Attendees at the Beltwide Cotton Conferences last month in Orlando, Fla., were told to prepare for a lengthy process as debate begins on the new Farm Bill in the middle of a presidential and congressional election year.
National Cotton Council senior vice president John Maguire told attendees to expect the regular procedure involving hearings, committee markups and floor debates. He also reiterated that because of the Super Committee’s failure to achieve a budget-reduction package in November, U.S. agriculture missed an opportunity to lock in a $23 billion ag reduction package.
Had the package been approved, farmers would have had a choice of several programs that fit their regions before the current law expires. The overall plan, which met budget targets, also included input from the cotton industry.
Maguire added that because of the elections it is possible a new farm law might not be adopted until late 2012 during a lameduck session of Congress or even early 2013.
He also reminded the audience that the NCC will continue to work with Congress to communicate cotton’s Farm Bill priorities during the year.
Mike Quinn Offers Forecast
Mike Quinn, chief executive officer of Carolina Cotton Growers Cooperative, says the basic fundamentals for U.S. cotton should remain the same in 2012. He did say that ending stocks could increase by 12 percent, but uncertainty remains on where the market will go.
He also cautioned that the debt crisis in Europe would have to be resolved and defaults avoided – otherwise there could be a serious impact on the global economy.
Quinn also pointed to China’s decision to build its cotton reserves as a significant trend – especially if it results in 15 to 18 million bales of cotton being taken from the world supply.
Weather Problems Affect Crop
Florida Extension cotton specialist David Wright told attendees that U.S. cotton lost about five million bales of production in 2011 because of weather-related problems – most notably in Texas and the Southwest.
However, because of good yields in California, the Mid-South and South-east, the Belt’s overall yield average was surprisingly more than 770 pounds per acre.
Continuation Of La Niña?
Florida State University climatologist David Zierden predicted a continuation of dry conditions through winter and into spring due to the presence of another La Niña weather pattern.
However, he says that drought conditions may not be as severe as 2011. But he says all research points toward drought in the Southwest and continued dry conditions from the Southeast to Louisiana and into Texas, New Mexico and Oklahoma.
He offered one potential way for farmers to deal with this weather trend – plant earlier in the spring. Zierden says it doesn’t always work, but it improves the odds in the long run.
Rathore Wins Genetics Award
Dr. Keerti Rathore, a Texas A&M University associate professor and researcher, is the recipient of the 2011 Cotton Genetics Research Award. In recognition, he received a plaque and a monetary award.
Since 2003, Dr. Rathore has worked as an associate professor in A&M’s Soil and Crop Sciences Department and its Institute for Plant Genomics and Biotechnology. He also has served as director of the Institute’s Laboratory for Crop Transformation since 1997.
Evidence of Rathore’s depth and breadth of knowledge in molecular biology and its application to cotton is highlighted by his 26 peer-reviewed journal articles, 11 book chapter contributions and three granted patents.
Rathore’s research also has flourished in the areas of resistance to fungal pathogens and drought resistance. Before joining A&M, he worked as a postdoctoral research associate and a research scientist at Purdue University for 10 years.
Cotton – Not The Enemy!
Popular athletic apparel brand Under Armour made an about-face last year when it announced the addition of a new line of performance apparel using a natural fiber – cotton.
The apparel line called “Charged Cotton” includes t-shirts and shorts for men and women and represents a huge step forward for cotton’s viability in the synthetic-dominated athletic apparel category.
A recent Forbes blog acknowledged the contribution of Cotton Incorporated to create “Charged Cotton.”
Speaking about the collaboration, Cotton Incorporated president and chief executive officer Berrye Worsham said: “Several years ago when we heard the line ‘Cotton Is The Enemy,’ it didn’t make us angry. It did make us more determined to make cotton products better (for athletic apparel). Cotton Incorporated has been thrilled to work with Under Armour to help bring ‘Charged Cotton’ to consumers.”
A recent Cotton Incorporated survey revealed that when consumers were asked whether they would purchase cotton sports apparel that offered the same performance features as Under Armour, almost all of them (97 percent) said they would prefer a cotton alternative or would be willing to try it.
A special Cotton Board/Cotton Incorporated press conference at the Beltwide attracted a large media contingent who were able to view the “Charged Cotton” shirts.
Vision 21 Project Rolls On
Representatives of the National Cotton Council, Cotton Incorporated and Cotton Council International hosted a media breakfast and gave an update on the completion of a comprehensive life cycle inventory and life cycle analysis of cotton products.
The endeavor is part of the Cotton Foundation Vision 21 Project. The two-year study, managed by PE Inter-national, was designed to establish current and accurate benchmarks of potential environmental impacts across the global cotton supply chain.
The peer-reviewed data and assessment methodology will help direct sustainability for the cotton industry, as well as aid textile decision-makers in achieving their own specific sustainability goals.
The Life Cycle Analysis is a cotton-centric, meaning it does not compare the environmental impact of cotton to competitive analysis.
“The cotton LCA is about measurement, not marketing,” says Berrye Worsham, Cotton Incorporated president and CEO. “As such, the LCA’s companion iReport tool will help textile industry decision-makers understand how cotton’s environmental gainscan fit into their own individual sustainable goals.”
Barber Wins Specialist Award
Tom Barber, associate professor and Extension cotton agronomist with the University of Arkansas, has been recognized by his peers from across the Cotton Belt as the 2012 Extension Cotton Specialist of the Year, a prestigious award sponsored by Bayer CropScience since 2008.
Barber received the award at the Extension Cotton Specialist annual dinner banquet.
The annual award and banquet has been a featured event at the Beltwide Cotton Conferences since 1984. Extension cotton specialists representing every cotton-producing state select a winner annually based on leadership and industry service.
Barber has been with the University of Arkansas since 2007. He received his bachelor’s degree in agronomy from the University of Arkansas, his master’s degree in weed science from the University of Arkansas and his Ph.D. in weed science from Mississippi State University.
His current responsibilities include education programs in cotton production and agronomic systems that improve yield and profitability. Educational programs focus on new technologies, cotton variety selection,in-season crop management, irrigation and defoliation.
Leonard Receives Special Award
Dr. Rogers Leonard of Louisiana State University is the recipient of the Excellence in Cotton Integrated Pest Management Award.
The award is sponsored by Dow AgroSciences and recognizes the career contributions of an individual to applied arthropod integrated pest management across the Belt, excelling in industry, research, Extension or educational programs.