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- Cotton's Agenda -

Setting A New Standard


By Mark Lange
NCC President/CEO

Timely delivery of a wide range of growths is one of U.S. cotton's primary competitive advantages in the world marketplace. Raising, not maintaining, that standard is crucial – as nearly 80 percent of U.S. raw cotton now is being exported.

Why the emphasis on cotton flow?

Today, the U.S. cotton industry is in a position to provide identity-preserved bale information and get a wide range of growths delivered to its customers in a timely manner. Exporting exerts more pressure on warehouses because large quantities of raw cotton often are required in a short period of time. However, the industry cannot afford to experience delays in getting our fiber to overseas markets. Through its study of the cotton flow chain and its recommendations, the National Cotton Council’s Performance and Standards Task Force already is putting our industry in a better position to highlight our cotton flow strengths and address our weaknesses.

What specific steps are being taken to improve cotton flow?

The NCC established the Performance and Standards Task Force early in 2006. Since then, that working group has been reviewing cotton handling practices and proposing voluntary guidelines to improve cotton flow. One of the task force’s initial recommendations called for weekly warehouse flow reports and the establishment of a warehouse scheduling tool. That tool makes relevant flow information available to all users while still protecting all parties’ privacy. The task force is working closely with NCC staff to examine actual material and document flows because an understanding of those two factors must be considered when evaluating the infrastructure required to service an export-dominated market.

How important is weekly reporting?

The 2007 weekly warehouse flow reports are among the field-to-fabric materials that are being analyzed to help improve cotton flow. The Cotton Storage Agreement (CSA) requires all warehouses with CSAs to file weekly “Bales Made Available for Shipment” reports by close of business each Monday. The first failure to submit a weekly report results in a telephone call from USDA to the non-reporting warehouse (or first strike). A second failure results in a letter of reprimand (the second strike). Failure to submit three weekly reports within a 12-month period results in the removal of a non-reporting warehouse from the CCC List of Approved Warehouses (third strike).

To be reinstated to the CCC list, a warehouse operator must submit all missing cotton flow reports and pay a reinstatement fee equal to the annual contract fee. Throughout 2007, a majority of warehouses filed weekly reports. Only one of the 14 that did not was not reinstated. The NCC continues to post the number of warehouses, by state, that did not file. This important data can be found at www.cotton.org/tech/flow/whsnotrept.cfm. The NCC also will keep working with USDA to attain 100 percent weekly reporting.

Mark Lange is president and chief executive officer for the National Cotton Council of America. He and other NCC leaders contribute columns on this page.


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