House Passes Cotton Support Legislation

The Georgia Cotton Commission commends the United States House of Representatives for their passage of HR 4667 yesterday.  We are especially grateful for the support of Georgia Members of Congress: Buddy Carter, Sanford Bishop, Drew Ferguson, Karen Handel, Austin Scott, Doug Collins, Rick Allen, and David Scott.

This legislation places cottonseed under Title 1 of the Farm Bill, and will allow assistance for Georgia cotton growers who are struggling with depressed markets.

The Commission is hopeful that the United States Senate will take up this legislation when they return to Washington in 2018.

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NCC: Tax Reform Welcome, Stronger Farm Policy Needed

MEMPHIS, Tenn. – The U.S. cotton industry is pleased with passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (H.R. 1) – legislation it supported that can spur economic growth by 1) lowering taxes and 2) simplifying the code for America’s cotton producers and associated businesses.

National Cotton Council (NCC) President/CEO Gary Adams wrote to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) thanking them for crafting and for shepherding through Congress a bill that will allow farm families to further invest in their operations and preserve that farm for future generations by allowing full and immediate expensing of capital purchases and doubling the estate tax exemption.

“As you know, many family farms are structured as pass-through entities, and we appreciate the provisions to specifically provide tax relief for these entities as well as a provision for cooperatives and their members given the loss of Section 199,” Adams stated in his letter. “The lowering of individual tax rates will further help alleviate the tax burden on farm families.”

Adams also noted that U.S. cotton producers continue to face low prices and high input costs while lacking an adequate farm bill safety net. As a result, a number of family cotton farms and other cotton businesses have been lost in recent years.

“We look forward to working with Congress, both in the near term and through the upcoming farm bill debate,” Adams stated, “to provide cotton farming families with the necessary policy improvements to withstand the unique challenges of cotton production and marketing. This tax reform bill will certainly be welcome news for our industry, yet there is still critically important work to do for the cotton industry by strengthening and improving the current farm bill to address the challenges facing our farm families today.”

The NCC is U.S. cotton’s central organization, and its members include producers, ginners, cottonseed processors and merchandizers, merchants, marketing cooperatives, warehousers, and textile manufacturers. Farms and businesses directly involved in the production, distribution and processing of cotton employ more than 125,000 workers and produce direct business revenue of more than $21 billion. Accounting for the ripple effect of cotton through the broader economy, direct and indirect employment surpasses 280,000 workers with economic activity of almost $100 billion.

How Environmental Consciousness in China is Good for Georgia Cotton Farmers

China for years has been the final destination for the products that we as American’s recycle, much to the dismay of the Chinese environment.  Apparently “enough is enough” as they say, as the Chinese Ministry of Environmental Protection notified the World Trade Organization that they would no longer accept shipments of 24 different types of plastic, including Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET) and many other industrial wastes, in a move to focus more on recycling domestic products and cleaning up extremely polluted surroundings.  Furthermore, polyester plants are being required to abate pollution or close.  While this policy shift is potentially damaging for the American recycling business that has depended heavily on exports, it is inversely positive for cotton farmers across the US.

This comes as welcome news to a cotton market that has been extremely depressed over the past few years, as farmers have been producing the product below the cost of production.  The rise in use of low cost petroleum-based fibers has really hit the market for natural products over the past few years.  Over the past two years, the December 2018 cotton contract futures on the New York Board of Trade have gone below 60 cents per pound, are now in the low 70’s, but still have room to go up before producers become profitable.  Signals in the market show that over the next few years, consumers will shift from cheap polyesters to higher end natural and synthetic fibers.

PET was invented in 1941 and is made from crude oil.  About 60% of PET made worldwide is made into synthetic fibers and another 30% is used to make plastic bottles.  Those bottles can be recycled and then spun into cheap polyester fibers.  While there are higher-end polyesters, a great deal of the polyester we seen in apparel is made quickly and cheaply.   This process produces toxic chemicals and uses lots of fossil fuel energy, which is the concern of the Chinese as they look to improve their environment.

Pollution is a serious concern in China, as they account for just shy of 30% of carbon emissions released on the planet.  To make matters worse, much of the pollution is released in the eastern half of the country and a major portion of it is concentrated to a few cities.  Smog is so thick that in the capital city of Beijing video boards have been installed in Tiananmen Square and other landmarks to show pedestrians and tourists a virtual sunrise.

Further developments in this matter will be interesting to watch.  A word to those interested, policies can change very quickly in China so this isn’t written in stone.  After a year of hurricanes, whiteflies and depressed markets – any news is good news.  It is always interesting to see how one change in a non-agricultural industry on the other side of the world can be a positive force for family farmers here in Georgia.  For more information about this topic and others, please contact the Georgia Contact Commission at www.georgiacottoncommission.org or (478) 988-4235.

NCC Thanks U.S. Trade Representative for Support of U.S. Cotton Producers

MEMPHIS, Tenn. – National Cotton Council (NCC) Chairman Ronnie Lee thanked the leadership of U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and the U.S. negotiating team for their support of U.S. farmers at the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) 11th Ministerial Conference held this week in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Lee, a Georgia cotton producer, said, “We appreciate Ambassador Lighthizer and his team of negotiators from USTR and USDA for their efforts and their insistence that the WTO remain focused on the long-term goal of a balanced outcome that will expand trade. This was especially important for cotton, as some WTO members continue to call for concessions above and beyond the reforms we have already made, without anything in return.”

Lee noted that through the semi-annual dedicated discussions established by the WTO in December 2013, cotton is the only agricultural commodity with an explicit mechanism that allows for the evaluation of domestic support, export subsidies and market access.

For more information, visit the National Cotton Council’s website at http://www.cotton.org.

Speakers Announced: Georgia Cotton Commission 11th Annual Meeting Jan. 31, 2018

The Georgia Cotton Commission is pleased to announce the guest speakers at the Commission’s 10th Annual Meeting scheduled for Wednesday, January 31, 2018, at the UGA Tifton Campus Conference Center. The annual meeting is held in conjunction with the UGA Cotton Production Workshop conducted by the UGA Research & Extension Cotton Team.

The UGA Cotton Production Workshop will feature breakout sessions where attendees will learn the latest technical production strategies from the researchers whose projects are funded by the Commission’s research program. The Georgia Cotton Commission Annual Meeting will follow the breakout sessions and feature speakers from several industry organizations.

The program speakers are Reece Langley, Vice President of Washington Operations, National Cotton Council; Kater Hake, Vice President of Agricultural & Environmental Research, Cotton Incorporated; and Stacey Gorman, Director of Communications, The Cotton Board.

Reece Langley assumed his role as Vice President of Washington Operations at the National Cotton Council in 2014. He is responsible for coordinating the Washington activities for the Council, which includes working with Congress and the Administration, to ensure the U.S. cotton industry’s seven segments compete effectively and profitably in the global market. Prior to joining the Council, Langley was Vice President of Government Affairs for the USA Rice Federation. He also worked as a legislative assistant to Congressman Terry Everett (R-AL) prior to working for the USA Rice Federation.

Kater Hake is the Vice President of Agricultural & Environmental Research at Cotton Incorporated. In this role, Hake is responsible for the cotton production research program, and leads a team of eight scientists who develop and support innovative problem-solving research to increase the profitability and sustainability of cotton farming in the U.S.  Hake began his career at Cotton Incorporated in 2007. Previously, he was the Vice President of Technology Development at Delta and Pine Land Company. Hake received a Bachelor of Science degree in genetics and a Master of Science degree in agronomy from the University of California at Davis, and a Ph.D. in plant biology from the University of California at Riverside.

Stacey Gorman is the Director of Communications at The Cotton Board. She joined the staff of The Cotton Board in 2008 after graduating from the University of Central Arkansas with degrees in Public Relations and Writing. Stacey leads the ongoing efforts of the Cotton Board Communications Department to keep cotton producers informed of the activities stemming from the Cotton Research and Promotion. She creates and implements The Cotton Board’s advertising campaigns, manages social media, disseminates monthly grower newsletters and writes feature stories for Cotton Farming and Cotton Grower magazines. She is the Cotton Board Staff liaison to both Cotton Incorporated’s Importer Support Program and Consumer Marketing Committee. She and her husband Brandon have two children, and live in Warren, Arkansas.

Following the Annual Meeting speakers, the Commission will host lunch where sponsors will be recognized and door prizes will be given away. The meeting, production workshop, and lunch are open to not only cotton growers, but anyone interested in the cotton industry. The UGA Cotton Production Workshop breakout sessions will be repeated after lunch.

There is no charge to attend. Pre-registration is requested to help with meal plans.  Register online at www.ugatiftonconference.org or call (229) 386-3416.

Thank you to our sponsors:

Agri-AFC – Allenberg Cotton Co./ProCot  Americot, Inc.-NexGen – Amvac
Ameris Bank – Bayer – Choice Cotton – CNI  Cotton Growers Cooperative
Crop Production Services – Deltapine – Dow AgroSciences/PhytoGen
Farm Credit Associations of Georgia – Flint Ag & Turf – Holder Ag Consulting
Indigo – Kelley Manufacturing Co. – Lasseter Equipment Group
McLean Marechal Insurance/Nationwide Insurance  – Nachurs – Rabo AgriFinance
R.W. Griffin/Coffee County Gin/Four Corners Cotton Gin – SePRO Corporation
Scott T’s Ag-Flyin’, Inc. – Southeast AgNet – Staplcotn – Syngenta – Triangle
Valent – USA 
Yara North America

If you are interested in becoming a sponsor, please call GCC at (478) 988-4235 or click here.

2017 King Cotton Awards Presented to Sawyer and Miller

gacaa king cotton award photo 2017
Georgia’s cotton farmers rely heavily on their local University of Georgia (UGA) Cooperative Extension agent for many things.  Agents are known for delivering timely and accurate information, which is instrumental for the success of Georgia’s farmers.

For the seventeenth year in a row, the Georgia Cotton Commission sponsored the King Cotton Awards to recognize outstanding contributions of county agents to Georgia cotton producers. The Senior Award is for agents with 10 or more years of experience, while the Junior Award, named the Allen B. Fulford Award, is for those with less than 10 years of service. The latter award honors the accomplishments and memory of Allen B. Fulford as a county Extension agent and state cotton agronomist.  The awards were presented at the 2017 Georgia Association of County Agricultural Agents Annual Meeting & Professional Improvement Conference held in Columbus in November.

The 2017 Senior King Cotton Award winner is Andrew Sawyer of Wilcox County, where he serves as Agriculture & Natural Resources Agent.  He previously served as the ANR agent in Thomas County.  Sawyer has conducted variety trials with producers, and has put an emphasis on educating growers about new technologies and techniques.   He has worked tirelessly to educate the community on cotton through various means, including a weekly radio show that reached over 250,000 people.  For this, he received the Communications award from the Georgia Association of County Agricultural Agents.  Sawyer also has a blog that gives farmers, agribusinesses, and the general public with timely tips and educational information concerning agriculture and the environment.  He received both a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture and a Master of Plant Pathology and Pest Management from the University of Georgia, where he also was a member of the Redcoat Marching Band.

The 2017 Allen B. Fulford Award recipient is Jennifer Miller of Jeff Davis County, where she serves as ANR Agent.  She began her career with Gold Kist, and came to UGA Extension in 2006 as the 4-H Agent in Wheeler County.  She later served as the ANR Agent in Montgomery County and covered Treutlen County for part of that time.  Miller participates in the Statewide On-Farm Variety trials, a statewide project managed by county agents and Dr. Jared Whitaker, UGA Cotton Agronomist.  She has also conducted trials that have focused on irrigation and nematodes.  Miller has a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture degree from UGA, where she majored in Agriscience & Environmental Systems.

The Georgia Cotton Commission is a producer-funded organization located in Perry, Georgia. The Commission began in 1965. Georgia cotton producers pay an assessment enabling the Commission to invest in programs of research, promotion, and education on behalf of all cotton producers of Georgia. For more information about the Georgia Cotton Commission please call 478-988-4235 or on the web at www.georgiacottoncommission.org.