Beltwide Conference Spotlights Key Issues

Friday, January 9, 2004                      By Shawn Wade

      With U.S. cotton policy underalmost constant attack and a rapidly heating election year political climate,producers at the 2004 Beltwide Cotton Conference in San Antonio were able togain important insight on many of the issues that will take center stage in2004.

      Sponsored by the NationalCotton Council, the 2004 Beltwide Conference was well attended and includedreports from National Cotton Council staff, producer leaders and key industryfigures. Reports were provided on legislative affairs, trade, and marketoutlooks for the 2004 crop year.

      NCC Vice President ofWashington Operations John Maguire discussed the Washington political climateand what challenges could be expected in 2004.

      According to Maguire theindustry faces another challenging year in Washington and around the world asnew regional trade pacts are developed, WTO agreements are renegotiated andU.S. budget issues are addressed amid election year influences.

      He also warned that producersshould expect future budget consideration and the effort to correct the currentbudget deficit to once again provide opponents of the current farm program astage from which to try and chip away at the current program.

      Opening day presentationsalso included a report from incoming NCC Chairman Woody Anderson of ColoradoCity, Texas. Anderson discussed the findings of a recent NCC Leadership Tour ofBrazil. His report reiterated what many have already reported concerningBrazil’s cotton industry.

      The crux of Anderson’smessage was that although Brazil has many obstacles to overcome, the potentialthe country has for expansion in the area of cotton production is real andshould not be overlooked.

      On a brighter note, marketprospects were buoyed somewhat even though a significant increase in worldproduction is expected in 2004. Seasoned market commentator William B.Dunavant, Jr., provided his thoughts on the issue and left those in attendancewith a cautiously optimistic outlook for prices and demand in 2004.

      One of the key components ofalmost every report and discussion at this year’s Beltwide, includingDunavant’s, was China’s position within the world cotton complex and how theirdecisions will be the driving force for both prices and demand in 2004.

      Dunavant noted that despitevarying government and industry estimates of Chinese production and carryoverstocks, the end results still leave China with an uncomfortably tight cottoncarryover situation.

      Given the size and voracityof the Chinese textile complex Dunavant said, “I must keep reminding myselfthat China’s year end carryover is going to be drastically low and they cannotafford not to replenish.”

      He added, “Yes we willproduce more cotton in the U.S. and the World next year, but it will not be inthe market place until November 2004. We have got to get from here to there andit will be a stretch.”

      Opening day also includedafternoon sessions on farm program mechanisms, precision agriculture, farm managementand the International Cotton Genome Initiative.

      Second day activities at theconferences focused attention on traditional production issues.

      The schedule includedpresentations and panel discussions on crop rotation, irrigation and water resourceissues, variety improvement and biotechnology. These presentations paved theway for afternoon breakout sessions allowing participants to focus on specificissues and gain additional information on new technology and managementconcepts.

      The 2004 Beltwide concludedThursday and Friday with a two-day Technical Conference where industry partnerspresented reports on cotton research projects being carried out across theBelt.

      Breakout sessions during thetechnical conference provided participants in depth presentations on productionand management systems, crop protection, economics and marketing, engineering,variety improvement, soil management, crop physiology, cotton utilization andvariety improvement.


CCI Programs Opening New Export Markets

Friday, January 9, 2004                      ByShawn Wade

      Cotton Council Internationalcontinues to be a bright spot for the U.S. cotton industry as it works to builddemand for U.S. grown cotton.

      Through CCI, U.S. cottonproducers are working to aggressively overcome the challenge of a shrinkingdomestic market and the need to expand export markets for their production.

      With worldwide demand forman-made fibers continuing to surpass demand for cotton and declining domesticconsumption, one of the biggest challenges U.S. growers face is building strongexport markets for more than 60 percent of the U.S. crop.

      To meet this challenge CCI isinvolved in several programs designed specifically to stimulate demand for U.S.cotton among foreign mill buyers and consumers.

      Consumer programs includeretailer promotions designed to increase sales for COTTON USA Mark licensees.

      The COTTON USA Mark is aregistered trademark that textile manufacturers can attach to their productsthat are 100 percent cotton and contain at least 50 percent U.S. cotton.

      The COTTON USA program hassome 200 participants from 10 countries in Asia, Europe and Latin America

      Supply oriented CCI programsinclude orientation tours of U.S. cotton production regions and industryfacilities for foreign textile mill buyers and executives. In 2003 CCI CottonOrientation Tour participants purchased more than 900,000 bales of U.S. cotton.

      Other major CCIaccomplishments from 2003 included the launch of the “New Face of Cotton”consumer campaign as part of the Cotton Gold Alliance (CGA). CCI and CottonIncorporated sponsor the CGA, in cooperation with the USDA.

      The CGA is devoted toincreasing consumption of cotton fiber among consumers of apparel and textileproducts in India, one of the fastest growing textile markets in the world.

      So far 21 companies,representing 35 brands have joined the CGA. They include two of India’s topretailers and international brands such as Lee, Wrangler, and Van Heusen.

      The CGA has also benefitedfrom third party contributions in the form of advertising and promotionsfeaturing the Seal of Cotton logo valued at $1.3 million.

      Through innovative programsthat shine a spotlight on the value and quality of U.S. cotton and the productsmade from it, CCI is playing an important role in the development of newforeign demand for U.S. cotton.

      CCI’s goal is to helpsolidify the U.S. cotton industry’s position as the number one export supplierof quality cotton in the world.


High Plains Production Conferences Offer CEUOpportunities for Producers

Friday, January 9, 2004                            ByShawn Wade

      Helping farmers stay up onthe latest trends in crop production, marketing, and management ideas is thenumber one goal of High Plains crop production conferences.

      Sponsored by the TexasCooperative Extension Service, the Conferences are scheduled so that producerscan gain the information and credit they need without having to travel too farfrom home.

      By attending the conferencesproducers can also earn continuing education units (CEUs) necessary to maintainprivate and commercial applicator licenses.


      This year’s conference datesand locations are:

Jan. 20 - West Plains Ag Conference

Women's Building, 1921 Black Gold Road, Levelland.

Conference begins with registration at 8 a.m. 3 CEUsoffered. Call the Extension office in Hockley County at 806-894-3159 fordetails.


Jan. 21 - Terry County Ag Conference and Trade Show

Nikki Vinson Youth Center, 110 East Hill St., Brownfield.

Conference begins at 8:30 a.m. 3 CEUs offered. Call theTerry County Extension office at 806-637-4060 for details.


Jan. 27 - Llano Estacado Cotton Conference

Bailey County Coliseum, Muleshoe.

Conference begins at 8:30 a.m. 5 CEUs offered. Call theExtension office in Bailey County at 806-272-4584 for details.


Jan. 28 - Caprock Cotton Conference

Plains Baptist Assembly south of Floydada.

Conference begins at 8:00 a.m. At least 3 CEUs offered.Registration costs $25 before Jan. 23 and $35 at the door. Call the Extensionoffice in Floyd County at 806-983-4912 or in Crosby County at (806) 675-2347for details.


Jan. 29 - Southern Mesa Ag Conference

Dawson County Annex Building, 609 North First, Lamesa.

Conference begins at 8:00 a.m. Registration costs $20 beforeJan. 23 and $25 at the door. 5 CEUs offered. Call the Dawson County Extensionoffice at 806-872-3444 for details.


Feb. 10 - The Hale & Swisher County Cotton Conference

Ollie Liner Center in Plainview.

Conference begins with at 8:30 a.m. 3 CEUs offered. Call theHale County Extension office at 806-291-5267 or the Swisher County Extensionoffice at 806-995-3726 for details.


Feb. 12 - The Sandyland Ag Conference

Gaines County Civic Building in Seminole.

Conference begins at 8:30 a.m. Call the Gaines CountyExtension office at 432-758-4006 for details.


Feb. 19 – Southwest Crops Production and Expo

Lubbock Memorial Civic Center in Lubbock.

Registration is free and the Conference begins at 8:00 a.m.For more information and to pre-register for the Conference call1-800-253-3160.