What is in this article?:
- Southern Cotton Ginners Association hear of need to improve cotton "flow."
- Details and intricacies of "flow" issues discussed.
Apples to apples
Any other cotton-producing country that is facing the same issue and tackled them differently?
“An excellent question.
“And, yes, my guess is all cotton-growing areas face flow problems.
“But when you compare access to cotton by country, make sure you’re comparing apples to apples. Sometimes we compare, for example, the ability to move French West African cotton already in a port and staged for shipment in blocks, to cotton that is still in country warehouses in the United States that will be picked by individual bale number. That’s not apples to apples.
“The U.S. system is designed so the farmer/gin relationship dictates which warehouse the cotton is stored in without much, in most cases, input from the shipper. Of course, there are exceptions but under this common practice the shipper finds themselves with little influence when asking for exceptional or higher than standard performance.
“That’s why we’re trying to figure out a tiered system. Then a shipper can say ‘yeah, I know you normally ship 4.5 percent of capacity per week and I’m asking for volume in excess of that, so charge me an expedited fee but ship my cotton. The proposed fee should at least cover the warehouse’s increased cost and loss revenue associated with the exceptional service while still being economically justifiable from the shipper’s position? If a system like I described can be put in place, both companies win and more importantly U.S. cotton wins.”
On understanding each segment of the cotton industry…
“Remember the warehouseman is no different than the merchandiser or textile mill – he’s responsible to the people who invested capital in his operation to run an efficient business. How long will that warehouseman be around if he plans to ship at high volumes that he rarely receives request for? He’s gone.
“Occasionally it seems there is a belief that just because bale data, as electronic blips on a computer screen, can be moved very quickly that bales likewise can zip to a ship headed across the ocean. Unfortunately, we all really know it doesn’t work that way – physical bales take time, trained labor, equipment, and fuel to stage, prepare, and load.
“Frequently, even though the warehousemen wants nothing more than to give the shipper his requested load dates they find themselves constrained by the available equipment, personnel, and facility limitations associated with bunched shipping orders.
“Will paying for expedited delivery during heavy shipment periods help the flow situation? Certainly, but probably not to the extent of solving all flow issues or delayed deliveries but it will put a big dent in our current problem. If we create a system that sends a timely economic signal to the businessmen, that are running our cotton warehouses, I am confident they will spend the necessary money to gear up and make more cotton available for shipment during peak demand periods. We may not get 100% of the desired cotton on the exact date requested, but I bet it won’t take 120 days, either…
“We need to tweak our system so it sends an economic signal of reward for the desired performance. Right now, that isn’t always the case.”