The National Cotton Council (NCC) consistently conveyed the industry’s positions and concerns to Congressional Members and key government agency officials regarding critical legislative, trade, regulatory and environmental matters.
An important initiative occurred early in the year when the NCC escalated its call for cottonseed to be designated as an “other oilseed.” That effort included submitting letters to the editor to nearly 60 newspapers across the Cotton Belt. In the letters, the U.S. cotton industry leaders offered personal assessments of their area's dire cotton economic situation, including declining cotton acreage and industry infrastructure as well as how that negatively affects input suppliers, jobs and the overall local and state economies. The NCC also arranged interviews for cotton leaders with trade media and utilized social media outlets, including Facebook and Twitter, to widen the visibility and further gain Secretary of Agriculture Thomas Vilsack's attention on the matter.
The NCC escalated its social media campaign across Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and podcasts via YouTube, and added another platform, Instagram. The posts on these outlets highlight news and information from the NCC, Cotton Council International and the broader cotton industry. The overall goal is informing, educating and creating positive perceptions regarding the NCC and the U.S. cotton industry among the NCC's primary audiences of NCC members, Congress/Congressional staffers and consumers. The NCC's social media strategy retains a focus on its website while incorporating additional communications channels that allow direct engagement, responsive communication and advocate-building.
The NCC continued as an in-kind supporter of America’s Heartland, the award-winning national television series celebrating American agriculture. The series, in its 13th season and aired on public television and the RFD-TV cable and satellite channel, educates consumers about the origins of their food, fuel and fiber. In addition, the NCC continued to participate in Farm Policy Facts (http://www.farmpolicyfacts.org/). That and “The Hand That Feeds Us” initiative are committed to ensuring American agriculture’s long-term success by facilitating meaningful conversations with legislators and consumers about how food and fiber is produced.
The NCC initiated a redesign of its website, www.cotton.org, which it continued to utilize along with its Cotton’s Week newsletter, radio news lines, videos, and columns in various trade publications for disseminating key information to its members. That ranged from relaying details and deadline information on USDA’s Cotton Ginning Cost-Share program to the need for industry members to escalate their efforts on seed cotton/lint contamination prevention.
Updates were completed on NCC educational videos covering harvest safety and contamination prevention. The contamination prevention video was one of many elements of the NCC’s “Keep it Clean” initiative which also included updated content, posters, mailings, printed pieces and a new page on the NCC’s website containing links to the contamination prevention resources.
Weekly RFD-TV segments highlighting issues important to the industry continued to be produced. Video offerings also included monthly segments for Cotton International’s web podcast series on a number of economic topics, as well as various Ag Day segments on key news topics.