C&T Stakeholder Newsletter

Agricultural Marketing Service

The Stakeholder Newsletter of the Cotton & Tobacco Program - July 2021

Ronald Robbins, C&T ADA; Darryl Earnest, C&T DA; and Monica Alexander, C&T ADA

Welcome to the third edition in our series of C&T external stakeholder newsletters. We will continue to publish these twice per year to provide updates on Program operations, activities, and noteworthy items. In this issue, we will provide updates on our operational performance during COVID-19, the development and implementation of new confidentiality language for our Market News Division, a new internal training program, our recent standards matching, and plans for the upcoming cotton season. In addition, we will provide updated progress on the construction of the new Lubbock Cotton Classification Complex.

Earlier in 2021, C&T worked with the American Cotton Shippers Association and the National Cotton Council to develop confidentiality language to use when collecting market information from merchants, cooperatives, and other sources. This was requested to ensure that any information provided to C&T for use in formulating summary market new reports would be confidential and not published individually. This provision was already part of the statutes governing market news, but the new language provided more specificity to meet the stakeholders’ needs and request. The Program worked over several months to get the language vetted with stakeholders and the Agency’s Office of General Counsel.

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Market News Confidentiality Language

2020-2021 Quality Highlights

Map of NASS Ag Districts in Alabama, Florida, and Georgia

The USDA, AMS, Cotton and Tobacco Program’s Market News Division released the Annual Quality Report for the 2020 cotton crop on June 28, 2021. USDA, AMS, Cotton and Tobacco Program Classing Offices graded 13,646,902 Upland bales and 531,974 bales of American Pima. For the 2020 crop, 74.8 percent of cotton classed was tenderable for delivery against the Intercontinental Exchange (ICE) Cotton Futures contract.

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Construction Update: New Lubbock Cotton Classification Complex

New Lubbock Classing Office Photo taken in late July 2021 shows current progress

The construction of the new Cotton Classification Complex in Lubbock, Texas, which began in May 2020, continues to make substantial progress. This 30,000 square-foot classing complex will be constructed, owned and operated by USDA, AMS, Cotton and Tobacco Program (C&T), and located on the Texas Tech University campus (across from the Rawls Golf Course), through a unique cooperative agreement with the University signed in July 2019. This partnership will foster opportunities for Texas Tech and other universities to learn more about cotton fiber measurement and grading operations by having direct access to the facility in a learning and teaching environment. This is the first collaboration on a cotton classing facility between the C&T Program and an institution of higher learning.

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C&T Navigates Challenging Year

C&T COVID-19 Success infographic

The C&T Program successfully completed the classing of the 2020 cotton crop around mid-May with a total of 13.6 million Upland bales and nearly 532,000 Pima bales, for a total of approximately 14.1 million bales classed. Faced with a smaller crop and many challenges due to COVID-19, including operating with a limited workforce and operating only two shifts in all locations, we were pleased with our Program’s ability to maintain grading operations with minimum disruptions.

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C&T 2020 Season Successes Infographic


2021 Standards Matching Continues In-Person

Upland Cotton Matching

The USDA, AMS Cotton & Tobacco Program (C&T) welcomed representatives from the cotton industry to review and approve the 2021 standard grade boxes for Upland and American Pima cotton. This is an important annual event, and industry participation is key to the process. In 2020 industry members and C&T staff made the difficult decision to postpone the 2020 Upland and Pima matching due to COVID-19 restrictions. Leading up to the 2021 matching event there was a lot of anticipation from the industry. There has only been one other interference that has disrupted the traditional matching process. With C&T staff making slight changes to the process, the 2021 matching was able to proceed in-person following CDC recommendations.

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Cotton and Tobacco - cultivating a legacy of excellence