The National Cotton Council (NCC) held its Annual Meeting via Zoom throughout the months of January and February. Senator John Boozman of Arkansas who is now serving as the Vice Chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee provided the keynote speech at the convention ceremony held February 11th. Included below are few information links from the meeting as well as a meeting summary.
Virtual NCC Annual Meeting Held
NCC Chairman Kent Fountain, who was re-elected along with NCC Vice Chairman Ted Schneider for 2021, told those participating in the NCC's first ever virtual annual meeting that the NCC will remain proactive on a number of initiatives "aimed at elevating our commodity's global reputation." Included are urging industry leaders to make lint contamination prevention a priority in their operations and ensuring that the industry's position as a fast/reliable supplier of quality fiber is not compromised.
During the Zoom meeting's general session, Fountain said that because the economic impacts of the pandemic are still being felt throughout the industry, the NCC will continue engaging with the Administration and Congress on the importance of delivering COVID economic assistance.
Another effort Fountain believes that will significantly improve U.S. cotton's marketability is the new U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol -- and he urged U.S. cotton producers to participate in this sustainability initiative. "The ultimate benefit that will be gained through this program is that manufacturers, major brands and retailers will accept that U.S. cotton is responsibly produced and that we are working continuously to shrink our environmental footprint," he stated.
The NCC chairman closed by urging industry members and their employees to get COVID vaccinations at the earliest opportunity. He said to a large extent normalcy will be predicated on the country's ability to control the coronavirus."
Fountain's report also included the showing of a video of NCC's key 2020 activities. NCC members can access that video and activity details in the NCC's 2021 Report to Members at www.cotton.org/about/report/2021/index.cfm. The NCC's U.S. cotton's leaders for 2021 are at www.cotton.org/news/meetings/2021annual/index.cfm.
The annual meeting's keynote speaker, Sen. John Boozman (R-AR), ranking member of the Agriculture, Nutrition & Forestry Committee, told participants that trade will continue to be very important to agriculture this year after the pandemic affected the supply chain and overall economy. He said markets need to be protected and hopes China will live up to their purchase agreement commitments. He noted that an extension of the WHIP+ program to cover 2020 crop losses will be very important for producers this year.
Sen. Boozman, who also serves on the Appropriations and Environment and Public Works Committees, said he was concerned about environmental regulation under the new administration and how it might affect farmers. He said that not only do Democrats and Republicans need to work together on climate and other environmental-related issues, but agriculture needs to stand together as it faces challenges in these and other policy areas during the coming year.
Dr. Jody Campiche, the NCC's vice president, Economics & Policy Analysis, said the first half of 2020 was marked by the pandemic-caused unprecedented disruptions in the supply chains and markets for the U.S. and world cotton and textile industries. She said in the early weeks of 2021 the pandemic still is creating disruptions in parts of the world, but the overall economy is recovering at a much faster pace than originally expected. She noted, though, that "current economic projections for the U.S. and global economies should be viewed with caution given the lack of clarity regarding the potential impacts of the ongoing pandemic. The distribution of vaccines has created optimism for world economic conditions, yet some uncertainty is still present due to increased infections and new virus strains in some parts of the world along with renewed restrictions."
Although global stocks remain high, Campiche said a tighter U.S. balance sheet, low supply chain inventories, increased purchases from China, speculative money flow, weaker U.S. dollar, higher grain and oilseed prices, and post-COVID demand expectations are contributing to bullish sentiment for cotton prices. However, additional restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic, large stocks outside of China, and low man-made fiber prices could put downward pressure on cotton prices in 2021.
In her planting intentions survey analysis, Campiche said U.S. cotton producers intend to plant 11.5 million cotton acres in 2021, down 5.2% from 2020. Upland cotton intentions are 11.3 million acres, down 4.9% from 2020, while extra-long staple (ELS) intentions of 161,000 acres represent a 20.7% decline. The expected drop in acreage is primarily the result of strong competing crop prices.
She said that with abandonment assumed at 18.1% for the United States, Cotton Belt harvested area totals 9.4 million acres. Using an average U.S. yield per harvested acre of 855 pounds generates a cotton crop of 16.7 million bales, with 16.3 million upland bales and 431,000 ELS bales. Details are at www.cotton.org/news/meetings/2021annual/pint.cfm and in the table below.
Additional details of the NCC's 2021 Cotton Economic Outlook are on the NCC's website at www.cotton.org/econ/reports/annual-outlook.cfm. A YouTube video of Campiche's presentation is available at https://youtu.be/Cl_B1Bzsl5sat.
Trust Protocol Enrollment Help Available
U.S. cotton producers who have not begun or completed their enrollment in the U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol are encouraged to do so now. Growers may get guidance and questions answered via a new help desk by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Solid U.S. cotton producer participation in this sustainability initiative will elevate U.S. cotton's reputation in the global marketplace while enabling apparel brands/retailers to confidently source this nation's fiber.
Producer participants will measure their sustainability progress against six metrics including land use, soil carbon, water management, soil loss, greenhouse gas emissions and energy efficiency. Producers can get more information and enroll at https://trustuscotton.org. In addition, a producer enrollment tutorial is available at www.youtube.com/watch?v=AcbwQfHx3B8&t=90s.