U.S. Government Agencies Back to Work;

Cold, Damp Weather Slows Harvest Activity

Friday, October 18, 2013                       By Mary Jane Buerkle

      A smorgasbord of issues and opportunities has surrounded the cotton industry over the past week, and although the government shutdown may be over and key agencies such as the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Farm Service Agency, and the Risk Management Agency are fully back at work, the industry still faces the continued suspension of the commodity loan program and continued uncertainty regarding the Farm Bill.

      USDA reports are scheduled to resume over the next week, but they will not re-issue reports such as the World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates, which was scheduled for release on October 11. The next WASDE report will be posted on November 8, along with the Crop Production and Cotton Ginnings reports.

      The Farm Service Agency suspended the Commodity Loan program due to sequestration earlier this month. The suspension was originally thought to last only until mid-October, but a date had not yet been set at press time to resume the program.

      As for the Farm Bill, the House and the Senate both have named their conferees, marking a clear path for completion. However, the road certainly will still be rocky as Congressional leaders work toward enacting new farm policy. U.S. Rep. Randy Neugebauer and U.S. Rep. Mike Conaway both were named to the conference committee.

      On the home front, several areas of the South Plains benefited from rainfall over the past week. For the most part, the rain fell softly and slowly, and producers at least were able to avoid storms that could have had a significant impact on the crop, but the cool, damp weather has caused some harvest delays. However, with temperatures forecasted to be in the mid-60s and lower 70s over the next few days, harvest activity is expected to increase significantly.



Australia & The United States:

Pioneers & Partners In Progress

Friday, October 18, 2013                     From The Cotton Board

Cotton Australia and Cotton Incorporated today announced a joint program to raise awareness of the responsible growing practices among cotton producers in Australia and the United States.  Called Cotton LEADSĒ, the program is aimed at textile brands, retailers and manufacturers committed to sourcing cotton that is grown in a responsible and transparent manner.  Validating the Cotton LEADS program are the national-level oversight, regulatory enforcement, and transparency of practices common to both countries. Combined, Australia and the United States account for roughly 17% of global cotton production.  More information can be found at www.cottonleads.org.

"Cotton LEADS is designed to assist businesses along the cotton supply chain with their sustainability goals," says Berrye Worsham, president and CEO of Cotton Incorporated.  "Apparel brands, retailers, and manufacturers require large volumes and a reliable supply of responsibly-produced fiber, as well as proof of responsible production. Through Cotton LEADS we demonstrate how cotton grown in the United States and Australia can help meet these requirements," adds Worsham.

"Cotton producers in Australia and the U.S. pioneered practices that have resulted in impressive, country-wide environmental gains," explains Adam Kay, CEO of Cotton Australia.  "Both countries approach improvement on a national level. This includes national reporting and regulatory enforcement, but also facilitates the national implementation of best practices and the ability to collect data on a national level," adds Kay.

The national focus of Cotton LEADS differs from the range of farm-by-farm certification programs that have emerged in recent years, and which the International Cotton Advisory Committee has termed "identity cottons," but the goals are parallel.  "Cotton LEADS members are committed to providing the supply chain with greater volumes of responsibly-grown cotton, to ongoing improvement, and to the transparency of processes and metrics."

The Cotton LEADSĒ program is founded on five core principles:

COMMITMENT to the social, environmental, economic, and regulatory factors to produce world-class cotton.

RECOGNITION that sustainable and responsible cotton production requires continual improvement, investment, research, and sharing of best practices information among growers and industry.

UNDERSTANDING that leading change in a responsible and sustainable cotton practices will have the most positive impact when implemented in collaboration with farm, regional, national and international programs.

BELIEF in the benefit of working cooperatively with similar programs that seek to advance responsible and sustainable cotton production in an effort to keep global cotton competitive in world fiber markets.

CONFIDENCE in a cotton identification system that ensures traceability from farm to manufacturer.

The National Cotton Council of America and its export promotion program Cotton Council International join Cotton Australia and Cotton Incorporated as founding members.  Kevin Latner, Executive Director of Cotton Council International states, "Users of Australian and U.S. cotton can take confidence in these core principles, which are built upon a track record of responsible production practices and a commitment to continuing improvement."

Cotton LEADS currently has two member nations, Australia and the United States. A committee comprised of three members from each member nation, and two members from partnering industry organizations, will guide activities and the use of program funds.