The National Cotton Council issued a response, available at www.cotton.org, to a Congressional Quarterly Weekly cover story on U.S. cotton policy and the U.S. cotton industry.
The response said the story was “steeped in error, surprising bias and fallacy, and that the author used every tried and true tactic to distort the picture — from sentence structure to carefully missing facts.”
The NCC’s response pointed out that the Brazil WTO case was based on U.S. farm policy enacted in already-expired farm laws. U.S. cotton acreage and production have dramatically declined over the past five years due to cotton support changes, Chinese market distortions, and mandated corn ethanol demand.
“The author’s attempt to link modern cotton with slavery is embarrassing to read and amazingly purposeful,” the response stated. “The CQ has retreated from an informational journal to a sensationalist approach to federal policy discussion.
“From wrong-headed facts (overstating average subsidies involved in the Brazil case by $1.5 billion per year), to callous disregard of facts and history (600,000 textile jobs in the U.S. lost since 2000 as a result of competition by child-labor-produced apparel products), to complete fabrication (West African cotton producers are not, and have never been, a competitive threat to U.S. cotton producers), to deliberate misstatement of facts (of the $829 million that Brazil is authorized to retaliate, only $147 million is due to cotton subsidies), the author and the publisher have written an article designed to distort the policy debate with respect to cotton.
“Of all the professed cotton experts who have written on the Brazil WTO case, only the CQ believes a one hectare West African cotton farm is competitively identical to a 10,000 acre Brazilian plantation — an assertion that is ludicrous on its face.”
The NCC’s response emphasized that when Congress, the Obama administration, and the U.S. cotton industry begin to consider new farm policy in the light of the next farm bill, “we are confident that debate will not lose sight of the importance of agriculture to America and the importance of cotton to agriculture in the United States.
“Hopefully, by that time, the Congressional Quarterly’s hatchet job on a huge portion of rural America will just be white noise, indistinguishable from a string of one-sided, biased attacks on farm programs.”