The National Cotton Council (NCC) said U.S. agriculture is losing a strong advocate in Missouri Rep. Jo Ann Emerson, who announced her retirement from Congress on December 3.

“Representative Emerson will be missed by U.S. agriculture, especially our cotton industry,” NCC Chairman Chuck Coley said. “She understands the challenges facing America’s farmers, and worked tirelessly to promote their ability to compete in the global marketplace. As a member of the agriculture appropriations subcommittee, she supported funding for effective research, export promotion and conservation programs.”

Note: Emerson is expected to become president and CEO of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association in February 2013.

Coley, a Georgia producer/ginner, said that although Rep. Emerson represented the southeast Missouri cotton area, she was very cognizant of the entire U.S. cotton industry’s impact on this nation’s economic health, including the gins, warehouses and hundreds of other small cotton businesses that are so important to their rural communities.

Former NCC Chairman Charles Parker, a Senath, Missouri, producer/ginner and current chairman of the NCC’s Boll Weevil Action Committee, noted that Rep. Emerson was an early advocate for federal cost share funding to facilitate the successful completion of boll weevil eradication in Missouri and, ultimately, in the United States.

“She strongly backed science-based regulations and was an opponent of burdensome regulations that do little to protect consumers or the environment but add unnecessary costs to commercially viable food and fiber production,” Parker said. “She also continued the work of her late husband by providing solid support for U.S. international food aid programs through the Emerson Trust and other outlets.”

Rep. Emerson, who sits on the House Appropriations Committee, is a member of the agriculture subcommittee and chairs the Financial Services and General Government Subcommittee. She was re-elected in November to serve a ninth term representing Missouri's Eighth District. That District, also known as the Bootheel, not only is home to the state’s cotton industry but to the nation’s largest rice-producing district.

Rep. Emerson was first elected to the House in 1996 to fill the remainder of the term of her husband, Bill Emerson, who died in office that year.