Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Blanche Lincoln and Ranking Member Senator Saxby Chambliss, along with 14 fellow Senators, have written USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack urging further changes in USDA's proposed Standard Reinsurance Agreement that will govern the public/private relationship that exists between private crop insurance providers and the USDA Risk Management Agency.
The letter follows an announcement that the USDA had extended a previously announced June 30 deadline for companies to sign the new agreement until July 12. The extension of the deadline was provided because of USDA revisions to the Agency's final draft of the agreement that had previously been presented to crop insurance companies.
Whether or not the Senate letter will encourage USDA to consider additional changes to the SRA before the July 12 deadline is an open question. Also in question, following the extension of the original deadline is how strictly the USDA will enforce the signing deadline.
The gist of the letter sent by Senators Lincoln and Chambliss their colleagues is the significant adverse impact the changes proposed in the SRA will have on the CBO baseline for reauthorization of the 2012 farm bill.
In addition to the budget concerns, which are extremely important, the Senate letter also questions the appropriateness of several changes USDA is trying to impose in the new SRA.
Specifically the Senate letter questions the USDA's attempt to limit the legal rights of both insurers and agents, who are not parties to the agreement, through a contract between the government and crop insurance companies by the inclusion of new language in the final draft that was not included in any of initial drafts of the proposed SRA.
Specifically the letter asked the Secretary, prior to the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation signing the final SRA with the companies, to provide the Senate Agriculture Committee "with any applicable supporting documentation relating to three main issues: the legal authority of FCIC to include this provision; any other Federal precedence for this type of a contractual provision involving a Federal agency; and any materials regarding official Administration policy that are supportive of contractually limiting the rights of U.S. citizens to seek redress in the courts.
Lastly, the Senate letter questions whether or not it is appropriate for USDA to put a cap on commissions paid to insurance agents through provisions in the SRA. The letter further notes that the Senators can think of "no precedent for the government restricting how much companies can compensate a specific class of workers, whether they are direct employees or independent contractors, as is the case with most agents."
With so many questions still unanswered and the interest of the Senate Agriculture Committee obviously peaked, it appears that the USDA's attempt to end the SRA negotiation process with a take or leave it final draft hasn't been successful.
Ultimately, it is the willingness of the Senate Agriculture Committee to engage, and push for changes in provisions where it believes USDA has overstepped its authority, that will determine how much of a positive impact they can have during the final stages of this SRA negotiation.
Members of the Plains Cotton Growers, Inc. Board of Directors will gather in Lubbock on Wednesday, July 14, 2010 to conduct the organization's July Board of Directors meeting. The meeting will begin at 2:30 p.m.
This will be the first quarterly meeting of the PCG Board of Directors for the 2010-2011 fiscal year. As such, one of the primary items of business for the PCG Board at this meeting will be consideration and approval of a new FY2010-2011 PCG Operating Budget.
In addition to the FY2010-2011 Budget discussion, the Board will also hear a cotton market report from Lubbock Cotton Exchange President Alan Vinson, of Ecom Cotton; a National Cotton Council update from NCC President and CEO Dr. Mark Lange; a report on the Clean Water Act and proposed EPA regulation of spray drift; and, a review of the upcoming NCC, Cotton Incorporated and Cotton Board caucuses to select High Plains representatives to serve in industry leadership positions.
The COTTON USA Advantage
CCI-FAX – July 6, 2010
"Naturally in Love" campaign successfully concludes in Beijing. CCI China held a fashion wedding party for the winning couple of a COTTON USA online video competition, culminating a series of COTTON USA "Naturally in Love" themed promotional events over the past eight months. CCI's "Naturally in Love" PR campaign promotes fashionable, natural U.S. cotton to Chinese consumers. The wedding, presented by fashion icon and COTTON USA ambassador Miss Xu Xiyuan (Da S), featured an exquisite all-cotton wedding dress designed by CCI, Da S and Alex Wang.
The event also served to display the latest COTTON USA licensee ranges, including special COTTON USA honeymoon pieces designed with a modern art perspective.
In addition, eight COTTON USA licensees organized a fashion show to honor the newlyweds. Models wore outfits by COTTON USA licensees Lotto, Ivy House, JNBY, Dazzle, Casablanca-Home, Croquis, Vigoss USA Jeans, Nautica and Dinosaur. The entire show illustrated the comfort, multi-functionality and fashion of cotton. Approximately 136 media representatives and 70 guests, including representatives from China's cotton industry and Beijing's ATO, attended this event. The COTTON USA "Naturally in Love" campaign began in 2009 as a follow-up to the 2008 COTTON USA promotion "For Nature, Therefore the Future"
UK and Italy COTTON USA websites deliver Mark values to consumers and the trade. In the first half of this year the UK and Italian consumer and trade websites attracted nearly 62,000 visits with a total of 142,150 page views. This was mainly due to the exposure created through the advertising campaign in the press and online, that appeared in titles such as Vogue, Marie Claire, Grazia and Elle.
Both countries showed the same trends, with consumers wanting to find out more about the ad campaign and the COTTON USA Mark, while the trade was more interested in COTTON USA Supply Chain Marketing (SCM) events and promotions. The consumer sites were also the focus for many competitions that involved COTTON USA's sponsorship of London Fashion Week Catwalk Show in the UK and "Natural Home" di COTTON USA in Italy. The trade sites also served to generate interest in the SCM Sourcing Tours to Bangladesh and China. Results from the Global Lifestyle Monitor survey were also reported and made available through the websites. These websites have continued to grow as a valuable information source for both consumers and the trade and to enforce the values of the COTTON USA Mark.
CCI selects winner of the online COTTON USA "Design Your Jeans" contest in Colombia. Participants designed 1,476 virtual pairs of jeans during the 45-day competition, promoted on the www.cottonusavacontigo.com website. The winner received about 5,950 votes for her jeans design, which was named "My Colombia" and featured the Colombian flag colors: yellow, blue and red. COTTON USA licensees donated in-store gift cards totaling $1,100. The gift cards were delivered to the winner's home as a special event, generating a one-on-one relationship with the winner in order to achieve positive word-of-mouth for the COTTON USA Mark.