THE U.S. cotton industry's export promotion program has been given a boost with a grant from Stoneville Pedigreed Seed Company. The $75,000 annual special project grant to The Cotton Foundation will be used to support Cotton Council International's (CCI) Cotton USA Advantage program — an effort designed to help overseas consumers distinguish the unique qualities and services of U.S. cotton and U.S. cotton products.

As the export promotion arm of the Memphis-based National Cotton Council of America, CCI works to promote U.S. cotton fiber and cotton products as the choice for global textile manufacturers and consumers through its extensive Cotton USA trade servicing and consumer promotion programs. With offices in Washington, Memphis, London, Hong Kong and Seoul, CCI plays a major role in strengthening key markets for U.S. cotton and U.S. cotton products in Europe, Asia, Latin America, the Middle East and Africa.

“This grant from Stoneville couldn't have come at a better time because it is imperative that we elevate the competitiveness of U.S. cotton in the world marketplace,” said Bobby Carson, CCI second vice president. The Marks, Miss., cotton producer said this type of grant maximizes CCI's budget power because CCI can use the contribution to leverage its U.S. government, industry and international funding sources.

Mark Lange, a NCC vice president and economist, said Stoneville's support of the industry's export promotion program is encouraging. “This comes at a crucial time as CCI is striving to help U.S. cotton overcome stiff competition from cotton and other fibers,” he said. “There is a good possibility that U.S. cotton can export 9 million bales in 2001 and capture a 32 percent share of the world cotton market. A strongly-endowed CCI can certainly help U.S. cotton be competitive and maintain that marketshare in the future.”

Thomas F. “Bud” Hughes, Stoneville Pedigreed Seed president, said, “We are really pleased to support CCI's Cotton USA market development programs, and to be able to help U.S. cotton continue as the dominant player in world cotton trade. Stoneville has been advancing the supply side of U.S. cotton through more productive varieties for almost 80 years. Now, by working cooperatively with CCI, we have found a small way to help build demand for our U.S. customer's product.”

Hughes says Stoneville recognizes the importance to U.S. cotton's global success of being able to supply high-quality Cotton USA fiber to modern textile operations.

“For years we have been developing cotton varieties with improved fiber quality, yield and performance stability,” Hughes said. “Today our company has also placed a renewed emphasis on meeting the needs of our customer's customers, and is committed to the development of varieties with improved fiber properties that will support the needs of the changing textile industry. Plant breeding is a slow process, but we are committed long-term to investing more money into research and development efforts today in multiples of what we did 10 years ago.”