“The last few years, we’ve had increases in extraneous matter, especially bark, and leaf grades have also increased. The reasons vary widely, and include plant diseases, varieties being grown, harvest aids, pickers, and the USDA classing offices. Seed coat fragments have also become a quality problem.

“Just a few years ago, bark problems were almost unheard of in the Southeast and Mid-South regions. This is a costly quality concern, and we must determine the sources and develop a solution.”

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Additionally, Alford says, the nation’s cotton gins are “continuing to be bombarded” with new and updated regulations.

“Agencies such as OSHA and EPA have been especially active during the Obama administration, and NCGA has been active in commenting on proposed rules and developing materials to address changes to regulations that affect ginners.

“Among those issues were recent changes to the hazardous communications program, to which we responded with updates to our safety training video and creation of a complete training program that is available on our website.

“We’re also closely monitoring a number of air quality concerns that range from current implementation of EPA regulations to possible new climate change legislation. We have finalized our sampling project to determine accurate emissions data, and that information is now being used by some states to help with air quality permitting, and in the future can be used to assist gins in meeting state and federal air quality regulations.”

Last year, he says, the president announced a renewed emphasis on climate change “by attacking new and existing coal-fired electric generation facilities.

“Rather than use legislation, as was attempted early in his first term, the president announced that he would use a number of executive orders to limit carbon emissions. Immediately afterward, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced several initiatives that would be implemented by USDA to address climate change — intentions that he repeated immediately after the president signed the new farm bill.

“Most recently, the president reiterated his plan to use executive orders to accomplish his agenda if Congress doesn’t provide legislation. We will need to monitor all this closely, as everyone in the ginning industry would potentially be impacted.”