A key priority, he said, was “maintaining constant contact with Congress and the administration on a host of legislative and regulatory issues,” including farm bill implementation, the administration’s budget proposal, agricultural appropriations, emergency disaster legislation, the World Trade Organization’s Brazil case, new farm legislation, and a number of key regulatory concerns.”

And, Smith said, the council “provided factual and timely responses to the misinformation that appeared in a number of editorials by the popular press” through articles that addressed the WTO Brazil case, U.S. cotton policy, and emergency disaster legislation.

“We were very pleased with the administration’s announcement of a negotiated framework agreement in the WTO/Brazil cotton case — which avoids the immediately harmful economic effects of trade retaliation and puts the serious discussion concerning U.S. cotton program changes before Congress in the 2012 farm bill.”

Smith cautioned, however, that “there will be long-term implications as we will be faced with the potential of making significant changes to the U.S. cotton program.”

On a positive note, he said, the council “was able to convey our industry’s concerns on a number of key environmental issues during a special and unprecedented meeting last year with USDA Secretary Ton Vilsack and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson. We were joined by the chairmen of five other commodity groups to discuss National Pollutant Discharge Elimination (NPDES) permits, spray drift regulations, the Endangered Species Act, and the pesticide registration process, along with other concerns.”

Throughout 2010, the Cotton Foundation continued to play a vital role in support of the council’s mission through its agribusiness members’ support for a number of important research and education efforts, Smith said.

“Beyond our industry’s near-term challenges and priorities, the council implemented a plan for effectively addressing several important long-term goals. The Cotton Foundation’s Vision 21 project is providing a three-pronged approach for addressing the critical issues facing the U.S. cotton industry, with work areas that are necessary for our industry’s future success.

“These include an assessment of the fastest-growing consumer markets for cotton textiles, life-cycle studies to strengthen cotton’s sustainability message, and a thorough analysis of ways to improve cotton flow. This project will culminate later this year with industry stakeholder meetings to develop policies and programs that will help guide the council, CCI, and the Cotton Foundation in building new markets and achieving industry profitability and efficiency.”

Vision 21 is being jointly managed by the council, CCI and Cotton Incorporated, and was funded by an initial grant from Monsanto, with additional support from John Deere.

“There are still many challenges before us,” Smith said. “Research, education and technology transfer continue to be critically important, and the council will continue its longstanding commitment of its resources for technology development and transfer and bringing resolution to technology-based priorities.”