MEMPHIS - National Cotton Council delegates will develop policies and programs to help the U.S. cotton industry meet challenges ranging from federal budget proposals to free trade negotiations during the NCC's 2005 Annual Meeting, Jan. 27-31 in Washington, DC.

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.

"Cotton's Capitol Agenda" is the theme of the meeting at the JW Marriott Hotel, which is expected to attract 700 leaders from U.S. cotton's seven segments and industry stakeholders across the Cotton Belt.

NCC President/CEO Mark Lange said that protecting the U.S. cotton's interests in the current farm legislation will continue to be a challenge and the NCC will seize every opportunity to convey to the Administration and to lawmakers just how important that law is to each U.S. cotton producer, to the entire industry's infrastructure and to the Cotton Belt's economy.

"There is concern that when Congress addresses the budget deficit in 2005, there will again be attempts to compromise farm law," Lange said. "We will continue to emphasize the fact that farm program expenditures have been under spent by $17 billion during the first three years of the farm bill. We also will remain steadfast in monitoring WTO negotiations to ensure our commodity's farm program components are not unfairly targeted."

Outgoing NCC Chairman Woody Anderson, who is a Colorado City, TX, producer, said this year's actions by Congress and the Administration, as has been the case so many times before, "will affect how our industry can compete in the world marketplace. It is appropriate that some of the convention's speakers will provide an inside view of Washington politics and describe how business is conducted within the Beltway."

In his address to NCC delegates on Jan. 31, Anderson will cover the state of the U.S. cotton industry and outline a 2005 plan of action. Joining him on that morning's program will be Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS), Appropriations Committee Chairman; Dr. Larry Sabato, a political analyst and the Robert Kent Gooch Professor of Politics at the University of Virginia; and Cotton Incorporated President/CEO Berrye Worsham.

The Jan. 29 luncheon will feature Communications Strategist Torie Clarke's analysis of "How Washington Works."

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 (NCGA) annual meeting; and Cotton Council International's Board of Directors.

The ACP's Jan. 28 meeting will feature the results of the NCC's annual Planting Intentions Survey, which provides the first insights into growers' plans for the 2005 season. Rep. Mike Ross (D-AR) and Memphis merchant William B. Dunavant III, will address the NCGA's annual meeting Jan. 29.

Also on the 29th, the NCC will present its economic outlook report to a joint session of the NCC's six program committees.

Additional information on the NCC's annual meeting can be found at www.cotton.org/events/amreg.

As the unifying force of the U.S. cotton industry, the Memphis-based National Cotton Council brings together industry representatives from the 17 cotton-producing states to establish policies reflecting the common interests and promoting mutual benefits for its broad membership and ancillary industries. The NCC's mission is ensuring the ability of all industry segments to compete effectively and profitably in the raw cotton, oilseed and U.S.-manufactured product markets at home and abroad.