Cotton's Week: July 24, 2009

Cotton's Week: July 24, 2009

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C4 Dilemma Due To Internal Factors

NCC President/CEO Mark Lange, a panelist at a conference sponsored by the IDEAS Centre of Geneva, Switzerland, stressed that US and W. African cotton growers had more in common than most realize.

“We both need market access and strong consumer demand to support world cotton prices in the face of Chinese import licensing, which restricts market access, and explosive growth in the production of polyester,” Lange told those attending the event at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, DC. “U.S. programs create little trade distortion, as evidenced by reductions in acreage in response to low prices, while a quick examination of those countries that expanded cotton production in the face of rising grain and oilseed prices are of great concern to U.S. cotton growers and should be a great concern to West African cotton growers.”

Lange also reminded attendees that the only cotton growers in the world to mount a sustained and well organized market development program were the US cotton growers and their Cotton Incorporated programs.

The IDEAS Centre is funded by the European Union and Swiss government to assist the C4 (Burkina Faso, Benin, Chad and Mali) countries in generating more visibility and publicity for their push to essentially eliminate US cotton subsidies through the WTO Doha round. The IDEAS Centre provided financial support to bring the C4 ministers and New Zealand Ambassador Crawford Falconer, the former WTO agriculture negotiations chairman, to Washington.

Other conference speakers included Terry Townsend from the International Cotton Advisory Committee; Dr. John Baffes of the World Bank; Gary Hufbauer of the Peterson Institute; Carol Goodloe from USDA; and the panel on which Lange was a member that also consisted of the Trade Minister from Burkina Faso; a representative of W. African cotton farmers from Chad; Elena Bryant of the US Trade Representative’s office (USTR); and Ambassador Falconer.

With the exception of the C4 speakers and the representative from the Peterson Institute, all other reports at the meeting cited factors other than US cotton subsidies as principal sources of concern for C4 cotton growers.

Both Townsend and Goodloe pointed to the expansion in Chinese and Indian production at the same time that US production was declining. The World Bank representative was candid in his assessment that inefficiencies in production, declining yields, parastatal ownership of gins, artificially pegged exchange rates, ineffective marketing techniques and other infrastructure challenges were responsible for the poor state of the W. African industry and the fact that W. African cotton farmers consistently receive prices below the world price.

USTR’s Bryant gave an extensive report on the W. African Cotton Improvement Project and capacity building activities of USAID in W. African countries. She noted that none of the C4 has requested funds from the Millennium Challenge Corporation for cotton-specific projects even though the countries continue to cite the importance of the cotton sector to their economies.

NCC distributed information to news media attending the event, and to Congressional members from cotton growing districts and states as well as to USDA and USTR.

USDA Sees Minimal Climate Bill Effects

At a Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee hearing, Chairman Harkin (D-IA) introduced a new USDA study that claims that the House-passed climate change legislation (H.R. 2454, the Waxman/Markey bill) would minimally affect farmers’ costs.

The study found that until ’25, the effects on farmers and livestock producers would be “largely negligible.” It said the bill offers financial incentives to trade-exposed industries, including fertilizer companies, which would shield them from the effects of higher natural gas prices under the bill. In later years, fertilizer prices would probably increase, the study said. However, farmers as a group would actually receive a net benefit because the bill allows them to be paid for special projects, or offsets, to sequester carbon emissions on farmland.

The study concluded that the Waxman/Markey bill would result in less than a 1% decrease in farm income in the short term. In the long term, there would be a 7% decrease but this reduction would be neutralized by the benefits. The study also said it “overestimates” the costs because it assumes there would be no changes in technology or increased demand for biofuels.

American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman testified that the bill would reduce farm income by nearly $5 billion by ’20 because of higher energy costs.

The NCC’s preliminary analysis of direct energy costs related to production, ginning, marketing and yarn spinning indicates that every 10% increase in input prices will increase costs by at least $175 million. In consideration of the broad impacts of such legislation, the NCC has concluded that higher energy and other production input costs in every US cotton industry sector will outweigh any benefits resulting from offsets.

The USDA report could influence Senators from rural states as they debate a Senate version of Waxman/Markey. However, Senators have not introduced a companion to the House-passed bill.  Sen. Boxer (D-CA), chair of the Environment and Public Works Committee, has stated that she plans to mark up legislation in September.

Disaster Program Timelines Issued

The USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) announced estimated application and payment processing timelines for ’08 farm law disaster programs.

The initial applications can be made manually at FSA county offices until automated application and payment software is finalized. Producers can begin making manual applications on an estimated date of Nov. 2, ’09 for the Supplemental Revenue Assistance Program (SURE) for ’08 crop losses.

FSA estimates that payment processing of SURE applications will begin on Dec. 14, ’09. A SURE fact sheet and payment calculator is available at

Other disaster program timelines are available in the Issues area of the NCC’s website,

Automated software is expected to be completed by January ’10 except for the SURE program for which all applications and payments must be completed manually at this writing.

Farmers: Leave Clean Water Act Alone

At a hearing of the House Small Business Committee, small farm and business owners warned that a proposal to amend the Clean Water Act (CWA) would expand the scope of the law, spur lawsuits, and burden farmers, contractors, and other businesses.

House Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman Oberstar (D-MN) is drafting companion legislation to S. 787, the Clean Water Restoration Act, and is expected to introduce that bill in the House later this session. This bill would amend the CWA by replacing the term "navigable waters" with "waters of the United States."  S. 787 was reported favorably out of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee last month along party lines. 

Two recent Supreme Court decisions have found that the term “navigable waters” limits the scope of federal jurisdiction. The bill’s proponents say it would restore the original intent of the ’72 law to regulate all of the country's waters, including non-navigable wetlands.

Witnesses, representing farmers, utility contractors and cattlemen testified that the bill signifies a huge expansion of federal power reaching every ditch, pond and puddle in the country, regardless of whether they are connected to larger bodies of water.  They stressed that the bill would translate into canceled construction projects, fallowed farmland and a wealth of third-party lawsuits.

"The compliance costs associated with an expanded CWA regulatory program can be summarized in the following manner," said Charlie Kruse on behalf of the American Farm Bureau Federation. "Broader scope will result in an increase in permit requests; litigation will lead to delays, higher compliance cost, lost productivity, and financial burdens for small businesses."

Committee ranking member Graves (R-MO) characterized attempts to remove "navigable" from the Clean Water Act as "an unprecedented expansion of federal government intrusion into the lives of property and business owners across the country." Committee Chairwoman Velázquez (D-NY) avoided taking a direct stand on removing the word "navigable" from the law. She conceded, however, that the current number of unmet requests for permits ranges between 15,000 and 20,000 and a business may wait from two to three years to secure one.

Mill Cotton Use Slips

According to the Commerce Dept., June (5-week month) total cotton consumption in domestic mills was 154.2 million pounds for a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 3.22 million bales (480-lb). Last year’s June annualized rate was 4.39 million bales.

The May (4-week month) estimate of domestic mill use of cotton was lowered by 529,000 pounds to 125.2 million. The revised seasonally adjusted annualized rate of consumption for May is 3.33 million bales. This is lower than last year’s May annualized rate of 4.41 million bales.

Based on Commerce estimates from Aug. 3, ’08 through July 4, ’09, projected total pounds consumed during crop year ’08-09 would be 1.72 billion pounds or 3.58 million bales. USDA’s latest estimate of ’08-09 crop year mill use is 3.55 million bales.

Preliminary July domestic mill use of cotton and revised June figures will be released by the Dept. of Commerce on Aug. 27.

Sales Weak, Shipments Steady

Net export sales for the week ending July 16 were 17,700 bales (480-lb). This brings total ’08-09 sales to approximately 14.3 million bales. Total sales at the same point in the ’07-08 marketing year were approximately 15.6 million bales.

Total new crop (‘09-10) sales are 1.2 million bales.

Shipments for the week were 274,000, bringing total exports to date to 12.6 million bales, compared with the 12.9 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 327,000 bales to reach the USDA projection of 13.3 million bales.

Texans to Host Mid-South Producers

Mid-South cotton producers will visit operations in W. Texas on July 27-31, in the second ’09 Producer Information Exchange (PIE) tour.

They will begin on the 27th in Lubbock with a visit to the Bayer CropScience, where they will hear presentations from representatives of Bayer and Plains Cotton Growers. Texas A&M University researchers also will report on Texas cotton production and the Texas Cotton Improvement Program. The group also will tour PYCO Industries, the Farmers Cooperative Compress and Mimms Farm. The next day, they will visit Jones Farm, the Texas Feed Lot, Back to Earth Resources and Plains Cotton Cooperative Assoc. Among activities on the 29th and 30th are visits to the Cliff Etheredge Wind Farm in Roscoe, the Farmers Cooperative Society of Stamford Gin and farms in the Stamford area. 

The Southwest tour participants include: Mississippians – Owen Bibb and John Bibb, Tunica; David Hargett, Greenwood; and James Robertson, III, Indianola; Louisianans -- Arte Good, Jr., Sicily Island; and Scott Guthrie, Newellton; Tennesseans – Jeff Hill, Gates; and Mark Korn, Dyersburg; and Arkansan – Pace Hindsley, Marvell.

Sponsored by Bayer CropScience through a grant to The Cotton Foundation, the PIE helps US cotton producer participants improve yield and fiber quality.

Prices Effective July 24-30, '09

Adjusted World Price, SLM 11/16

48.56 cents


Fine Count Adjustment ('08 Crop)

 0.40 cents

Fine Count Adjustment ('09 Crop)

  0.20 cents

Coarse Count Adjustment

  0.00 cents

Marketing Loan Gain Value

 3.44 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

65.33 cents

Forward 5 Lowest 3135 CFR Far East

65.63 cents

Coarse Count CFR Far East

66.45 cents

Current US CFR Far East

68.25 cents

Forward US CFR Far East

71.10 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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