A number of key issues confront the cotton ginning industry going into the new year, says Sledge Taylor, Como, Miss., producer/ginner and president of the National Cotton Ginners Association.

“Budget pressures continue to be a problem for the three USDA Cotton Ginning Laboratories — they have not had a funding increase in a number of years,” he told members of the Southern Cotton Ginners Association at their annual meeting at Memphis.

NCGA is working through the National Cotton Council on a request for additional appropriations “to insure that these labs are adequately funded so they can continue their valuable work,” Taylor said.

“We also are continuing to help and encourage Cotton Foundation funding for gin-related research and educational project proposals. During the past fiscal year, 11 of the projects funded by the foundation benefited the ginning industry directly or indirectly.”

Taylor said NCGA has been active, along with member organizations, including SCGA, in developing a model cottonseed contract that is now available to the industry.

“While we were developing this contract, we also discussed arbitration using National Cottonseed Products Association rules, and the NCPA has agreed to a number of changes that have greatly improved using its rules for arbitration.”

With the emphasis on alternative fuels, he said, the association recently included a resolution at the National Cotton Council annual meeting to promote the use of gin wastes as feedstock for ethanol and other biofuels.

Air quality issues “continue to be a major concern” for the ginning industry, Taylor said. “Last year, we announced an ambitious program to accurately measure emissions from gins across the Cotton Belt, and the program is now up and running.

“We hope data gathered from this study can be used to refute the erroneous data often used by state and federal regulators.

“There are many uncertainties as the 111th Congress and the new administration implement and pursue policy objectives. We’re concerned that either through the Clean Air Act or through standalone legislation, the government will attempt to regulate greenhouse gas emissions.”

In response to a Federal Register notice, Taylor said NCGA recent submitted comment that an attempt to regulate greenhouse gas emissions through the Clean Air Act “is a bad idea” and that “our analysis shows that under that scenario most, if not all, gins would be considered major sources of emissions.”

In 2008, he said, the association updated three gin safety videos and made those available to members, and updated the 10-year old Labor Guide for Ginners.

“This guide contains extremely useful information on how ginners can comply with a number of labor laws.”

e-mail: hbrandon@farmpress.com