Cotton's Week: July 10, 2009

Cotton's Week: July 10, 2009

China Concerns Conveyed to USTR

In a letter to USTR Deputy Ambassador Demetrios Marantis, the NCC conveyed the US cotton industry’s concerns with China’s trade restrictions and policies for cotton fiber.

The letter, sent in advance of a USTR delegation visit to China, stressed that “inadequate market access, burdensome registration and performance requirements, numerous price support programs, tax rebates, and the accumulation and ‘management’ of significant cotton stocks are greatly distorting world trade in cotton and harming US cotton producers and other cotton producing countries, including sub-Saharan Africa and other less developed cotton producing countries.”

The letter detailed concerns with China’s variable levy system, unpredictable license announcements and quota allocations to the "processing industry" that require the export of an equivalent quantity of cotton apparel. China’s protection of their domestic market amounts to a multi-billion dollar annual subsidy to its cotton sector and significantly distorts world trade in cotton and cotton products.  The NCC also asked USTR to raise with Chinese officials the problems posed by the new registration requirements enacted in March.

FY10 Ag Appropriations Moves Forward

FY10 agriculture appropriations moved forward in both the House and Senate. The House approved the FY10 agriculture appropriations bill 266-160. Action on the measure was slowed by Republicans who complained about the legislative process which limited the number of amendments that could be offered.

The Rules Committee, which governs floor procedures for all legislation, issued a rule that made in order just 13 amendments out of 90 that were filed.

One of the amendments not made in order was proposed by Rep. Lucas (R-OK), the Agriculture Committee’s ranking member. The amendment would have prohibited USDA and the IRS from exchanging data to determine eligibility for programs.

To protest the amendment limits, Republican members used numerous procedural motions to slow work on the bill and provided members an opportunity to express objections to the procedures used to limit amendments on the agriculture and other appropriations measures.

During the bill’s consideration, members adopted five amendments, including the Managers amendment which added funding for research on Colony Collapse Disorder; an increase in funding for the Economic Research Service to evaluate trade agreements; an increase in Rural Utility Service water loans; an increase in funding for promotion of energy efficiency and an increase for conservation programs. All increases were offset by reductions in other programs.

The House rejected two amendments to make across-the-board cuts and three amendments to eliminate specific earmarks. In spite of objections to the contrary, the bill includes a provision authored by Chairman DeLauro (D-CT) banning imports of poultry from China. The bill includes $23.39 million for the USDA’s Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) Cotton Pests and authority for the Farm Service Agency (FSA) to make up to $100 million in loans to continue the boll weevil and pink bollworm eradication programs. Overall, the legislation provides $20.4 billion discretionary spending authority for USDA; $2.35 billion for FSA; and, $160.6 million for the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. More than 80% of the funding is for mandatory spending, with half of that total for the food stamp program.

Meanwhile, the Senate Appropriations Committee unanimously approved the FY10 Agriculture, Food & Drug Administration (FDA) and Rural Development appropriations (S. 1406), clearing the measure for full Senate consideration. The Senate version provides $23.7 billion in discretionary budget authority for USDA and $2.35 billion for FDA. The bill provides $23.39 million for USDA’s APHIS Cotton Pests account and authorizes USDA’s FSA to lend up to $100 million to continue the boll weevil and pink bollworm eradication programs.

Unlike the House bill, the Senate will include funding for the National Animal ID program and provide authority for USDA to allow poultry imports from China provided that USDA conducts audits of Chinese inspection systems and on-site inspections of slaughter and processing facilities.

C-4 Officials’ US Visit Scheduled

In response to a Washington Trade Daily article reporting that trade ministers from Benin, Burkina Faso, Mali and Chad, also known as the C-4 countries, will visit the United States in late July, the NCC sent a letter to US government officials expressing disappointment that the Ministers continue to use outdated arguments in seeking a solution that simply will not address their farmers’ needs.

To more fully apprise US officials of the current cotton market situation, the NCC distributed a background paper which demonstrates that US cotton farmers have responded to market factors that include weak demand and chronically low prices by significantly reducing cotton acreage. The NCC background paper further highlighted the need to strengthen world demand and achieve improved and more predictable access to markets, including China.

The NCC’s letter also points to recent actions by India, Brazil and China to build stocks and create new programs that have significant adverse impacts on both US and African cotton farmers. These, along with continued internal inefficiencies in the C-4 countries, are the matters that deserve the Ministers' attention.

In conjunction with the planned visit by the C-4 ministers, the NCC has accepted an invitation to participate in a Washington, DC, symposium being organized by the IDEAS Centre, a Geneva-based nonprofit organization.

Geithner Testifies On OTC Markets

In testimony before a joint hearing of the House agriculture and financial committees, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner stressed the need for more supervision and regulation of over-the-counter (OTC) derivatives markets. Geithner said the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) should have authority to impose record-keeping and reporting requirements on all OTC derivatives.

In other developments, CFTC Chairman Gary Gensler announced a series of hearings during July and August that will focus on whether federal speculative limits should be set by the CFTC for all commodities of finite supply, in particular energy commodities, such as crude oil, heating oil, natural gas, gasoline and other energy products. The initiative will include a review of the appropriateness of exemptions from these limits for various types of market participants.

In addition, the CFTC announced changes to the weekly Commitments of Traders report that are designed to increase transparency. Also, the CFTC will continue to collect and report data from swaps dealers and index investors.

More USDA Appointments Made

Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that Jonathan Coppess has been named to succeed Doug Caruso who resigned as FSA Administrator.

Coppess was serving as assistant administrator and prior to joining USDA, he worked for Sen. Nelson (D-NE) as a legislative assistant covering agriculture, energy and environmental policy.

Vilsack named Bill Murphy as Risk Management Agency (RMA) administrator. Murphy served as acting administrator during the transition. He has  spent more than three decades in crop insurance, including serving as RMA deputy administrator.

Ann Mills, recently a senior executive at American Rivers, a river conservation organization, has been named deputy under secretary for Natural Resources and Development. 

John Brewer has been named Foreign Agriculture Service associate administrator. Brewer comes to USDA from Booz Allen Hamilton.

Senate Begins Work on Climate Change Bill

The Senate held the first in a series of hearings on climate legislation following the narrow House passage of the Waxman/Markey bill (H.R. 2454), the American Clean Energy and Security Act). Advancing the bill will require 60 votes for cloture.

Environment and Public Works Committee Chair Boxer (D-CA) convened the hearing which included top Administration officials – Energy Secretary Steven Chu, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar. According to Sen. Boxer, her legislation will be based on the Waxman/Markey bill but likely will include tougher short-term targets for capping emissions.

In his testimony, Secretary Vilsack admitted that there will be both costs and benefits for US farmers but “at the end of the day farmers will benefit from this because of the payments farmers could receive for practices that can reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

Sen. Bond (R-MO) asked Vilsack for any information to show that farmers will not be heavily affected by a climate bill. Vilsack said that USDA still is working on an analysis of the economic impact.

When asked by Ranking Member Inhofe (R-OK), EPA Administrator Jackson confirmed an EPA analysis showing that unilateral US action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions would have no effect on climate.  “I believe the central parts of the [EPA] chart are that U.S. action alone will not impact world CO2 levels," she said. 

The Senate Finance Committee held a hearing on climate change legislation impacts on international trade while the Foreign Relations Committee considered industrial competitiveness. Recent statements by Sen. Boxer indicate that her committee will not convene additional hearings until September. Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Harkin (D-IA) has a hearing scheduled for July 22 on the role of agriculture and forestry in global warming.

Sen. Harkin said he plans to incorporate into the Senate bill all of the agricultural provisions that House Ag Committee Chairman Peterson (D-MN) put into the House-passed bill and add even more benefits for agriculture.

In the international arena, negotiators failed to reach agreement on halving greenhouse gas emissions by ’50 in preparation for the Group of Eight (G8) industrialized nations meeting in Italy. Representatives from China and India refused to accept any concrete commitments, insisting that the developed economies should promise to cut their own emissions sharply by ’20 before asking developing nations to commit to a long term target. Instead, the G8 agreed upon a draft statement that global temperatures should not be permitted to rise more than 2C (3.6F).

The early failure to agree on emission reductions is a blow to efforts to secure a new United Nations pact on climate change in December. President Obama wants an international agreement to succeed the ’97 Kyoto Protocol which expires in ’12.

Arizonan Confirmed to Oversee Pesticides

The Senate voted unanimously to confirm Stephen Owens as the next assistant administrator of EPA's Office of Prevention, Pesticides, and Toxic Substances (OPPTS). OPPTS is the EPA division overseeing regulations of pesticides, including genetically modified crops with pesticidal traits.

Most recently, Owens served as the head of the Arizona Dept. of Environmental Quality (ADEQ).

US Exports Increased

In its July report, USDA gauged US ’08-09 cotton exports at 13.30 million bales, up 600,000 bales from the June estimate. Mill use was unchanged at 3.55 million bales, giving an estimated total offtake of 16.85 million bales and ending stocks of 6.00 million bales. The estimated ending stocks-to-use ratio is 35.6%. US production remains unchanged at 12.82 million bales.

For ’09-10, USDA projects a US crop of 13.25 million bales, unchanged from the June report. Mill use is unchanged at 3.50 million bales while exports were lowered 600,000 bales to 10.20 million bales. The estimated total offtake stands at 13.70 million bales resulting in ending stocks of 5.60 million bales. The projected ending stocks-to-use ratio is 40.9%.

USDA’s report lowered world production for the ’08-09 marketing year by 160,000 bales to 106.93 million bales. World mill use was lowered 160,000 bales to 110.34 million bales. Consequently, world ending stocks are estimated to be 61.95 million bales, for a stocks-to-use ratio of 56.1%.

For ’09-10, USDA sees world production at 105.95 million bales, down 310,000 bales from last month’s estimate. Mill use is estimated at 112.62 million bales, down 800,000 bales from last month. World ending stocks are estimated to be 57.81 million bales, for a stocks-to-use ratio of 51.3%.

Sales Light, Shipments Stay Strong

Net export sales for the week ending July 2 were 52,200 bales (480-lb). This brings total ’08-09 sales to approximately 14.1 million bales. Total sales at the same point in the ’07-08 marketing year were approximately 15.4 million bales. Total new crop (’09-10) sales are 1.0 million bales.

Shipments for the week were 347,200, bringing total exports to date to 12.1 million bales, compared with the 12.4 million bales at the comparable point in the ‘07-08 marketing year.

With less than one month remaining in the marketing year, weekly shipments must average roughly 293,000 bales to reach the USDA projection of 13.3 million bales.

Prices Effective July 10-16, '09

Adjusted World Price, SLM 11/16

46.73 cents


Fine Count Adjustment ('08 Crop)

 0.43 cents

Fine Count Adjustment ('09 Crop)

  0.23 cents

Coarse Count Adjustment

  0.00 cents

Marketing Loan Gain Value

 5.27 cents

Import Quotas Open


Special Import Quota (480-lb bales)


ELS Payment Rate

  6.23 cents

*No Adjustment Made Under Step I


Five-Day Average

Current 5 Lowest 3135 CFR Far East

63.50 cents

Forward 5 Lowest 3135 CFR Far East

65.30 cents

Coarse Count CFR Far East

63.58 cents

Current US CFR Far East

63.85 cents

Forward US CFR Far East

68.20 cents


'08-09 Weighted Marketing-Year Average Farm Price  

Year-to-date (Aug.-May)

48.94 cents


** Aug.-July average price used in determination of counter-cyclical payment 

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