NCC Opposes Administration’s Step 2 Cotton Program Proposal

The NCC opposes the Bush Administration’s plan proposing statutory changes in the Step 2 cotton program to comply with a WTO dispute decision. The NCC distributed <a href=/issues/members/2005/step2letter.cfm >a letter</a> to the House and Senate ag committees and Cotton Belt Congressional members on USDA's proposal on the U.S. Cotton and Export Credit Guarantee Programs.

July 6, 2005
Contact: Marjory Walker
(901) 274-9030

MEMPHIS – The National Cotton Council (NCC) today opposed the Bush Administration’s plan proposing statutory changes in the Step 2 cotton program to comply with a recent WTO dispute decision.

The proposed statutory changes, announced yesterday by USDA, would eliminate the Step 2 program. Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns said, "By implementing these proposed changes, we are being fully responsive to the WTO decision.” He said this step is essential for the United States “to continue to be a leader in the WTO Doha negotiations, which are crucial to U.S. market access and the long-term prosperity of U.S. farmers and ranchers.”

NCC Chairman Woods Eastland today indicated that the NCC opposed the immediate elimination of cotton’s Step 2 program as proposed in legislation submitted to Congress by the Department of Agriculture.

“The approach suggested by the legislation would change the terms and conditions of the cotton program in the middle of the marketing season – something the National Cotton Council has always opposed,” Eastland said. “Sales of the 2005 crop have already begun in earnest. Cotton will begin to be harvested across the Cotton Belt well before this legislation is even considered by Congress. The approach suggested by the Administration would alter a fundamental piece of the sales and marketing structure for cotton in the United States in mid-stream, harming many U.S. cotton merchants and textile manufacturers.”

Eastland urged that “Congress review options in this matter that are short of the immediate elimination of the Step 2 program. We further urge Congress to insist that it receive clear indications of Brazil’s intentions before making drastic changes to a U.S. commodity program. The National Cotton Council will continue to work with Congress and the Administration to construct a fair and appropriate response to this decision.”