Letters Conveys Industry Appropriations Priorities

A NCC letter to Sens. Moran (R-KS) and Merkley (D-OR), the chairman and ranking members, respectively, of the Senate Appropriations Committee's Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies, transmitted the cotton industry’s request for FY16 funding for selected programs under the Subcommittee's jurisdiction. An identical letter was sent to leaders of the corresponding House subcommittee.

Published: April 2, 2015
Updated: April 2, 2015

March 27, 2015

The Honorable Jerry Moran, Chairman
Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies
U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations
U.S. Senate
Washington, DC 20510

The Honorable Jeff Merkley, Ranking Member
Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies
U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations
U.S. Senate
Washington, DC 20510

Re: FY 2016 Agriculture Appropriations

Dear Chairman Moran and Ranking Member Merkley:

This is to transmit the cotton industry's request for FY 2016 funding for selected programs under the jurisdiction of the Subcommittee. The National Cotton Council (NCC) appreciates your consideration of our request.

The NCC is the central organization of the United States cotton industry. Its members include producers, ginners, cottonseed processors and merchandizers, merchants, cooperatives, warehousers and textile manufacturers. A majority of the industry is concentrated in 17 cotton-producing states. The downstream manufacturers of cotton apparel and home furnishings are located in virtually every state. Farms and businesses directly involved in the production, distribution and processing of cotton employ almost 200,000 workers and produce direct business revenue of more than $27 billion. Annual cotton production is valued at more than $6 billion at the farm gate, the point at which the producer markets the crop. Accounting for the ripple effect of cotton through the broader economy, direct and indirect employment surpasses 420,000 workers with economic activity well in excess of $100 billion. In addition to the cotton fiber, cottonseed products are used for livestock feed, and cottonseed oil is used as an ingredient in food products as well as being a premium cooking oil.

The NCC welcomes the opportunity to provide the following recommendations and requests for FY 2016 appropriations for programs which make important contributions to our industry's ability to compete and prosper in a world market.


COTTON PESTS (APHIS):The National Cotton Council requests $11.52 million (level with the FY 2015 request, 7.4% less than FY 2014) for the APHIS Cotton Pests Account. This will allow APHIS to continue to provide coordination, technical assistance and funds for Boll Weevil Eradication and Pink Bollworm Eradication programs. Grower assessments provide the balance of program funds. As these programs near completion, the Federal funding becomes even more critical to ensure the complete eradication of these cotton pests for the benefit of those in post eradication maintenance. Additional details for the Boll Weevil Eradication Program and the Pink Bollworm Eradication Program are provided below:

Boll Weevil Eradication (APHIS – Cotton Pests): The NCC requests $8.1 million (level with the FY 2015 request, 2% below the FY 2014 request) for APHIS to provide Federal support to the National Buffer Zone in the Lower Rio Grande Valley (LRGV) in Texas, the last "frontier" for Boll Weevil Eradication efforts since 97% of the U.S. cotton acreage is now free of boll weevils. This zone is also the only remaining active eradication zone in the U.S. APHIS funds are only provided to this active eradication zone in keeping with a commitment that producer assessments provide 100% of the cost of maintenance programs once an area or region is declared "weevil free." The program continues to produce documented economic and environmental benefits. Cotton in the United States is now produced with an average of less than three annual applications of pesticides per acre for all insects. This compares to the 15 to 20 applications per acre prior to boll weevil eradication and adoption of cotton varieties containing Bt technology for worm control.

Continuation of Federal funding is critical as the program strives to complete eradication in the LRGV of Texas. The NCC recognizes that the movement of weevils from Tamaulipas, Mexico, into the LRGV has prolonged the eradication efforts of the U.S. However, the eradication efforts in the LRGV continue to make progress and the area also serves as the National Buffer, protecting the remainder of the U.S. cotton acreage from re-infestation of the boll weevil. The NCC's Boll Weevil Action Committee has created the International Technical Advisory Committee to share and coordinate technical procedures with the Tamaulipas, Mexico program in an effort to enhance their eradication progress thereby ending this weevil migration. In addition, the NCC is cooperating with APHIS in developing another liaison committee to include Mexico program officials to identify additional resources and technical assistance required by the Tamaulipas program.

We also respectfully request that APHIS be directed to make every effort to minimize overhead and administrative expenses for boll weevil eradication to ensure field operations are funded to the fullest extent possible.

Boll Weevil and Pink Bollworm Eradication (FSA) – The NCC requests sufficient funding to allow FSA to make up to $60 million in loans to eligible producer-controlled organizations carrying out Boll Weevil and Pink Bollworm eradication programs. This authority has existed since FY2005 and has been critically important to the success of the programs. There has not been a forfeiture on any loan made by FSA for the purpose of carrying out Boll Weevil and Pink Bollworm eradication efforts.

Pink Bollworm Programs (APHIS – Cotton Pests): The NCC requests $3.42 million (level with the FY 2015 request, 23% less than the FY 2014 request) be provided toAPHIS to continue support for the pink bollworm program. The Pink Bollworm Eradication Program is based predominantly on the mass release of sterile insects generated by a Phoenix, AZ rearing facility.

The funds requested for FY 2016 will enable the Pink Bollworm Rearing Facility (PBRF) in Phoenix, AZ, to maintain a colony of pink bollworm moths with the capability to provide sterile moths for release if a wild moth is captured. The PBRF is a partnership between the California growers and APHIS. The cost share for pink bollworm is essential to provide APHIS' expertise and operational coordination in mass rearing and area-wide aerial releases of millions of sterile moths.

The pink bollworm program did not document the capture of any native pink bollworm moths in 2013 for the U. S., which allowed the program to begin a three year confirmation phase in 2014. There was no documented capture of any native pink bollworm moths in 2014. The density of monitoring traps remained high for the 2014 year in order to verify that no native populations are present. The trapping density will gradually decline over the next two years before eradication is confirmed. A response plan has been developed by technical experts to respond to localized areas as needed if a native capture is documented during this confirmation phase.

Growers contribute funds through assessments and incur significant expense associated with purchasing and planting biotech seeds during the active eradication period.

MARKET ACCESS PROGRAM (MAP) - The NCC strongly supports the funding level in the Agricultural Act of 2014 of $200 million.Cotton Council International (CCI), the foreign market development arm of the NCC, has the critical mission of maintaining and expanding exports of US cotton and cotton products in Asia, Europe, Africa, and Central and South America. The value of U.S. cotton fiber exports exceeds $5 billion, and exports of value-added cotton products contribute an additional $3 billion to the overall value of cotton exports. Activities carried out using MAP and Foreign Market Development (FMD) funds have been documented as contributing to increased export sales of cotton fiber and value-added manufactured cotton products. Independent studies reveal that for every dollar spent by USDA cooperators, including CCI, U.S. exports increase $35, a 35-to-1 return on investment. For the cotton industry, this represents over one billion dollars in export value or an additional 7,000 jobs to the U.S. economy. The cotton industry believes CCI's programs are an effective catalyst for private sector investments, with the industry investing $2.02 for every dollar of MAP funds received.

FOREIGN AGRICULTURAL SERVICE (FAS) -The industry supports sufficient funding to ensure FAS is adequately staffed to carry out important market development and trade enhancing functions in headquarters and abroad. The industry supports the Presidential initiative to streamline and make U.S. export programs more effective. We believe FAS's market research and market development assistance combined with the MAP and FMD programs serve as a model for successful public-private partnerships. We believe it is important that U.S. agriculture continue to have an agency like FAS with close links to domestic USDA programs to promote U.S. exports, collect market data, assist exporters, remedy trade disputes and assist in the development of trade policy.

FOREIGN MARKET DEVELOPMENT (FMD) - The FMD program is used to encourage and support U.S. commodity groups to undertake long-term market development and trade servicing. These funds are used for programs with detailed market assessments, strategic program development and ongoing evaluations. These funds create unique market development and trade servicing value and, like the MAP funds, are closely monitored by USDA for compliance with U.S. laws. FMD is currently funded at $34.5 million and requires at least a dollar-for-dollar industry match. The industry requests that funding for FMD be continued at the level authorized in the Agricultural Act of 2014.The cotton industry believes CCI's programs are an effective catalyst for private sector investments with industry investments totaling $1.31 for every dollar of FMD funds received.

FARM SERVICE AGENCY (FSA) – TheNCC supports adequate funding so that FSA can continue to deliver essential farm and conservation programs and services.

RISK MANAGEMENT AGENCY (RMA) – TheNCC supports adequate funding so that RMA can continue to administer essential insurance products.

NATIONAL AGRICULTURAL STATISTICS SERVICE (NASS) AND ECONOMIC RESEARCH SERVICE (ERS) – The NCC supports adequate funding so that NASS and ERS can continue to provide comprehensive and unbiased statistical and economic data that is critical to the agricultural industry.

AGRICULTURAL RESEARCH SERVICE (ARS) – The cotton industry continues to be concerned with the financial support of this important intramural research agency. ARS programs and facilities conduct vital research programs in fiber quality, production agronomic systems and textiles that ultimately support U.S. cotton production and post-harvest processing as well as the U.S. textile industry's efforts to remain competitive in global markets. We urge the Committee to instruct USDA not to close any facilities or discontinue any projects without first consulting with industry stakeholders. We also strongly encourage the Committee to urge ARS to continue to provide sufficient funding for research conducted at the cotton ginning laboratories in Stoneville, MS; Las Cruces, NM; and, Lubbock, TX. The gin labs have recently completed an ambitious program that has accurately measured the particulate matter air emissions from cotton gins. This data has been used by some states in the permitting of cotton gins and will assist our industry in addressing EPA's Particulate Matter Standards and future air quality issues. The three gin labs are critically important to ginners, and to cotton growers, as they help our industry develop the most energy efficient handling and ginning systems and conduct research that assists our industry in increasing cotton fiber quality. We request that the Committee urge ARS to maintain funding for the research units managing cotton programs conducted at the Southern Regional Research Center in New Orleans, LA, and the various cotton breeding programs including support for the Cotton Germplasm Collection managed by the Southern Plains Crop Germplasm Unit housed at the Southern Plains Agricultural Research Center in College Station, TX.

We agree with the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) December 2012 report, "Agricultural Preparedness and the Agricultural Research Enterprise," that significant additional funding for agricultural research is warranted for maintaining a viable U.S. industry. However, we differ with the report's emphasis on increasing competitive funding of research. We continue to urge a balanced approach among intramural, competitive and formula funding in order to maintain an effective research infrastructure while encouraging innovative research at the highest levels. For ARS to continue its part in this research enterprise, additional funding is needed. We urge the Committee to provide the agency with additional funding as soon as economic conditions allow the Committee to respond to the PCAST report's funding level recommendations.

Thank you for your consideration of our recommendations and of our funding requests for FY 2016.


Reece Langley
Vice President – Washington Operations