Can the U.S. cotton industry deal with all of its major challenges in 2010?
College Station, Texas
All of the industry’s concerns can’t be ignored. They are serious challenges, but somehow cotton has always risen to the occasion in its history. I can remember when the boll weevil was a serious problem, but we dealt with it. We’ve met the technical challenges along with the regulatory and political challenges in previous years. If ever there was a time to unite behind the National Cotton Council, now is the time. Our voices simply must be heard in Washington to get the best cotton policy.
I think it’s encouraging that we have some optimism in the industry right now. Most of that optimism is being caused by better prices for cotton lint. I think we can definitely thrive in this unstable market. It seems like there is always something that is causing pressure on cotton – a drought, untimely rain or a big issue of some kind. But, we always bounce back, and that’s what is happening now.
We’re very optimistic here in California about cotton acreage and with how we’ll deal with the industry’s problems in 2010. Our Pima prices have come up, and I’m detecting some very positive attitudes in this state about cotton. I think some of the luster has come off of these alternative crops, and farmers are returning to a crop that has been good to them in the past. It’s been awhile since I’ve seen that happen. As for dealing with important issues confronting the industry, it all comes down to ag organizations and how they stick together. That’s how we’ve won our battles in the past.
Cotton does have a lot of issues on its plate for 2010, but it seems like it’s that way every year. The big question for producers is how we make those important cropping decisions in order to maximize our profitability. It’s certainly encouraging to see cotton prices improve, but we need to see how prices look at planting time and weigh those against other commodity prices. As the new chairman of the Cotton Board, I’m also excited about how we’ll continue to support the research and promotion activities of Cotton Incorporated.
The crop here in West Tennessee had a tough time last year, but, overall, cotton farmers believe they can deal with their problems this year and have better yields. The price is very encouraging right now, but we know we have plenty of obstacles on the turnrow like dealing with resistant pigweed. It’s been a few years since I have seen this much optimism, but this is another case of the cotton industry being very resilient.