Delegates will review and adopt specific resolutions for NCC action in six key program arenas: farm and economic policy; international trade; public relations and international market development; research and education; packaging and distribution; and health, safety and the environment.

They will place special emphasis on reviewing trade and economic policies, which can increase consumption of U.S. cotton and cotton products here at home and in overseas markets, and identify programs and industry practices that provide opportunities to enhance competitiveness, efficiency and profitability.

“Solutions Through Strength” is the theme of the meeting at the New Orleans Marriott Hotel, which is expected to attract 1,000 leaders from U.S. cotton’s seven segments and industry stakeholders across the Cotton Belt.

“This theme is emblematic of the Council’s record of success for finding workable solutions to the industry’s problems and finding those answers as the result of having a strong, unified voice,” said NCC Chairman Bobby Greene, a Courtland, Ala., ginner.

NCC President/CEO Mark Lange said trade issues framed a major part of the Council’s activities in 2003 and will continue as a Council focal point in the foreseeable future.

“Trade policy now stands virtually shoulder to shoulder with farm policy in determining the ultimate success of the U.S. cotton industry,” Lange noted. “The Council will continue to evaluate trade agreements as to their capacity to serve the interests of the entire U.S. cotton industry.

“I look forward to another year of challenges with the knowledge that the commitment of all our industry leadership is unsurpassed and that USDA and the U.S. Trade Representative’s office have a full appreciation of the Council’s contributions to trade policy development and implementation.”

Greene will cover the state of the U.S. cotton industry and outline a plan of action in his address to the general session on Monday. Joining him on that morning’s program will be Undersecretary of Agriculture Bill Hawks, who has oversight responsibility for USDA’s wide-ranging marketing and regulatory matters including commodity research and promotion programs, APHIS’ boll weevil and pink bollworm eradication programs and the cotton classing system.

The program also features an in- depth review of the 2004 elections by nationally syndicated political analyst and author Tucker Carlson. A report on cotton’s national and international research and promotion programs by Cotton Incorporated President/CEO Berrye Worsham will round out Monday’s general session.

Other key sessions scheduled during the annual meeting are: the American Cotton Producers (ACP), the NCC’s producer policy development group; the National Cotton Ginners Association’s annual meeting; and Cotton Council International’s Board of Directors meeting.

The ACP’s meeting on Friday will feature the results of the NCC’s annual Planting Intentions Survey, which provides the first insights into growers’ plans for the 2004 season, and an address by Mack Gray, deputy undersecretary for natural resources and environment who will discuss USDA’s extensive conservation programs with special emphasis on the new Conservation Security Program scheduled to be initiated in the spring.

Gray also will address the National Cotton Ginners Association during their annual meeting Jan. 31 where he will focus on air quality issues.

On Saturday, the NCC will present its economic outlook report to a joint session of the NCC’s six program committees, and the National Cotton Ginners Association will conduct its annual meeting. A special luncheon that day will feature Suzy DeFrancis, who serves President George W. Bush as deputy assistant to the President for communications.

e-mail: flaws@primediabusiness.com