From the Cotton Grower 2015 Annual
BY HARRISON ASHLEY
Throughout 2015, the National Cotton Ginners Association (NCGA) was active on a number of educational, regulatory and promotional matters.
One initiative was a direct result of NCGA President Dwayne Alford’s involvement in a NCC Leadership Exchange Program in China in 2014. This led to a NCGA recommendation adopted by the National Cotton Council (NCC).
As a result, the NCC’s export promotions arm (Cotton Council International) granted several bagging manufacturers licenses to imprint its logo – which includes USA in its design – on packaging materials for U.S. bales during the 2015/16 cotton ginning season. Many U.S. ginners participated in this voluntary program.
Chinese government officials also informed NCC and CCI staff that they intend to apply a revised domestic bale packaging standard to all cotton fiber imports. The intent is to reduce contamination in cotton fiber, not to exclude specific bagging materials. This standard is a concern, though, because it is not clear how the Chinese government agency charged with enforcement will interpret the standard.
The NCC will continue to work with the various Chinese agencies to educate them about our industry’s stringent testing and approval process for U.S. bale packaging materials.
Regarding contamination, the NCGA and the NCC both strived to maintain U.S. cotton’s reputation of being among the cleanest cottons in the world.
Prior to the 2015 harvest, the NCC communicated with producer leaders, ginners, warehousers, cotton interest organization leaders and cotton Extension specialists, urging the elimination of plastic and other potential contaminants.
A special flyer that listed contamination prevention steps was included with that memo. Ginners distributed the flyer to their producer customers and stepped up efforts to make their gin employees aware of their unique contamination prevention responsibilities.
In fact, gin employees have been trained on proper round module wrap removal (a potential contamination source), as gins continue to purchase equipment and make modifications to process these modules. The training was supported by a NCGA-produced round module handling and safety video.
Also, because round modules can be transported using flatbed trailers, the NCGA developed guidelines for the proper loading and securing of these modules while being transported from the farm to the gin.
Ginners will be dealing with new and updated regulations in the year ahead. The NCGA has submitted a number of comments to OSHA and EPA on those agencies’ various proposed rules, and is closely monitoring a number of air quality concerns that include the implementation of EPA regulations.
Industry-funded research also is helping to determine accurate emissions data, and that information is being used by some states to assist gins in obtaining appropriate air permitting.
In the future, that information will assist gins in meeting state and federal air quality regulations.
The NCGA also will continue to review and update its safety training videos and materials. Those will be placed on the NCGA’s website, which contains other resources such as the round module handling video and the transport guidelines.
Ashley is Vice President, Ginners Services, National Cotton Council of America, and Executive Vice President, National Cotton Ginners Association.