With the 2003 harvest season just around the corner, cotton ginners, warehousemen and bale packaging suppliers are being reminded that they should use only USDA-approved bale packaging material.

In a letter to its member firms, U.S. cotton industry interest organizations and commercial packaging firms, the National Cotton Council said it has learned that some materials that are not approved have been offered for sale to the cotton industry.

“Use of materials that do not meet the established standards for cotton bale packaging materials is a violation of USDA requirements and many U.S. trading rules,” said Keith Pendergrass, chairman of the Cotton Council's Joint Cotton Industry Bale Packaging Committee, in the letter.

“Ginners and warehousemen, in partnership with packaging suppliers, are strongly encouraged to take the necessary steps to insure the use of only approved packaging materials.”

The Georgia ginner said wrapping or tying bales with materials that do not meet JCIBPC specifications can: (1) make cotton bales ineligible for Commodity Credit Corporation loan and other farm program benefits and (2) violate many U.S. trading rules. He said the use of approved bagging and ties also is important for helping U.S. cotton maintain its outstanding reputation in the world marketplace.

Dale Thompson, the NCC's manager of marketing and processing technology, said NCC staff has been made aware that some bale bags without the required identification markings have been offered for sale to the cotton industry.

He reminded industry members that bale packaging specifications define the minimum acceptable marking that must appear on the bags, and that only polyethylene film, woven polypropylene and woven polyethylene bags made in NAFTA countries can be considered for approval.

“Identification markings are required to be printed on each bag to help assure the buyer that bags have been officially tested and certified to meet industry and government specifications,” Thompson noted.

The JCIBPC List of Approved Bagging Manufacturers & Importers is available on the National Cotton Council's Web site at www.cotton.org/tech/bale/bagging-list.cfm.