The National Cotton Council says that it is concerned about the Interim Report released by a panel hearing the U.S./Brazil cotton dispute decision.
The panel has issued an Interim Report to the parties in the dispute that reflects their interim decision. Deemed to be a confidential document, it has been released to the two governments for the purpose of soliciting their comments on the Panel's initial determinations.
The press has reported certain aspects of the Panel's ruling that do not appear to be favorable for the U.S. cotton industry. The U.S. government is still carefully reviewing the entire report, and an official has indicated they have concerns with many aspects of the Panel's decision and will appeal the ruling if it becomes final.
"If the published reports are accurate, the interim decision is unfortunate and, we believe, incorrect," says NCC Chairman Woody Anderson. "This dispute highlights the difficulty associated with any nation designing farm policy to serve domestic goals while meeting international trade commitments.
"The National Cotton Council will continue to work with the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative in order to ensure the final WTO decision is in keeping with the intent of the Uruguay Round Agricultural Agreements," he continues. "The Brazil cotton case is very complex - with many decision points throughout. It is unwise to speculate about the Panel's ultimate conclusions using incomplete press reports."
Anderson said the NCC understands that the United States has not commented directly on the confidential Interim Report. He added that the NCC believes that the current farm program provides an important safety net for the farm economy while complying with our commitments under the WTO.
"The Council is very appreciative and encouraged by the vigilant defense of the farm bill in separate statements by Senate Ag Committee Chairman Cochran, House Ag Committee Chairman Goodlatte and Ranking Member Stenholm, and the Administration," the Texas cotton producer says.
"We are in consultation with the U.S. government concerning the report," Anderson adds. "It is very unlikely there will be any immediate impact on current U.S. programs. Any changes to the cotton program that are warranted, given the Panel decision, will only affect future crops of U.S. cotton."
Anderson said that the Brazil challenge covered a wide array of U.S. programs over a significant number of years and Brazil had a good chance, given the broad scope of its challenge, for the Panel to side with them on a few points.
"We hope that, when given a chance to review the entire determination, we will have a better idea of how the Panel ruled on a number of technical items," he says. "We can fully evaluate the impact of this decision on the U.S. cotton program only after we completely understand the Panel's rationale."