On August 3-4, the National Cotton Council's American Cotton Producers (ACP) held a meeting in Little Rock. The meeting was led by current ACP Chairman Nathan Reed. The meeting allowed producers from across the cotton belt to share their experiences in the 2022 crop year and to discuss and develop policies on common issues. Keynote speakers included Sen. John Boozman (R-AR), ranking member of the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition & Forestry Committee; Richard Flournoy, deputy administrator, Risk Management Agency (RMA); Harrison Pittman, director, National Ag Law Center; Dr. Greg Holt, research leader, USDA-AMS Cotton Production and Processing; and Mark Martens with Agri Placements Institute.
ACP Meeting Addresses Multiple Issues
The American Cotton Producers (ACP), chaired by Nathan Reed of Arkansas, held its summer meeting in Little Rock, AR. Keynote speakers included Sen. John Boozman (R-AR), ranking member of the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition & Forestry Committee; Richard Flournoy, deputy administrator, Risk Management Agency (RMA); Harrison Pittman, director, National Ag Law Center; Dr. Greg Holt, research leader, USDA-AMS Cotton Production and Processing; and Mark Martens with Agri Placements Institute.
Sen. Boozman updated the ACP on the budget reconciliation package making its way through the Senate and its potential impact on Conservation, Energy and Forestry Title funding for the 2023 farm bill. He also provided an overview of the hearing process and timeline for 2023 farm bill consideration.
Flournoy outlined the recent climate initiatives that have been rolled out by RMA and provided an update of the Emergency Relief Program (ERP). U.S. cotton producers have received $645 million in assistance through Phase One of ERP with additional payments for 2021 STAX/SCO/ECO expected later this month.
Pittman briefed the ACP on the new EPA policy on Endangered Species Act (ESA) consultation with the stated goal to provide certainty to producers and the agricultural industry while avoiding costly litigation from environmental and food safety activist groups. In registering or re-registering pesticides, EPA will review information to determine if the active ingredient may affect certain species listed under the ESA or their “critical habitats.” He also summarized the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) preemption cases on state law failure to warn claims. Recent appellate decisions in the 9th Circuit (Hardeman v. Monsanto Co.) and the 11th Circuit ruled (Carson v. Monsanto) ruled that FIFRA does not preempt the registrant from failing to warn about health risks despite EPA confirming the safety of the product. The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to take up these cases.
Dr. Holt reviewed the 2021 classing calls by plastic color while providing an overview of the new industry-driven module wrap performance standard. The new standard's objective is to specify minimum material strength and performance levels for module wrap entering the market.
Martens summarized the H-2A program and the employer obligations for H-2A participants. He also discussed the most common violations that the Department of Labor finds in investigations and how penalties can be avoided in the current enforcement environment.
NCC Chairman Ted Schneider provided an update on NCC priority issues which included the numerous challenges related to drought and water availability, increasing costs of inputs, unprecedented supply chain and labor issues, as well as regulatory pressure on crop protection products and registrations. He also encouraged producer participation in the U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol® for improving cotton marketability and meeting U.S. cotton customers’ sustainability requirements.
Darryl Earnest and Gretchen Deatherage, USDA-AMS Cotton and Tobacco Program, discussed the importance of producer nominations for the Universal Cotton Standards conference planned for June 2023 in Memphis and updated the ACP on the labor and supply chain challenges facing the cotton classing laboratories.
The meeting also included an economic update from NCC President/CEO Gary Adams and a Washington update from Senior Government Affairs Manager Robbie Minnich. NCC Vice President of Producer Affairs Tas Smith updated attendees on the May 2022 Congressional Budget Office baseline for farm bill spending and program options being discussed by the House and Senate agriculture committees. Minnich and Smith also provided a preview of the critical Cotton Belt Congressional races in the 2022 mid-term elections along with an overview of the Committee For the Advancement of Cotton (CAC) Steering Committee fundraising efforts.
Cotton Foundation Chairman Jon Whatley of Texas convened a short business session which included nominations and elections of 2023 Foundation trustees.
Foundation Trustees Approve Research Projects
The Cotton Foundation held its annual membership meeting in Little Rock, AR, immediately followed by the Foundation Board of Trustees meeting.
In the meeting, Foundation trustees for the 2022-23 fiscal year were elected. Those include producers: Jon Whatley, Odem, TX; Dean Calvani, Carlsbad, NM; Sam Whitaker, Monticello, AR; Philip Edwards, III, Smithfield, VA; and David Light, Rolla, KS, and allied industry members: Jennifer Crumpler, Bayer; Macie O’Shaughnessy, Syngenta; Matt Rekeweg, Corteva AgriSciences; Travis Becton, John Deere; Andrew Conner, BASF; Eric Castner, FMC; Kelly Fenner, Seal Transportation; Jeffrey Smith, Valent; and Russell Sutton, Lummus. Independent Consultant Association trustees include Rogers Leonard, St. Joseph, LA; Hank Jones, Winnsboro, LA; Wes Briggs, Bainbridge, GA; and Jack Royal, Leary, GA.
Foundation trustees elected officers for 2022-23. Whatley was elected Foundation chairman and Calvani, president. Other elected officers are Gary Adams, executive vice president; Don Parker, executive director/secretary; Matt Rekeweg, treasurer; and Drew Davis, assistant treasurer. Neal Isbell, outgoing Foundation chairman, was recognized for his five years of service and leadership.
The trustees also approved funding for 12 general research projects totaling $270,500 for 2022-23. Included are studies related to a new invasive insect (cotton seed bug), sustainability, regulatory issue information gathering, plant protection products re-registration, risk data updating and education efforts.