The Delta Council’s board of directors has approved a resolution urging Congress to provide full funding for the USDA Cotton Ginning Laboratory at Stoneville, Miss.

The research facility has had to reduce scientist positions from five to four as a result of a funding shortfall in fiscal 2007 that occurred because the appropriations measure didn’t make it through the Senate.

“We’ve had to operate on funds through a continuing resolution, at the same level as for fiscal 2006,” Ed King, director of the Mid-South area for USDA’s Agricultural Research Service, said at the recent joint meeting of the council’s Ginning and Cotton Quality Improvement Committee and the Southern Cotton Ginners Association.

“This has limited us to addressing higher priority projects. We could do a lot more if we had the appropriate resources.”

The council resolution terms the lab “vitally important to the fiber quality and economics of cotton production and processing in the Mississippi Delta.”

Advances in technology for cotton ginning that have taken place at the facility “have enabled gins to remain compliant with air quality standards of the Environmental Protection Agency, while constantly improving the management of fiber quality.”

The resolution asks that the lab “continue to emphasize the study of all aspects of reducing costs and increasing marketable cotton lint with characteristics that respond to prevailing market signals. Also, special attention should be focused on the behavior and quality of newer, higher-yielding cotton varieties at the point of ginning.”

USDA should continue to emphasis research on cottonseed aimed at insuring the future market share in the oil and meal marketplace, the resolution says.

The council commended Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran for including increased funding for the laboratory in the fiscal 2007 Senate appropriations and asked that Congress provide the balance of $250,0000 in additional funds in future years.

e-mail: hbrandon@farmpress.com