Developing a farm bill that is timely and that preserves a farm safety net in a time of deficit reduction are the foremost challenges for new National Cotton Council Chairman Chuck Coley.

Coley, a cotton producer from Vienna, Ga., took office at the NCC annual meeting Feb. 12 in Fort Worth, Texas.

“We also have the Brazil WTO case to deal with, and that will take up a lot of time” Coley says.

The cotton industry faces a multitude of other issues in the coming year, he adds. Those include the regulatory and legislative challenges that “come up on a daily basis.” But getting a timely farm bill and dealing with the Brazil case are the two most important items Coley expects to face during his tenure as NCC chairman.

(Last fall, the Cotton Council proposed a new direction in farm policy. That information can be found at http://southeastfarmpress.com/government/ncc-advocates-change-course-farm-policy).

Also on the list is trouble in merchandising, including “defaults around the world. That’s a major concern for the total industry,” Coley says. “But the industry is united as a whole and this is a good message to carry to Washington to let regulators know that all seven segments of the industry are united behind one purpose.”

He says trade will be a key for 2012. He believes recently passed trade agreements have the potential to help move cotton, but offers a note of caution.

“It’s critical to keep moving cotton through the export channels to maintain our share of the market. It’s also critical that we maintain the yarn forward rules of origin,” he says.

“We have to make sure we have good rules of origin to be sure that these trade agreements do not jeopardize use or misuse (an agreement) so it doesn’t replace U.S. cotton in the marketplace.”

Coley says he would have “guessed a 5 percent” reduction in cotton acres for 2012. “But in the good talk Gary Adams made Saturday morning he came up with 7.5 percent. He’s probably right. Price determines what acreage will be more than anything.”