The Cotton Board approved Cotton Incorporated’s proposed 2009 budget of $78 million during the Cotton Board's recent Annual Meeting. The Cotton Board also approved $3.1 million in supplemental funding, bringing Cotton Incorporated’s total 2009 budget to $81.1 million. The allocated budget and plan will now be forwarded to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) for final approval.

Cotton Incorporated’s President and CEO, J. Berrye Worsham, outlined the major budgetary needs and key directives for the organization during his presentation to the Cotton Board, which includes the following: a new U.S. consumer communication strategy that will feature celebrity talent from the music industry; a continued corporate focus on sustainability that will feature an industry sustainability summit in Hong Kong in mid-2009; a continued commitment to improving producer and industry profitability through agricultural and textile processing research; and continued joint programs with Cotton Council International to maximize U.S. cotton's presence throughout the world.

"The U.S. cotton industry faces a number of challenges today ranging from competition from alternative crops at the farm level to greater competition from alternative fibers at the retail/consumer level. We will continue to seek the proper balance between our research programs, which are geared to longer-run improvements in our fiber and the products derived from it, and our promotional activities which have a shorter-term effect on consumer attitudes and demand. Our staff remains committed to our mission and to constantly adjusting our strategy as conditions warrant," explained Worsham.

Also addressing the Cotton Board, National Cotton Council Chairman, Arkansas producer and ginner Larry McClendon provided an update about current policy matters affecting cotton including the key provisions in the farm bill as well as the continued importance of Cotton Incorporated's and CCI's efforts to link China and U.S. cotton while increasing the overall consumer demand for cotton. "We worked hard to convey the industry's priorities of the farm bill to Congress," said McClendon, "There is still significant work to be done in implementing the provisions of the new farm law. In addition to farm programs, there are also new provisions on classing fees.”

McClendon also acknowledged the work of the Cotton Research & Promotion Program. "The National Cotton Council continues to be impressed with the innovative market promotion and research activities of Cotton Incorporated which are operated under the supervision of the Cotton Board," he stated. "Because of the expanded resources from producers and importers, the Program continues to meet the challenges from synthetic fibers and we are fully supportive of their ongoing efforts."

Special guest speaker Thomas P. Scott, president and CEO of Informa Economics, gave an eye-opening presentation to the Cotton Board about his company’s efforts to forecast trends affecting cotton and other commodities. He spoke to the Board about the new era of economics, with the overriding theme of his presentation being: “Markets work.” He further explained, “The cure for high prices is higher prices because high prices encourage higher production.” Scott also gave insight into topics like the current unemployment rate, consumer confidence, energy and the declining cotton acreage in the United States. Informa Economics is a Memphis-based Project Consulting Group. To see Thomas Scott’s full presentation, please visit www.cottonboard.org.

The Cotton Board was addressed by another special guest, Dana Telsey, president and chief research officer of TAG (Telsey Advisory Group). Telsey, who has been featured on NBC Nightly News and The Today Show, gave an exciting and informative presentation on “Trends in Retail.” She highlighted what it takes to make a retailer successful, saying “It is so important for retailers to have a clear concept along with an execution plan and effective management.” Telsey also commented on current retail trends, the top 10 retailers and gave an outlook on the future of the retail sector. To see Dana Telsey’s complete presentation, please visit www.cottonboard.org.

To close out the meeting, Cotton Board Chairman and Arkansas cotton producer Robert McGinnis provided comments to the members and alternates about significant activities of the Cotton Board during his first year as chairman. “Through the 40 years of this Program, Cotton Incorporated’s budget has grown incrementally as creative programs have been expanded to capitalize on market opportunities, and it is important for the Cotton Board to continue their oversight of the Cotton Research & Promotion Program for the betterment of cotton,” he stated. “I believe our funding and the decisions made by this Board will ensure proper guidance and a financial foundation upon which Cotton Incorporated can continue to build and implement creative research and promotion programs to further their mission of improving the demand for and profitability of cotton.”

McGinnis also commended Cotton Incorporated’s role in eliminating gossypol in cottonseed, which could increase cotton’s use in food markets – as well as their ongoing efforts to promote cotton’s excellent environmental track record. McGinnis added his appreciation to the National Cotton Council for their effort to accelerate the process that will ultimately allow Kansas, Virginia and Florida to be recognized as separate cotton producing states and thus allow producers from those states to have representation on the Cotton Board. On the importer front, he commented that the Cotton Board’s Importer Support Program (ISP) (which was created in similar theory to Cotton Incorporated’s State Support Program) has made great gains by creating and funding the ISP Scholarship Program, which teaches young designers the benefits of cotton.”