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|Progress Slow in WTO Negotiations|
Ongoing trade talks at the World Trade Organization (WTO) in Geneva have shown little signs of movement since the ministerial began on July 21.
Trade ministers have met throughout the week in an effort to bridge gaps in both agriculture and NAMA (Non-Agricultural Market Access). WTO Director-General Pascal Lamy continues to organize negotiating sessions among groups of countries, but progress has been difficult.
One of the few concrete proposals to emerge was an announcement by US Trade Representative Schwab that the United States is willing to accept a ceiling on Overall Trade Distorting Support (OTDS) of $15 billion. The current negotiating text developed by agriculture negotiating Chairman Crawford Falconer included a range on OTDS for the United States of $13 billion to $16.5 billion. Ambassador Schwab also stressed that “these reductions are not offered in isolation and must be accompanied by significant market openings in agriculture and NAMA.”
With little progress reported at the time this article went to press, it appeared likely that talks will continue through the weekend and perhaps into the week of July 28. A meeting on the status of services talks originally scheduled for July 24 was rescheduled for July 26.
NCC Chairman Larry McClendon, NCC President Mark Lange and Bill Gillon, who serves as General Counsel for the NCC, are in Geneva to monitor the negotiations. Cotton-specific talks have not been in the forefront during the week as the agricultural negotiations are struggling to resolve the broader issues. However, it is believed that if progress is made on the overall agricultural negotiations, attention could quickly turn to cotton.
|San Antonio is Site of ’09 Beltwide|
The NCC-coordinated ’09 Beltwide Cotton Conferences (BWCC) is set for Jan. 5-8 at the Marriott Rivercenter/Riverwalk hotels in San Antonio, TX. The forum will be held under a theme of “Improving Our Farm, Future and World.” General information can be found by clicking on the ’09 BWCC icon on the NCC’s home page, www.cotton.org.
Bill Robertson, the NCC’s manager, Agronomy, Soils and Physiology, said among topics being considered for the Beltwide Cotton Production Conference are: 1) energy management, 2) insect/weed management and resistance, 3) a farm law update with an emphasis on the conservation program component, 4) what’s in the technology pipeline, including seed varieties, and 5) a cotton economic outlook.
“With the high cost of fuel, energy management has become a major factor in several production practices and is affecting overall profitability,” Robertson said. “Innovative energy conservation practices and alternative energy sources should be of interest.”
Robertson said efforts will be made to make all workshops more hands-on and geared toward producers. The Cotton Consultants Conference that was initiated at the ’08 BWCC in Nashville will be continued.
“The roundtable discussions were one of the highlights of the Consultants Conference,” Robertson said, “and we’ll be looking at adding more roundtable discussions in the Production Conference workshops to facilitate more questions being asked and more interaction among growers from different regions. We want to bring the hallway conversations into a roundtable format with experts facilitating those discussions. For example, a grower in Texas may want to talk about strip-till farming face-to-face with a grower in the Southeast, where that practice has been done for several years. We believe that participating in these smaller roundtable discussions with more targeted questions and answers will maximize attendees’ return on investment.”
Robertson said he has gleaned programming ideas from the Conferences’ Technical Conference chairmen and will continue program development after meetings with the Beltwide Cotton Conferences’ Steering Committee, the NCC’s American Cotton Producers and NCC staff.
Programming information, instructions for meeting registration/housing reservations and other information will be posted later at www.cotton.org/beltwide.
|Panel Approves Markets Legislation|
The House Agriculture Committee approved the Commodity Markets Transparency and Accountability Act, which is designed to provide “greater transparency and accountability to commodity markets.”
The legislation, which is similar to legislation currently being considered in the Senate, is expected to be debated by the House during the week of July 28. It increases Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) staffing; applies reporting and recordkeeping requirements to swaps and transactions not currently covered; requires large traders to report over-the-counter contracts; requires CFTC to establish position limits for designated contract markets, derivative transaction execution facilities, and electronic trading facilities with regard to significant price discovery contracts; and limits the hedge exemption from position limits “only to persons that are expected to transact in the physical commodity at a later time and that are acting in an economically appropriate manner to reduce risk to a commercial enterprise.”
The legislation also establishes rules for foreign boards of trade which provide direct access to US traders.
The legislation was approved by voice vote, but some Republicans expressed concern about the rush to get a bill completed before the August recess.
|President Declares Major Disaster for Texas|
The head of the US Dept. of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced that federal disaster aid has been made available for Texas to supplement state and local recovery efforts in the area struck by Hurricane Dolly beginning on July 22 and continuing.
FEMA Administrator David Paulison said federal funding is available to state and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis in the counties of Aransas, Bexar, Brooks, Calhoun, Cameron, Hidalgo, Jim Wells, Kenedy, Kleberg, Nueces, Refugio, San Patricio, Starr, Victoria, and Willacy for emergency protective measures, including direct Federal assistance.
|Furadan Tolerances Cancellation Proposed|
EPA announced it is taking action to revoke food tolerances for residues of carbofuran. The revocation action is part of a move designed to cancel carbofuran’s registration.
Under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA), EPA is responsible for setting limits, also known as tolerances, on the amount of pesticides that may remain in or on foods marketed in the United States. A pesticide can not be registered (labeled) without a tolerance.
EPA’s proposal, announced through a news release, will be published in the Federal Register on July 30 and will provide a 60-day comment period. The Agency specifically will request comment on whether any individual carbofuran tolerance, or group of tolerances, meet the FFDCA safety standard. It is possible that one or more individual carbofuran tolerances could be maintained if information is provided to demonstrate that the tolerance(s) would be safe.
Even though Furadan is used on a small percentage of the US food supply and the likelihood of exposure through food is low, EPA has identified risks that do not meet rigorous US food safety standards. In ’07, the agency published a document concluding carbofuran, known as Furadan, “presents an acute toxic risk – particularly for children from infancy to 5 years.” EPA has been working on cancellation of the product for a number of years, but is now switching to revoke food tolerances “to simplify the process of cancelling the chemical’s registration.”
FMC already has made changes to labels to address concerns related to drinking water and ecological risks.
NCC has worked with FMC and commodity groups to communicate carbofuran’s benefits. NCC also recently joined FMC and commodity representatives in a meeting at USDA to discuss carbofuran’s importance. Agriculture Secretary Schafer submitted to EPA detailed documentation developed by USDA specialists documenting carbofuran’s effectiveness and economic benefits.
NCC will continue to work closely with FMC, commodity groups and government agencies.
Revoking carbofuran tolerances is part of a broader series of actions to cancel all US uses of carbofuran due to human dietary, occupational and ecological risks. The cancellation process requires the development of several documents, including this proposed tolerance revocation. After moving to revoke carbofuran tolerances, EPA subsequently plans to publish a “Notice of Intent to Cancel” for all carbofuran registrations. For additional information, visit:
|Mill Cotton Use Slips|
According to the Commerce Dept., June (five-week month) total cotton consumption in domestic mills was 212.3 million pounds for a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 4.42 million bales (480-lb). Last year’s June annualized rate was 4.92 million bales.
The May (four-week month) estimate of domestic mill use of cotton was lowered by 4.6 million pounds to 165.6 million. The revised seasonally adjusted annualized rate of consumption for May is 4.43 million bales. This is lower than last year's May annualized rate of 4.90 million bales.
Based on Commerce estimates from Aug. 1, ’07, through July 5, ’08, projected total pounds consumed during crop year ’07-08 would be 2.24 billion pounds or 4.68 million bales. USDA’s latest estimate of ’07-08 crop year mill use is 4.60 million bales.
Preliminary July domestic mill use of cotton and revised June figures will be released by Commerce on Aug. 28.
|Sales Stay Weak, Shipments Steady|
Net export sales for the week ending July 17 were 56,800 bales (480-lb). This brings total ’07-08 sales to approximately 15.6 million bales. Total sales at the same point in the ’06-07 marketing year were roughly 14.6 million bales. Total new crop (’08-09) sales are 1.4 million bales.
Shipments for the week were 266,400 bales, bringing total exports to date to 12.9 million bales, compared with the 12.2 million bales at the comparable point in the ’06-07 marketing year.
With less than one month remaining in the marketing year, weekly shipments must average roughly 500,000 bales to reach the USDA projection of 13.90 million bales.
|Cotton Fashion Featured in India|
Cotton Council International (CCI) presented the “Romance of Cotton” fashion show in New Delhi to celebrate the importance of cotton fabric in India. CCI has been involved in generic cotton promotion in India since ’03 to increase the demand for cotton at the consumer level.
The show, part of CCI’s “Cool With Cotton” promotional campaign and attended by Indian government officials and fashion and textile industry leaders, featured exclusive collections of cotton couture from leading designers Meera and Muzaffar Ali’s Kotwara Studio.
CCI also announced it received $20.9 million in FY08/09 Market Access Program (MAP) allocation funding. CCI’s MAP funding ceiling represents 10.4% of the overall MAP funding pool of $200 million, and reflects the strong performance of the COTTON USA program. These funds apply to the July 1, ’08- June 30, ’09 fiscal year.
Meanwhile, the CCI Board of Directors will meet at the Peabody Hotel in Memphis in conjunction with the NCC’s mid-year Board meeting, Aug. 20-22.
|Prices Effective July 25-31, '08|