NCC: Kent Fountain to Lead National Cotton Council in 2020

MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Kent Fountain, a Surrency, Ga., ginner, was elected National Cotton Council (NCC) chairman for 2020.

Named during the NCC’s 2020 annual meeting, held in New Orleans, La., on February 14-160, Fountain moves up from NCC vice chairman to succeed Mike Tate, a cotton producer from Huntsville, Alabama.

A member of the NCC’s 2001-2002 Cotton Leadership Class, Fountain served as a NCC vice president from 2016-2018 and a NCC director in 2011. He has served on numerous NCC committees and has been the chairman of its Quality Task Force since 2016. Since 2010, he has served as a director of Cotton Council International, the NCC’s export promotion arm.

A past president of the Southeastern Cotton Ginners Association and the National Cotton Ginners Association, Fountain currently serves as a director for Staplcotn and Cotton Growers Warehouse Association.

Fountain, who earned a degree in Agricultural Economics at the University of Georgia, is the president/CEO of Southeastern Gin and Peanut, Incorporated in Surrency. The recipient of numerous honors, Fountain was named Southeastern Ginner of the Year in 2001 and received the Horace Hayden National Ginner of the Year Award in 2016.

Fountain and his wife, Missi, live in Screven, Ga., and have two sons.

Ted Schneider, a Lake Providence, La., producer, was elected as NCC vice chairman.

Elected as NCC vice presidents are Jordan Lea, a Greenville, S.C., merchant, and Robin Perkins, a Sanford, N.C., textile manufacturer. Re-elected as NCC vice presidents are: Kirk Gilkey, ginner, Corcoran, Calif.; and Kevin Brinkley, marketing cooperative executive; Ron Harkey, warehouser; and Robert Lacy, Jr, cottonseed processor; all from Lubbock, Texas. Re-elected as secretary-treasurer is Barry Evans, a producer from Kress, Texas.

NCC staff officers include: Dr. Gary Adams, NCC president and chief executive officer; Harrison Ashley, vice president, Ginner Services; Craig Brown, vice president, Producer Affairs; Dr. Jody Campiche, vice president, Economics and Policy Analysis; John Gibson, vice president, Member Services; Reece Langley, vice president, Washington Operations; Dr. Bill Norman, vice president, Technical Services; and Marjory Walker, vice president, Council Operations.


NEW ORLEANS, La. (February 14, 2020) – Richard L. (Ricky) Clarke, III, a merchant from Cordova, Tenn., will serve as president of Cotton Council International (CCI) for 2020. CCI is the National Cotton Council’s (NCC) export promotion arm and carries out programs in more than 50 countries globally under the COTTON USA™ trademark.

Clarke, who moves up from CCI first vice president, succeeds Hank Reichle, a cooperative official from Greenwood, Miss., who becomes CCI board chairman. Clarke, Reichle and other CCI officers were elected at CCI’s board meeting during the NCC’s 2020 Annual Meeting held February 14-16 in New Orleans, Louisiana.

“I look forward to leading CCI in its mission of making U.S. cotton ‘The Cotton The World Trusts’ for mills, manufacturers, brands, retailers and consumers worldwide,” Clarke said. “COTTON USA promotional events in 2020 will continue to educate this audience and stimulate U.S. cotton sales via networking opportunities throughout the global supply chain.”

Clarke is vice president/senior merchant for Cargill Cotton, Business Unit of Cargill, Inc. His current merchandising responsibilities include sales to several Asian markets.

Clarke, who was raised in Greenwood, Miss., graduated from Mississippi State University in 1980 and earned an MBA from Memphis State University in 1987. He started with Cargill’s Cotton Business Unit (Hohenberg Bros. Co.) in 1980 and has worked for Cargill Cotton in various merchandising capacities. Those include managing the Phoenix office, merchandising all of the major growth regions in the United States and working a stint with Cargill Cotton’s Liverpool office.

Clarke is active with the NCC and is an American Cotton Shippers Association director. He is married to Terri Clarke and has four children and two grandsons.

Other 2020 CCI officers elected include: first vice president, Ted Sheely, producer, Lemoore, Calif.; second vice president, Carlos C. Garcia, cooperative official, Lubbock, Texas; and treasurer, Steven Dyer, merchant, Cordova, Tennessee. In addition, Gary Adams, Cordova, was elected as secretary and Bruce Atherley, Washington, D.C., elected as assistant secretary.

Elected as 2020 CCI directors were: George G. LaCour, Jr., a ginner from Morganza, La.; John C. King, III, a merchant from Helena, Ark.; Neal Isbell, a producer from Muscle Shoals, Ala.; and John F. Lindamood, a producer from Tiptonville, Tennessee.

Re-elected as 2020 CCI directors were: PRODUCERS – J. Lee Cromley, Brooklet, Ga.; Richard Gaona, Roby, Texas; Craig A. Heinrich, Lubbock, Texas; Matthew R. (Matt) Hyneman, Jonesboro, Ark.; and Paul (Paco) Ollerton, Casa Grande, Ariz.; GINNERS – Curtis H. Stewart, Spade, Texas; MERCHANTS – Philip R. (Phil) Bogel, II, Dallas, Texas; Tim G. North, Dallas, Texas; Ernst D. (Ernie) Schroeder, Jr., Bakersfield, Calif.; and William Barksdale, Cordova, Tenn.; COOPERATIVES – Frederick Barrier, Greenwood, Miss.; Carlo Bocardo, Bakersfield, Calif.; Donald Robinson, Garner, N.C.; COTTONSEED – James C. Massey, Harlingen, Texas; WAREHOUSEMAN – Vance C. Shoaf, Milan, Tenn.; and MANUFACTURERS – Robin Perkins, Sanford, N.C.; and Davis Warlick, Charlotte, North Carolina.

Cotton Council International (CCI) is a non-profit trade association that promotes U.S. cotton fiber and manufactured cotton products around the globe with our COTTON USA™ Mark. Our reach extends to more than 50 countries through 20 offices around the world. With more than 60 years of experience, CCI’s mission is to make U.S. cotton the preferred fiber for mills/manufacturers, brands/retailers and consumers, commanding a value-added premium that delivers profitability across the U.S. cotton industry and drives export growth of fiber, yarn and other cotton products. For more information, visit

2020 NCC World Cotton Outlook: U.S.-China Phase 1 Implementation and Coronavirus Bring New Uncertainties

MEMPHIS, Tenn. – National Cotton Council economists point to a few key factors that will shape the U.S. cotton industry’s 2020 economic outlook.

This past year can be characterized as a year with significant uncertainty and volatility in the global economy and the world cotton market. On January 15, 2020, Trump signed the Phase 1 trade agreement with China. As part of the agreement, China has agreed to purchase an average of $40 billion in U.S. agricultural commodities, including cotton, over the next two years. However, the overall impact for cotton remains uncertain as commodity specific details have not been released.

While the Phase 1 trade agreement provided some cautious optimism for an improvement in the cotton economic situation, the China coronavirus outbreak in the early weeks of 2020 could delay China’s ability to increase purchases in the near-term. As a result, the potential impacts of the coronavirus represent a significant wildcard in the outlook for the world cotton market in the 2020 crop year.

In her analysis of the NCC Annual Planting Intentions survey results, Campiche said the NCC projects 2020 U.S. cotton acreage to be 13.0 million acres, 5.5 percent less than 2019. The expected drop in acreage is the result of slightly weaker cotton prices relative to corn and soybeans. With abandonment assumed at 13.8 percent for the United States, Cotton Belt harvested area totals 11.2 million acres. Using an average 2020 U.S. yield per harvested acre of 848 pounds generates a cotton crop of 19.8 million bales, with 19.1 million upland bales and 675,000 extra-long staple bales. U.S. cottonseed production is projected to decrease to 6.1 million tons in 2020.

Regarding domestic mill cotton use, the NCC is projecting a slight decline in U.S. mill use to 2.85 million bales in the 2020 crop year. As one of largest markets for U.S. cotton, U.S. mills continue to be critically important to the health of the cotton industry. In the face of rising textile imports from Asian suppliers, the U.S. textile industry has focused on new investment and technology adoption in order to remain competitive. The recently passed U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) includes some important provisions that should help boost the U.S. textile industry.

Campiche noted that export markets continue to be U.S. raw fiber’s primary outlet. World trade is estimated to be higher in the 2019 marketing year, but the retaliatory tariffs and increased competition from other major exporting countries has led to a sharp decline in the U.S. trade share in China. Despite the continued U.S.-China trade disruptions, U.S. export sales to other markets have been very strong for the current crop year.

Sales reached the highest level in the marketing year during the week ending on February 6. While export competition from Brazil remains strong, the U.S. has had increased opportunities for export sales to other markets in the 2019 crop year. Lower production in Australia, Pakistan, and Turkey has led to higher U.S. export sales. As a result, the United States will remain the largest exporter of cotton in 2019 with 16.5 million bales.

Prior to the implementation of tariffs, the United States was in a prime position to capitalize on the increase in Chinese cotton imports. With the imposition of the 25.0 percent tariff, China has turned to other suppliers during the 2018 and 2019 marketing years, allowing Brazil, Australia, and other countries to gain market share. Vietnam is currently the top export market for U.S. cotton in the 2019 crop year, followed by China and Pakistan.

U.S. exports are projected to drop slightly to 16.4 million bales in the 2020 marketing year. For this outlook, the U.S. is assumed to export 2.5 million bales to China in the 2020 crop year as compared to an estimated 2.0 million bales in the 2019 crop year. However, with record stocks outside of China, increased production in Brazil, and a partial recovery in Australia’s production, the U.S. will continue to face strong export competition in 2020. When combined with U.S. mill use, total offtake falls short of expected production, and ending stocks are projected at 5.9 million bales.

Campiche said world production is estimated to decline by 2.4 million bales in 2020 to 118.9 million as a result of lower cotton acreage. World mill use is projected to increase to 121.7 million bales in 2020. Ending stocks are projected to decline by 2.0 million bales in the 2020 marketing year to 80.1 million bales, resulting in a stocks-to-use ratio of 66.4 percent. Stocks outside of China are projected to increase to a record level in 2020.

Based on the underlying assumptions and resulting cotton balance sheet, stable stocks outside of China, increased export competition from Brazil, recovery in Australia’s production, and low manmade fiber prices will have a bearish influence on cotton prices. A quick containment of the coronavirus and a successful implementation of the Phase 1 trade agreement would provide support to prices.

As with any projections, there are uncertainties and unknowns that can change the outcome.

Additional details of the 2020 Cotton Economic Outlook are on the NCC’s website at

NCC Survey Suggests U.S. Producers to Plant 13.0 Million Acres of Cotton in 2020

MEMPHIS, Tenn. – U.S. cotton producers intend to plant 13.0 million cotton acres this spring, down 5.5 percent from 2019 (based on USDA’s February 2020 estimate), according to the National Cotton Council’s 39th Annual Early Season Planting Intentions Survey. (see table attached)

Upland cotton intentions are 12.8 million acres, down 5.6 percent from 2019, while extra-long staple (ELS) intentions of 224,000 acres represent a 2.7 percent decline. The survey results were announced today at the NCC’s 2020 Annual Meeting in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Dr. Jody Campiche, the NCC’s vice president, Economics & Policy Analysis, said, “Planted acreage is just one of the factors that will determine supplies of cotton and cottonseed. Ultimately, weather, insect pressures and agronomic conditions play a significant role in determining crop size.”

She said that with abandonment assumed at 13.8 percent for the United States, Cotton Belt harvested area totals 11.2 million acres. Using an average U.S. yield per harvested acre of 848 pounds generates a cotton crop of 19.8 million bales, with 19.1 million upland bales and 675,000 ELS bales.

The NCC questionnaire, mailed in mid-December 2019 to producers across the 17-state Cotton Belt, asked producers for the number of acres devoted to cotton and other crops in 2019 and the acres planned for the coming season. Survey responses were collected through mid-January.

Campiche noted, “History has shown that U.S. farmers respond to relative prices when making planting decisions. The cotton-to-corn and cotton-to-soybean price ratios are lower than in 2019 due to lower cotton prices and higher corn and soybean prices. A price ratio decrease generally indicates a decline in cotton acreage. For the 2020 crop year, corn, soybeans, and wheat are expected to provide modestly more competition for cotton acres.”

Southeast respondents indicate a 9.3 percent decrease in the region’s upland area to 2.7 million acres. All states in the Southeast show a decline in acreage. In Alabama, the survey responses indicate a 4.9 percent decrease in cotton acreage. In Florida, respondents indicated slightly less cotton due to a shift to corn. In Georgia, cotton acreage is expected to decline by 11.9 percent as growers expect to plant more corn and peanuts. In North Carolina, an 8.4 percent decline is expected. In South Carolina, cotton acreage is expected to decline by 10.7 percent while acreage of corn and  soybeans is expected in increase. Cotton acreage is expected to decline by 3.6 percent in Virginia.

Mid-South growers intend to plant 2.2 million acres, a decline of 6.5 percent from the previous year. Across the region, all states intend to decrease cotton acreage. Arkansas producers intend to plant 3.0 percent less cotton acreage and increase corn acres. Louisiana producers expect to plant 6.4 percent less cotton acreage in 2020 and plant more corn and soybeans. In Mississippi, cotton acreage is expected to decrease by 8.9 percent due to a shift to corn and soybeans. Missouri growers expect to decrease cotton acres by 2.1 percent and plant more corn. In Tennessee, cotton acreage is expected to decline by 11.8 percent percent as land shifts to corn and soybeans.

Southwest growers intend to plant 7.6 million cotton acres, a 3.4 percent decline. Increases in cotton area are expected in Kansas and Oklahoma, while a decrease is expected in Texas. In Kansas, producers intend to plant 5.1 percent more cotton acres and reduce corn and soybean acreage. In Oklahoma, a 3.3 percent increase in cotton acreage is expected. Texas acreage is expected to decline by 4.2 percent while corn and wheat acreage is expected to increase.

Far West producers are expecting to plant 221,000 upland cotton acres – a 20.5 percent decrease from 2019. Cotton acreage is expected to decrease in Arizona and California and increase slightly in New Mexico.

At current prices, many producers could continue to face difficult economic conditions in 2020. Production costs remain high, and unless producers have good yields, current prices may not be enough to cover all production expenses.

NCC delegates were reminded the expectations are a snapshot of intentions based on market conditions at survey time with actual plantings influenced by changing market conditions/weather.

Prospective 2020 U.S. Cotton Area

  2019 Actual (Thou.)  1/  2020 Intended (Thou.)  2/ Percent Change
SOUTHEAST 2,965  2,690  -9.3% 
  Alabama 540 513 -4.9%
  Florida 112 110 -2.2%
  Georgia 1,400 1,233 -11.9%
  North Carolina 510 467 -8.4%
  South Carolina 300 268 -10.7%
  Virginia 103 99 -3.6%
MID-SOUTH 2,400  2,244  -6.5% 
  Arkansas 620 601 -3.0%
  Louisiana 280 262 -6.4%
  Mississippi 710 647 -8.9%
  Missouri 380 372 -2.1%
  Tennessee 410 362 -11.8%
SOUTHWEST 7,865  7,598  -3.4% 
  Kansas 175 184 5.1%
  Oklahoma 640 661 3.3%
  Texas 7,050 6,753 -4.2%
WEST 278  221  -20.5% 
  Arizona 160 119 -25.7%
  California 55 38 -30.9%
  New Mexico 63 64 1.7%
TOTAL UPLAND 13,508  12,753  -5.6% 
TOTAL ELS 230  224  -2.7% 
  Arizona 8 7 -1.8%
  California 205 197 -3.9%
  New Mexico 5 5 0.0%
  Texas 12 14 15.5%
ALL COTTON 13,738  12,977  -5.5% 
1/ USDA-NASS February Estimate
2/ National Cotton Council

2019 Georgia Quality Cotton Award Winners Announced

2019gcqaThe 2019 Georgia Quality Cotton Awards were presented at the Georgia Cotton Commission’s 13th Annual Meeting and UGA Cotton Production Workshop on January 29, 2020 in Tifton, GA. The awards are co-sponsored by the Georgia Cotton Commission and BASF, and administered by the University of Georgia Cotton Team.

The purpose of the awards are to recognize producers and ginners of high-quality cotton fiber and to identify their general management practices for the benefit of other growers. The producers and their gins received a plaque and the winning producers received a $500 cash award. The UGA County Extension Agent for each winner was also recognized as they work closely with the farmers during the growing season.

The awards are given in each of these three cotton acreage categories: 1) less than 500 acres, 2) 500 to 1,000 acres, and 3) greater than 1,000 acres within the four regions of the state. Winners in these categories are determined by the loan value and premiums of their cotton. The winners’ excellent achievements are due largely to their management practices and expertise. The sponsors of this program congratulate all of the following winners:

Region 1

  • Less than 500 acres
    • Grower – Beth NeSmith, Turner County
    • Ginner – Sconyers Gin and Warehouse, Sycamore
    • UGA Extension Agent – Guy Hancock
  • 500-1000 acres
    • Grower – Mark Thompson, Pulaski County
    • Ginner – Arabi Gin Company
    • UGA Extension Agent – Jay Porter
  • 1000+ acres
    • Grower – Ronnie Conner, Wilcox County
    • Ginner – Worth Gin & Warehouse, Sylvester
    • UGA Extension Agent – Holly Anderson

Region 2

  • Less than 500 acres
    • Grower – Derek Davis, Washington County
    • Ginner – Midville Warehouse, Inc.
    • UGA Extension Agent – Tammy Cheely
  • 500-1000 acres
    • Grower – Buckhead Creek Farms, Jenkins County
    • Ginner – Midville Warehouse, Inc.
    • UGA Extension Agent – Katie Burch
  • 1000+ acres
    • Grower – Dean Johnson, Burke County
    • Ginner – Bryant’s Gin, Bartow
    • UGA Extension Agents – Peyton Sapp

Region 3

  • Less than 500 acres
    • Grower – Randall Webb, Tift County
    • Ginner – Omega Gin company
    • UGA Extension Agent – Justin Hand
  • 500-1000 acres
    • Grower – Chris Exum, Brooks County
    • Ginner – BCT Gin Co., Inc., Quitman
    • UGA Extension Agents – Stephanie Hollifield
  • 1000+ acres
    • Grower – Brian & Ken Ponder, Tift County
    • Ginner – Omega Gin Company
    • UGA Extension Agents – Justin Hand

Region 4

  • Less than 500 acres
    • Grower – Andrew Rayburn, Thomas County
    • Ginner – BCT Gin Co., Inc., Quitman
    • UGA Extension Agent – Sydni Barwick
  • 500-1000 acres
    • Grower – Stacey & Stuart Jones, Worth County
    • Ginner – Worth Gin & Warehouse, Sylvester
    • UGA Extension Agent – Scott Carlson & Bryce Sutherland
  • 1000+ acres
    • Grower – Brian Rayburn, Thomas County
    • Ginner – BCT Gin Co., Inc., Quitman
    • UGA Extension Agent – Sydni Barwick

The final award given was the overall Best Cotton Award. This was awarded to the Georgia cotton producer with highest loan value and premium. The 2019 Best Cotton Award went to Washington County’s Derek Davis with a loan value of 56.82 cents/lb and a premium of 4.82 cents/lb.

For a full photo album of the winners, visit our Facebook page at

USMCA Offers Stability in Key Markets

MEMPHIS, Tenn. – The National Cotton Council (NCC) applauded President Trump’s signing today of the Congressionally-approved U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).

NCC Chairman Mike Tate said this trade agreement will provide a boost in trade certainty for U.S. cotton and cotton textile products in the North American market. He noted that Mexico is the second largest export market for U.S. cotton textile/apparel products and Canada is the fourth largest for these goods. Mexico also is a top market for U.S. raw cotton.

The Alabama cotton producer said the USMCA, which updates and modifies the North American Free Trade Agreement, includes a textile chapter that offers significant improvements for domestic textile manufacturers and workers. Among those provisions are: a stronger rule of origin for certain regional textile products; strong customs enforcement language; and ensuring that a significant amount that the Department of Homeland Security spends annually on clothing and textiles is on domestically-produced products.

NCC: New Waters Rule Is Practical

MEMPHIS, Tenn. – The National Cotton Council welcomed the EPA/Corps of Engineers’ release today of the Trump Administration’s version of the “waters of the United States,” officially named the Navigable Waters Protection Rule.

NCC Chairman Mike Tate said, “This final rule removes many elements from federal control that were initiated in the previous administration. That includes features that contain water only in response to rainfall, groundwater, many farm and roadside ditches, prior converted cropland and stock watering ponds.”

The Alabama cotton producer noted that the NCC has worked tirelessly for this rule – an action which will restore power to states for controlling their own waters and their local land use and zoning issues.

“The U.S. cotton industry has long sought consistency and simplicity in water regulations,” Tate reiterated, “because all of agriculture deserves a commonsense and understandable rule that not only ensures environmental and human health but protects farmland and farmers’ rights to conduct operations in a responsible and economically sustainable manner with flexibility that wasn’t present under the 2015 rule.”

Tate said the NCC will continue to monitor the rule’s implementation.

2019 Cotton Variety Performance

The University of Georgia works to provide producers with information on performance of cotton varieties through two programs.  The state-wide variety testing program conducts the Official Variety Trial or OVT program to evaluate yield potential of a large number of new and commercial varieties in a selected number of irrigated and dryland small plot trials.  Preliminary 2019 OVT results can be found at  The UGA On-Farm Cotton Variety Evaluation Program (OFT) compares the performance of a much smaller set of varieties, which have been proven to have a fit in Georgia, in a significantly larger number of locations in large-plot, replicated strip-trials.  We thank the many County Agents and cooperating growers who participated in the on-farm program.

Both programs provide significant clues to which varieties will likely be the best performers in 2020.  Data from the UGA On-Farm Cotton Variety Evaluation Program provides information not only on yield potential, which is one of the most important factors in choosing varieties, but consistency and stability of performance across varying yield environments.  Since the inception of this program, it has become clear that stability and consistency of performance in the past is one of the best ways to predict future performance.  All varieties evaluated in the on-farm trials have shown the potential to do well in Georgia and this program is intended to compare the “best of the best” choices for Georgia producers.

In 2019, a total of 11 varieties from five seed companies were evaluated in the 2019 UGA OFT program.  Varieties were evaluated in a total of 25 on-farm strip trials, 13 irrigated and 12 dryland locations.  Trials were planted, managed, and harvested by cooperating growers.  The trials were conducted across the Coastal Plain of Georgia, where the vast majority of cotton is produced.  Yield environments or trial averages across locations ranged from a low of 519 lbs. lint/acre to a high of 1,615 lbs. lint/acre.  Commercially harvested seedcotton samples were collected and taken to the UGA Microgin to determine lint percentage and ultimately fiber quality.  We are continuing to collect and summarize fiber quality data.  Once completed a final report of the UGA OFT data will be posted on  Contact your County Agent for additional information on variety performance.

2019 On-Farm Cotton Variety Evaluation All Locations Average LSD (p=0.1) % Above Trial Average % Among Top 3
DG 3615 B3XF 1,206 a 68 60
DP 1646 B2XF 1,185 ab 76 52
PHY PX3B07 W3FE 1,170 ab 64 36
ST 5471 GLTP 1,165 ab 64 24
DP 1851 B3XF 1,161 bc 68 32
DP 1840 B3XF 1,140 bcd 48 40
ST 5600 B2XF 1,120 cde 44 16
PHY PX5D28B W3FE 1,119 cde 36 16
CG 19XG9B3XF 1,101 de 24 16
NG 5711 B3XF 1,086 e 28 8
NG 3930 B3XF 1,016 f 8 0

This study was conducted by UGA Extension Cotton Specialists Jared Whitaker and Mark Freeman.  This article was written by UGA Extension Entomologist Phillip Roberts.

Cotton Commission pleased with USMCA Vote

The Georgia Cotton Commission is appreciative of the recent passage of the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement in the House of Representatives and is hopeful that the Senate will take up this important matter quickly when they return in 2020.

Georgia Cotton Commission Chairman Bart Davis, a cotton producer from Colquitt County, said, “this is positive news for not just cotton producers here in Georgia, but for the cotton industry at large.  Mexico and Canada are key markets for cotton, and I am hopeful that our exports to these countries will grow.”  Davis also commented that all members of Georgia’s bipartisan congressional delegation voted in favor of the agreement and thanked them for their support.