As a follow-up to the 2008 Beltwide Cotton Conferences, the NCC coordinated advance training workshops in the Mississippi Delta and in Texas to increase producers’ and consultants’ awareness of best management practices and the benefits of their use. Discussions were held on topics ranging from variety selection to weed resistance. The 2009 Beltwide Cotton Conferences, which featured information-packed workshops and sessions, including the second annual Cotton Consultants Conference, attracted more than 3,000 attendees.
The Beltwide Cotton Conferences' Cotton Consultants Conference was initiated in 2008 and continued for 2009.
The NCC joined the National Cotton Ginners Association (NCGA) and Texas organizations in communicating to the Bush Administration the importance of the USDA Cotton Ginning Lab in Lubbock and the need for it to remain funded.
At a USDA listening session, the NCC conveyed its concerns over the adverse impact that any incorrect interpretation of amendments in the research title of the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 would have on integrated pest management and cotton pest management research funding. The comments emphasized that U.S. cotton is particularly susceptible to a myriad of insect pests.
The NCC and Cotton Incorporated, together with other commodity, consumer and environmental organizations, made strides to define agricultural sustainability and set up achievable goals to evaluate progress. The NCC assisted Cotton Incorporated in a survey of cotton producers’ production practices. The information gleaned from the survey will be used to show the true extent of cotton’s limited environmental impact.
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 noted that the draft standard as written pertained to “sustainable organic agriculture” only and does not meet the definition of “sustainable agriculture” as defined in the 1990 farm law.
Later, the NCC appealed the selection procedure of the Leonardo Academy’s Standards Committee for the ANSI development process. This followed the rejection of committee service applications from NCC’s Dr. Bill Norman, industry consultants Drs. Andrew Jordan and Phil Wakelyn and Cotton Incorporated’s Norma Keyes.
Comments were filed in support of carbofuran to the Scientific Advisory Panel formed by EPA in compliance with the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act to review the agency’s interpretation of carbofuran risk assessment. EPA was urged to recognize the limited number of chemistries for aphid control and the need to maintain accessibility to an alternative material for resistance management of aphids. The NCC helped communicate carbofuran’s benefits, including participation in a meeting with USDA to discuss the chemical’s importance. Later, the NCC sought a 90-day extension of the public comment period for Furadan. After that was denied, the NCC registered several concerns it had with the agency’s process in cancelling the product’s uses.
Comments were submitted to EPA supporting the use of endosulfan insecticide for control of insect pests, particularly in Arizona, California, New Mexico and Texas. The comments urged the agency to realize the limited number of active ingredients that are available for managing piercing/sucking insect pests.
The NCC called on its members, interest organizations, Cotton Foundation members and others to support a proposed Transportation Department (DOT) rule addressing risk-based adjustments to transportation security plan requirements. The NCC also petitioned (DOT) to remove cotton from its list of hazardous materials.
During the Consumer Products Safety Commission’s (CPSC) reauthorization, the NCC joined with other textile and retail organizations on a letter to textile state Senators asking them to direct the CPSC to study the issue of whether new regulations were needed for formaldehyde. The NCC pointed out that 1980’s studies showed that no standards for fabric levels or product emissions were necessary.
NCC staff will conduct a confidential pesticide use survey to help prepare comments to EPA regarding re-registration of crop protection products that can control such pests as this saltmarsh caterpillar.
The NCC’s Boll Weevil Action Committee urged USDA to: 1) continue support and development of technology that would verify boll weevil identification by using DNA isolated from insect fragments; 2) continue support and development of research using pollen, molecular data and weather data to determine the most probable origin of insects that re-infest eradication or low weevil population areas; and 3) establish a boll weevil colony for eradication program quality assurance and research purposes.
The NCC’s Pink Bollworm Action Committee reviewed the success of its sterile moth eradication program and adopted a working definition of eradication as proposed by its Technical Advisory Committee. The Committee also discussed the development of a post eradication minimum standards protocol for program operations and requested further development of the concepts from the Technical Advisory Committee for the 2010 meeting.
Regulations for pesticides and biotechnology, climate change and sustainability were discussed by the NCC’s Environmental Task Force. That panel asked that staff conduct a confidential beltwide pesticide use survey. The survey’s data will be used to prepare comments to EPA regarding re-registration of crop protection products. The Task Force also met privately with representatives from several Cotton Technology Project sponsoring firms to discuss management strategies for herbicide resistant weeds, with emphasis on glyphosate resistant weeds.
The Joint Cotton Industry Bale Packaging Committee (JCIBPC) amended the 2008 Cotton Bale Packaging Specifications by adding “Certificate of Analysis” reporting requirements covering bagging and ties; removing hot blade weld technology as an approved method for applying polyester plastic strapping; adding references for 100% cotton bale bags covering identification, inspection, certification and test methods; and amending burlap bag references to not allow any colored yarns in fabrics intended for use as bale bagging. The JCIBPC also agreed to consider a phase-out of burlap as an approved material within two to three years.
In a separate action, the JCIBPC strongly encouraged all gins using materials approved for wrapping experimental test program bales to recess their bale ties. A bale tag list provision for all test programs also was added. The provision asks gins participating in test programs to keep lists by PBI number for bales wrapped or tied with materials in JCIBPC-sponsored test programs. The provision goes on to make the firms sponsoring test programs responsible for collecting tag lists from their participating gins then submitting the lists to the bale packaging committee.
NCC online surveys of U.S. and foreign textile mills initiated under its “KeepItClean” initiative collected valuable information that is used to improve lint contamination prevention programs and bale packaging material performance. Survey responses came from virtually all domestic mills and more than 170 foreign mills.
The NCC protested surcharge increases imposed by some major U.S.-Asia container shipping line members of the Westbound Transpacific Stabilization Agreement along with other agricultural transportation interests.
An Agriculture Transportation Coalition (AgTC) conference was attended by NCC, and participants discussed seeking help from Congress on shipping laws and regulations that addressed agriculture transportation concerns. AgTC agreed to continue pushing federal regulators to examine shipping companies’ practices. In addition the NCC worked with the Ag Transportation Working Group and others on cotton logistic concerns. Those groups actively encouraged Congress, federal agencies and other regulatory bodies to review transportation modes whose rates and practices discriminate against cotton.
Merchants and warehouses were urged by the NCC to utilize an enhancement to EWR, Inc.’s electronic warehouse receipt process as one way to eliminate shipping bottlenecks.
Merchants and warehouses were urged by the NCC to utilize an enhancement to EWR, Inc.’s electronic warehouse receipt process in order to further streamline the procedure for establishing bale shipping order load dates once shipping orders or early shipping orders are submitted. The portal feature, initiated on September 1, was requested by the NCC to eliminate shipping bottlenecks. The NCC also posted an explanation fact sheet on its website.
On other technical issues, the NCC:
- urged USDA to continue aflatoxin research ranging from the effects on environment to long term benefits;
- continued serving as a cooperator for the NCGA 2008 Ginner Schools; and
- was notified of Vice President Bill Norman’s appointment to USDA’s Agricultural Air Quality Task Force.