Terry County Cotton Producers Cleared
by ACSA Arbitration Panel
Friday, May 31, 2013 By Mary Jane Buerkle
Four Terry County cotton producers were cleared of wrongdoing by an American Cotton Shippers Association arbitration panel late last week as the panel handed down decisions on disputes between Venture Cotton Cooperative/Noble Americas Corp. and the producers.
The disputes unfairly targeted cotton producers who signed acre contracts with Venture Cotton Cooperative for the 2010 cotton crop. A wet spring and summer sent crop production estimates skyrocketing, but dry conditions set in throughout the rest of the 2010 season and a late-season hail storm destroyed a significant amount of acreage in areas southwest of Lubbock.
Venture sued cotton producers for the difference between the contracted estimate and the actual production, claiming that even though they delivered all the cotton they produced, they still were responsible for losses incurred due to the shortfall.
However, the arbitration panel's ruling detailed these four suits as "frivolous" and that the four producers all fulfilled their obligations under the acreage contract with Venture. The panel further directed that Venture and Noble equally reimburse the producers for all legal fees they incurred in the arbitration process.
"The contract signed is an acreage production contract," the ACSA Arbitration Decision states in each of the documents regarding the four suits. "Customs and practices of the cotton trade and market, dating back to the 19th century, recognize that estimates of production in this type of contract are only estimates and do not qualify as a delivery requirement under the contract."
The decision documents also noted that some of Venture's managers and Noble's employees did indeed understand the difference between a bale contract and an acreage contract.
Although the decision was great news for these producers, who have spent tens of thousands of dollars and countless hours fighting the allegations, Venture has until June 17 to appeal the ruling, which could drag out the dispute for quite some time.
"It is positive that they ruled in our favor, but it's not over by any means yet," James Harlan of Brownfield, one of the producers sued by Venture and cleared by ACSA, said. "I'm waiting to see what happens next, and if Venture appeals, it could be a year down the road before we have a final resolution."
Harlan said these disputes have "shed a lot of light" on the ACSA arbitration process.
"It's an inefficient, ineffective process, and it's costing us a lot of time, money and missed opportunities," he said. "What has helped us the most has been getting this story out there, whether that was producers on the radio, or meeting with their elected officials or with organizations like PCG who helped us come together and have an even more powerful voice."
An ACSA arbitration panel also made decisions last week on two other Venture cases involving Terry County producers, but was unable to award any legal fees because Venture/Noble did not file the cases with ACSA within the stipulated time requirements. Although those producers also have spent time and money to clear their name, they could have to sue in a civil court to recoup any of their fees.
"That points out one of the big problems and inconsistencies with the ACSA arbitration process," Harlan said. "ACSA essentially said that they shouldn't have even seen the case because it was out of their jurisdiction, so those guys went through the whole inefficient, ineffective process for two years, but because of a technicality, don't get their money back."
PCG Executive Vice President Steve Verett said that this ACSA arbitration panel obviously was objective in their approach to these cases, and ultimately saw what those being sued knew all along.
"These producers followed their contract to the letter and fulfilled their obligation, and we appreciate this ACSA panel for not only recognizing that, but also seeing the frivolity of these cases and ensuring that the producer did not have to suffer financially," Verett said.
Verett said that PCG will continue to follow other disputes currently in arbitration that have not yet reached the decision stage, and also the continued progress of those cases in which ACSA did not resolve financially.
Key Buyers to See U.S. Cotton's Advantages
Friday, May 31, 2013 From the National Cotton Council
Textile executives from nine Chinese mills and two Hong Kong mills will tour the U.S. Cotton Belt June 9-16 to get a close look at U.S. cotton production, processing and marketing and to meet with U.S. exporters. China is U.S. cotton's largest consumer, Hong Kong ranks 18th.
This and all COTTON USA Special Trade Missions seek to enhance trading ties between the U.S. cotton industry and key overseas textile manufacturing customers – with a goal of capturing additional market share for U.S. cotton.
Cotton Council International President John Burch, a Bakersfield, Calif., cooperative official, said these CCI-sponsored trade missions are vital because U.S. cotton has become highly reliant on healthy exports.
Pointing to USDA's May report, which sees exports accounting for 11.50 million bales of the projected 14-million bale 2013 U.S. cotton crop, he said, "it is imperative that we cultivate business relationships with these key overseas customers."
Burch noted that during the 2012-13 marketing year, which ends in August, the mills represented on this tour are expecting to collectively consume about 2.2 million bales of which about 990,000 (or 44 percent) will be U.S. cotton.
The 11 executives and a representative from China Textile News in Beijing will begin their tour in New York with a CCI briefing and an ICE Futures seminar. They will observe cotton research in North Carolina, tour the USDA cotton classing office in Bartlett, Tenn., and visit a farm in California's San Joaquin Valley. They also will meet with exporters in the four major Cotton Belt regions and with the following industry organizations: National Cotton Council, American Cotton Producers, Cotton Incorporated, American Cotton Shippers Association, Southern Cotton Growers Association, Texas Cotton Association, Plains Cotton Growers, Lubbock Cotton Exchange, AMCOT, Western Cotton Shippers Association, San Joaquin Valley Quality Cotton Growers Association and Supima.
Cotton Council International Celebrates
Cotton Days Across Asia
Friday, May 31, 2013 From Cotton Council International
Industry leadership, top brands and retailers, local celebrities and the media were all on hand as Cotton Council International (CCI) sponsored its annual Cotton Day celebrations throughout Asia. Consumer and trade events highlighted the fun, fashionable and sustainable elements of cotton, the world's favorite fiber. Initial media results indicated the events had tremendous consumer and trade outreach in Thailand, Japan, Taiwan and Korea.
More than 400 industry and media celebrated the fifth Cotton Day in Thailand. Her Excellency Kristie Anne Kenney, U.S. Ambassador to Thailand, headlined the event. This year's Cotton Day featured a fashion show of clothing made with U.S. cotton from 26 COTTON USA licensee retail brands. The event also marked the introduction of the "Cotton Ambassador" who will attend over 2,500 points of sale starting in June. The COTTON USA Thailand Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/COTTONUSA.Thailand, highlighted the Cotton Day events. CCI launched the Facebook page last year, and it now has over 8,200 active fans.
Cotton Day Japan celebrated a decade of recognizing celebrities for their commitment to cotton. This year Maki Horikita, a Japanese actress and the 2013 COTTON USA Ambassador, highlighted the events. CCI presented the COTTON USA award to Ryoko Yonekura, a Japanese actress and fashion model, and the family of Junichi Ishida, a Japanese actor and television personality. The COTTON USA Japan website (http://www.cottonusa.jp) showcased the Cotton Day events.
In Taiwan, Cotton Day featured a "Pure Cotton, Pure Fun" children's fashion show with COTTON USA licensee Les Enphants. Kingone, the 2013 COTTON USA Taiwan Ambassador, sang his cotton-inspired theme song. The actress and musician Fan Fan also joined the event, speaking to media about her love of cotton.
Finally, the COTTON USA Showcase in Korea featured a collaboration of pure cotton collections from famous designers Ko Tae Yong and Kwak Hyun Joo. The fashion show generated significant media coverage, and over 200 industry representatives attended the 12th Cotton Day in Korea.
In total, more than 1,000 industry representatives turned out for the events and the advertising value is expected to exceed $10 million, increasing COTTON USA Mark awareness and preference for 100 percent cotton products.