As the Agricultural Act of 2014 was implemented throughout 2014, the National Cotton Council (NCC) made it a priority to communicate regularly with members to enhance their understanding of key farm law decisions and deadlines. After that legislation was signed early in 2014, the NCC immediately scheduled 49 education meetings in 15 Cotton Belt states. Likewise, when USDA announced details regarding the farm law's crop insurance provisions later in the year, the NCC conducted 25 workshops across the Cotton Belt. Throughout the year, the NCC posted on its website multiple documents such as rule implementation announcements, provision fact sheets/summaries and frequently asked questions.
In the trade arena, the NCC faced late year adversity after the Turkish Ministry of Economy announced it was investigating imports of U.S. cotton to determine if "dumping" was occurring in the Turkish market. We worked quickly to keep affected members apprised of the situation and to convey industry concerns to the Administration and Congress. Fortunately, the U.S.-Brazil dispute in the World Trade Organization was concluded in the fall. The U.S. cotton industry had undertaken extensive efforts to resolve this case and offered comprehensive reform of cotton policy as part of the new farm law.
Following the Brazil settlement's announcement, the NCC responded with a statement distributed to news media that said "when compared to previous programs, cotton policy is more market-oriented with the primary safety net conveyed through insurance products that must be purchased by the producer." The NCC distributed numerous other statements regarding the industry's views on key legislative and regulatory issues. We also reacted swiftly to negative and misleading editorials on topics ranging from the Brazil agreement to honey bee health.
The NCC continued to participate in various coalitions as a means to strongly convey the industry's views on a number of regulatory matters. Those issues ranged from on-farm fuel storage and pesticide use to worker protection rules. A prime example were the NCC letters conveying support for the Waters of the United States Regulatory Overreach Protection Act of 2014 – which passed the House. Likewise, NCC members responded quickly to an Action Alert to garner support for H.R. 935, the "Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act."
Through bulletins and other communications, the NCC encouraged members' adherence to procedures aimed at improving cotton flow and quality. Those ranged from shipping order protocols and warehouse flow reports to the use of approved bagging/ties and proactive contamination prevention practices.
Cotton Council International (CCI) also responded to this past year's competitive business environment by revitalizing and re-launching its 25-year old flagship brand, COTTON USA, and employing a global COTTON USA marketing initiative that highlights the industry's commitment to purity, quality and responsibility. CCI capitalized on COTTON USA, a name which has been carried on more than 50,000 product lines and 3 billion products since 1989 – and which translated into about 100 million bales of cotton.
Cotton Foundation trustees approved 20 general research projects supported with Foundation members' dues. Included were studies related to pest management, sustainability, pollinator protection, fiber quality, agronomic practices and education. Several Foundation members provided grants over and above their dues to fund special projects, including the High Cotton Awards program, which celebrated its 20th year.
These and other details of the NCC's 2014 activities are described below under the major headings of Farm Policy, Trade, Communications, Technical, Cotton Council International and The Cotton Foundation.
President/Chief Executive Officer