, among numerous other concerns. The letter notes that while the standard’s stated purpose is to define sustainable agriculture, the draft standard as written pertains to “sustainable organic agriculture” only and does not meet the definition of “sustainable agriculture” as defined in law by the ’90 farm bill.
The letter concludes by encouraging the Leonardo Academy to narrow the scope of the draft standard to organic agriculture and work with other ongoing standard setting efforts. The full text of the letter can be found on the NCC’s web site at http://www.cotton.org/issues/members/2008/suslet.cfm.The NCC currently is engaged with Cotton Incorporated and other commodity, consumer and environmental organizations, coordinated by the Keystone Group, in an effort to define agricultural sustainability and set up achievable goals to evaluate progress. In addition, the NCC has participated in the development of “The First Forty Days,” which outlines expert recommendations of best management practices in cotton production.
|Doha Completion Top Administration Priority|
President Bush said he would make the “successful” conclusion of the World Trade Organization (WTO) Doha Round negotiations a top priority of his administration during his last year in office.
“Today, our economic growth increasingly depends on our ability to sell American goods and crops and services all over the world,” the President said. “We’re working for a successful Doha Round of trade talks, and we must complete a good agreement this year.”
Making trade a major theme of the ’08 State of the Union address, the president also called on Congress to approve free trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea and to reauthorize and reform the Trade Adjustment Assistance program.
Many products from Columbia, Panama and South Korea now enter the United States duty-free, he noted. “Yet many of our products face steep tariffs in their markets. These agreements will level the playing field, and they will give us better access to nearly 100 million customers.”
In its policy initiatives, the White House said passage of the free trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea would allow the United States to build on the progress of the Peru agreement.The president acknowledged that increased trade can mean that some Americans lose their jobs and he asked Congress to “reauthorize and reform trade adjustment assistance, so we can help these displaced workers learn new skills and find new jobs.”
|US Cotton Promoted at Colombiatex|
The COTTON USA Sourcing Program showcased US cotton at the 20th annual Colombiatex trade show in Medellín, Colombia. The largest textile mills from North andSouth America participated in the three-day show.
The COTTON USA Sourcing Program exhibit featured US cotton’s benefits and the products of eight attending US mills.
In an effort to expand market share in this important region, representatives of Buhler Quality Yarns Corp., Carolina Cotton Works, Clovertex LLC, Frontier Spinning Mills, Hamrick Mills Inc., Parkdale, Ramtex Inc. and Tuscarora Yarns Inc. were on hand to display samples of their products.
Also within the Sourcing Program’s display, Cotton Incorporated presented six new fabric developments. With one-on-one meetings prior to the show and with the presentation of these technologies at the stand, Cotton Incorporated expects Colombian companies to gain interest in adopting these technologies in order to increase cotton fabrics’ benefits to consumers.CCI reinforced US cotton’s value and US mill participation through several ads and other marketing activities connected with the event.
|CCI Expands India Outreach|
CCI continued efforts to increase the purchase of cotton textile and apparel products by Indian consumers with the generic cotton education program, “Cool with Cotton.” Meeting in Chandigarh, India, this was the first media workshop held outside of the major metropolitan cities of Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, Kolkata and Chennai.
The media event, which generated much attention from the local and national press, featured the latest creations of two eminent Indian fashion designers. They explained to the press why they prefer to use cotton in their styles, and showcased cotton outfits worn by two of that country’s popular models. The event also included a presentation on the history and successes of the “Cool with Cotton” campaign.
The generic cotton education program’s success has prompted CCI to hold similar promotions in as many as eight new cities this year.The program began in ’02 as the Cotton Gold Alliance, a joint initiative of CCI, Cotton Incorporated and the USDA, with the objective of increasing cotton consumption among Indian consumers.
|Prices Effective Feb. 1-7, '08|