MEMPHIS, Tenn. – The National Cotton Council is extremely disappointed in Agriculture Secretary Vilsack's comments today that USDA believes its legal interpretation of the farm bill does not provide the authority to make the cottonseed designation. We continue to believe, like a broad group of Members of Congress, that USDA clearly has this authority as described in the current farm bill. Our industry remains committed to pursuing a cottonseed designation and policy to help provide long-term stability to the industry.
However, we appreciate the Secretary's recognition of the industry's growing need for assistance given the current economic circumstances and his willingness to explore ways of providing meaningful and timely assistance to the industry.
With the lowest U.S. cotton acreage in more than 30 years, the smallest exports in 15 years and cotton prices at their lowest level since the 2009 recession, economic pressure is mounting in the industry. Meanwhile, cotton demand, 10 percent below the peak observed in 2006, is struggling due to increased competition from synthetic fibers, and foreign governments' support for international cotton production is increasing. To help address the current economic climate, we will continue working with Congress and USDA to find ways to help address the significant challenges facing the U.S. cotton industry.