The Policy Education Program (PEP) is now in its 15th year of giving U.S. cotton producers an opportunityto learn more about the National Cotton Council’s (NCC) policy development/implementation process and the issues affecting the industry.

Supported by Syngenta Crop Protection through grants to The Cotton Foundation since 1999, the PEP enables up to four producers from each major Cotton Belt region to attend the NCC’s annual meeting where they receive an orientation to the NCC and its policy development process firsthand.

The participants also receive communications training — a key step in the NCC’s efforts to identify, train and maintain capable industry spokespersons.

The first 2013 PEP session will enable its 12 producer participants to attend the NCC’s Annual Meeting, Feb. 8-10 in Memphis. There they will see representatives from the seven U.S. cotton industry segments in the 17 Cotton Belt states work out common problems and develop programs of mutual benefit.

They will see the formulation and implementation of NCC policy and NCC resolutions, which guide the organization’s efforts as it manages issues that confront the industry during the year.

In the mid-July Session 2, the group will travel to Greensboro, N.C., and Washington, D.C. While in Greensboro, they will participate in a series of meetings with Syngenta’s management team and tour their research facilities as well as receive communications training.

In Washington, the group will visit with House and Senate agriculture committees’ staff, meet with USDA officials and get briefed by NCC Washington operations staff.

With completion of the 2013 PEP sessions, more than 180 National Cotton Council producer members will have participated in the program.

2013 PEP members are: Jamie  Boyd., Pinetown, N.C.; Derrick Burnam, Mangum, Okla.; Matt Coley, Vienna, Ga.; Lisa Ford, Kingsville, Texas; David Heath, Dover, N.C.; Pace Hindsley, Marvell, Ark.; Preston Jimmerson, Doerun, Ga.; Jay Layton, Thatcher, Ariz.;  Bryan Patterson, Amherst, Texas; Bobby Rieder, Sinton, Texas; Will Sanford, Prattville, Ala. and Mark True, Plainview, Texas.

John Gibson, the NCC’s Member Services director and PEP coordinator, said the NCC is grateful for Syngenta’s long-running sponsorship.

“Their support has enabled producers to better understand how federal farm policy, environmental issues, market development and other concerns are affecting U.S. cotton’s health as well as the profitability of their own individual operations,” he said.

“PEP not only has helped make its participants more aware of these issues but has generated enthusiastic producer participation in the Council — which boosts our efforts on behalf of the industry.”