Elections 2004

Industry steps up pressure, launches billboard campaign

October 11, 2004

By Devin Steele

GREENSBORO, NC — Four weeks away from national elections, Carlinas-based textile executives on October 4 kicked off a joint grassroots campaign aimed at putting America’s “broken” trade policy on the minds of voters.

John Emrich, president and CEO of Guilford Mills, Greensboro, NC, speaks during a press conference that kicked off a joint grassroots campaign as Steve Dobbins (L), president and CEO of Carolina Mills, Maiden, NC, and other industry executives look on. The billboard, aimed at raising public awareness across the state, was unveiled during the event. Photo by Devin Steele

During a press conference in the parking lot of Fairways Outdoor Advertising here, industry leaders unveiled a billboard conveying a message they hope the public, especially North Carolinians, will keep in mind before pulling the lever on Nov. 2. The message — “Stop Sending Jobs Overseas. Fix Trade Policy Now! Register. VOTE!” — will be carried on 48 billboards in at least 32 communities across the state. The billboard also includes a Web site address (www.myjobcounts.org) for more information.

“This is our continuing drive to educate our workers in terms of the issues taking place that have created so many problems with employment in the state of North Carolina and elsewhere by bad trade policies,” said John Emrich, president and CEO of Guilford Mills, based here.

“This is non-partisan,” he added. “The people in Washington are elected by each and every one of us, and if each and every one of us is educated and gets out to the polls, we’re going to make good decisions. We’re going to send the right message to our people in Washington that this is an important issue that goes beyond textiles.”

Though aimed at North Carolina, representatives from a handful of South Carolina textile firms were on hand to support the campaign, among them Springs Industries and Leigh Fibers. A similar campaign was launched in South Carolina earlier this year, with AMTAC funding billboards across the state. The billboards read: “Lost Your Job To ‘Free Trade’ And Offshoring Yet? Register. Vote.”

The effort, which also includes the distribution of bumper stickers and yard signs to textile employees, was organized by the American Manufacturing Trade Action Coalition (AMTAC), the National Council of Textile Organizations (NCTO) and the National Textile Association (NTA).

“We’re giving these to our associates in order to draw not only their attention but the attention of their families, friends and neighbors,” said Rick Bullard, president and CEO of Ameritex Yarn, Burlington, NC. “These will be very visible in our communities. And it’s very important that we educate our employees and communities about this issue.”

Textile companies already have conducted voter registration drives and distributed the results of candidate questionnaires, Bullard added.

“To believe something needs fixing, you have to believe something is broken,” said Steve Dobbins, president and CEO of Carolina Mills, Maiden, NC. “Our trade policy is seriously broken.”

Since 2001, North Carolina has lost nearly 160,000 manufacturing jobs, or 21 percent of the state’s total number of factory jobs. Additionally, in the textile and apparel sector, the state has lost 60,300 jobs, accounting for 37 percent of all job losses in North Carolina.

“It’s not just a textile problem,” Dobbins said. “This is a serious problem that extends way beyond textiles. Certainly North Carolina, being so heavily involved in manufacturing, feels the effects, but even service jobs aren’t exempt, due to our bad trade policy.”

He added that though such issues as national security and health care are important, he hopes they won’t dwarf the trade policy issue come election day.

“This campaign can be very effective because millions of impressions will be made through billboards, bumper stickers and signs,” Dobbins said. “There are folks who aren’t even aware of this problem. Our textile folks are pretty educated about this. They have felt it up close and personal. Hopefully what we’ll do in this next 30 days is put this message out there and help folks understand this problem.”

The campaign is part of a three-pronged effort by these industry groups to affect change in U.S. trade policy. Besides building public awareness, the organizations are pursuing policy changes in Washington, DC, that will either fix problems or at least mitigate some of the damage, according to the groups. To that end, the industry said it would file threat-based textile safeguard petitions against China later in the week.

Third, the coalition is pursuing policy changes at the international level. Together, they are pressing the World Trade Organization for solutions that will preserve the ability of industries in all countries to compete fairly in global markets, it said.

During the press conference, leaders addressed the fact that, beyond U.S. trade policy, China has exacerbated problems for American factories and elsewhere in the global trading arena.

“China cheats,” Emrich said. “Some people grimace, but that’s the truth. Another 30 million jobs in the world could be impacted (if China is allowed to continue its current trade practices when global textile and apparel quotas come off on Jan. 1).”

Jim Copland, president and CEO of Copland Industries Inc. in Burlington, NC, added that the U.S. textile industry can compete with anyone in the world, if the playing field is level.

“We have the finest plants, the most efficient plants, the most productive plants, the best work force, the best trained people,” he told STN. “But we cannot compete against subsidies. We can compete against anybody, but we cannot compete against foreign governments and that’s what we’re having to try to do. Nobody can win against the Chinese formula — no capital costs, subsidies, currency manipulation, etc.

“People talk about the labor. If the other countries in the world played by the same rules as we do and even if their labor was free, we would win, hands down,” he added.

Textile News Index

IFAI Expo 2004

Fabric makers to hit Pitt.

Exhibitor summaries ... 
October 11, 2004

Specialty fabrics producers and suppliers will converge on Pittsburgh Oct. 27-29 for IFAI Expo 2004.

More than 400 exhibitors and 8,000 participants are expected to show up for the event at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center.

Organized by the Industrial Fabrics Association International (IFAI), IFAI Expo is the Americas’ largest annual specialty fabrics industry exposition.

More than 120 educational programs will encourage participants to step outside of their daily work to gain perspective and discuss new ideas and strategies. A combination of technical papers, poster sessions, seminars, case studies, panel discussions and keynote presentations make the programs a diverse learning experience.

Dr. Robert Gates, one of the foremost experts on the subject of global terrorism, will be the keynote speaker. Gates, former director of the CIA and security advisor to six U.S. presidents, will provide a unique assessment of a world challenged by instability, economic turmoil — and opportunity.

Products made from specialty fabrics for homeland security and military applications play a vital role in the fight against terrorism.

Meanwhile, the Industrial Fabrics Foundation (IFF) will hold its second-annual silent auction at the expo to raise funds for its college scholarships, which are awarded each year to employees of IFAI member companies and their children and students enrolled in accredited college or university textile programs.

Open during IFAI Expo 2004 exhibit hours, and featuring a “Preview Day” on Oct. 26, the 2004 IFF Silent Auction will be located near the registration area.

Textile News Index

Textile school

NCCATT changing with times to help industry

October 11, 2004

By Devin Steele

BELMONT, NC — Dr. James Lemons, president of the North Carolina Center for Applied Textile Technology (NCCATT) here, said the school he has overseen for 20 years is changing with the times to help the domestic textile industry stay competitive and viable.

Raul Thomas, manager of Textile Lab & Training for Uster Technologies, shows a group of industry executives his company’s equipment at the NC Center for Applied Textile Technology during a recent open house. Uster is one of the school’s Business Education Partners. Photo by Devin Steele

As the industry has contracted over the last few years, the 62-year-old center has evolved from by and large an education and training facility — though that remains an important part of its mission — to a resource for companies to explore new products and markets in order to sustain the industry and retain jobs.

“The primary mission of this institution is to help save jobs in the textile industry,” Lemons said. “If the industry is to survive, if we are going to keep jobs domestically, then we have to get to the point where we have value-added, niche-type products that help companies get ahead of the curve.”

Through its close association with the industry, Lemons said, the NCCATT is helping companies achieve this end by adapting to the shifting industry and turning its focus to three major services:

• product development — providing access to process laboratories and equipment;

• testing and analysis — offering state-of-the-art labs and equipment for companies; and

• technical assistance — sharing expertise with customers or developing products in such areas as market research, training materials and databases.

“The school is transitioning from an educational institution to an economic development entity that can provide these services to our industry,” Lemons said. “And what do we need? We need product development. We need some way of testing and evaluating products. We need somebody who can help us in finding these niche markets through market research and so forth.”

Lemons, and many supporters of the center — both inside and outside the industry — are in the process of making those points to representatives of an independent research firm commissioned by the NC Department of Community Colleges to study the NCCATT’s viability and to recommend its future direction. The 60-day study, being conducted by Regional Technology Strategies, Inc. of Carrboro, NC, is set to conclude at the end of the month.

Dramatic shift

The school’s president certainly believes in the importance of the school to the industry, which is why the center is moving its resources to better suit the changing industry, he said.

Dr. James Lemons

There's been such a dramatic shift in the textile industry the last four or five years,” he said. “The handwriting was pretty much on the wall about that. If we continued to try to make this a teaching and training institution, who were we going to be training? So what we did was step back and say, ‘the purpose of this school is to serve the industry. What is the best way to serve the industry?’

“We began thinking about the resources here and how we could help fill a void in the industry. We concluded that the very areas companies have cut back in are areas that may be the salvation of the industry. So we are becoming that resource.”

Lemons explained that, since many companies have been forced into belt-tightening, some have trimmed their work forces in certain areas (product development, research, et al) that can be keys to their very survival.

“We hear all the time that you have to be innovative, you have to be creative, you have to keep your eye on the ball,” he said. “But you need the capability to do that. Those are areas where we can help.”

Among areas the center can assist companies, for instance, is in sample production and prototyping, he noted. Through equipment donations from Business Education Partners and expertise of its staff, the NCCATT is able to produce small lots quickly for companies that have no in-house capabilities to do so, at a reasonable cost, Lemons said.

In the school’s training environment of the past, older equipment could be used to teach textile processes such as spinning or carding, in principle. But today, with the school producing “real” samples, it has created something of a “mini-mill,” through those state-of-the-art donations from partners.

“Because our partners provide us with equipment, training and expertise, we don’t have to lean on the taxpayers of the State of North Carolina to meet our needs,” Lemons said.

Aside from industry, the NCCATT also has worked and continues to worth with the federal government, particularly Customs and Border Protection (CBP). Center staff have developed training material that has enabled CBP personnel at 301 U.S. ports of entry to enforce textile laws and regulations.

The school also is in the process of compiling for CBP a CD containing the language in U.S. trade agreements, which the center plans to copyright and make available to others (lawyers, industry, shippers, et al), as well.

Study welcomed

With all of these initiatives being undertaken, Lemons said he has welcomed the state-ordered study, which came about after a state audit that dismissed various allegations against the NCCATT in April, but recommended that the state legislature review the role of the school.

The school has been a victim of inaccurate perceptions because of its affiliation with the NC Community College System, which has led some in the community, the state and the media to question its value, Lemons said.

“What we do here is similar in some ways to what happens on a community college campus, but that’s where it ends,” he said. “It’s similar. It is nothing related at all to having curriculum programs. That is not what this institution is all about.

“Some very unfair comparisons were made, because they were trying to use the same stick to measure us as they would a community college,” he added, noting that off-site training at customer facilities, which constitutes most of its courses, was not even counted in a previous state study. “They say the classrooms have to be a certain length, they have to be so many hours, etc. when you compare what we do to curriculum courses. But it’s not really an apples-to-apples comparison.”

In stressing its significance to the industry, the NCCATT has gathered testimonials and letters from numerous manufacturers, vendors, lawmakers, government personnel, state and local agencies and trade associations.

The new study, Lemons said, will allow the school to document its activities and thus prove its worth. But the study must be conducted with an open mind, he added.

“If the consultant comes down here with a blank piece of paper, on a level playing field, I think we can document what we’re doing and prove our point,” Lemons said. “If that person or that company is biased against the textile industry — and we all know the textile industry has been sacrificed in many ways by government at the state level and the federal level — and don’t think we’re a bunch of lintheads whose industry is dead, we’ll fare well. Maybe it will put this to bed forever and give us an opportunity to continue being a valuable resource for the industry.”

Textile News Index


October 11, 2004

DuPont developing protective technology

WILMINGTON, DE — DuPont announced promising research in the fight against terrorism with the development of protective materials that are resistant to chemical and biological agents.

The suits are targeted for use by U.S. soldiers, firefighters and other first responders. Early feedback from wearers has been positive, DuPont reported.

The U.S. government has awarded nearly $2.5 million to DuPont and its partners to assist in the development of this new technology. Prototype military garments were recently tested by the U.S. Army Soldier Systems Center (Natick).

Prototypes of firefighter turnout gear were shown at the recent International Association of Fire Chiefs show in New Orleans. In addition to traditional DuPont fire-resistant materials, DuPont™ Nomex® and Kevlar®, these new, lightweight suits contain a selectively permeable membrane developed by DuPont that will help protect front line defenders from toxic industrial chemicals and military warfare agents.

Textechno to acquire Lenzing Instruments

Textechno GmbH & Co. KG of Mönchengladbach, Germany, and Lenzing Technik GmbH & Co. KG of Lenzing, Austria, signed a contract on Sept. 1 for Textechno to take over Lenzing Instruments, the former division of Lenzing Technik.

All of the assets and activities of Lenzing Instruments have been transferred to a new company with the name, Lenzing Instruments GmbH & Co. KG, which will continue the business of the former Lenzing (Technik) Instruments in its entirety and keep all of their employees, the company said.

Textechno was founded as an enterprise for research and development in the field of textile testing technology by Herbert Stein in 1949.
Starting from these origins, Textchno today manufactures a broad variety of testing equipment for the textile and chemical fiber industry and is one of the market leaders in this field.

Lenzing Instruments was founded in 1965 and started its business with the production of tensile and fineness testing equipment for staple fibers. In the following years a wide range of quality testing instruments for staple fibers and filament yarns have been developed.

Wellman, Inc. to raise polyester staple price

CHARLOTTE, NC — Wellman, Inc announced that, effective with October 25 shipments, it will increase the price of all polyester staple fiber products for the apparel, home furnishings, nonwovens, industrial and fiberfill markets by 3 cents per pound. The company blamed the rising cost of polyester staple raw materials.

DAK Fibers notifies clients of price hike

CHARLOTTE, NC — DAK Fibers has begun notifying its polyester staple customers that all of its staple fiber products sold to home furnishings, apparel, industrial and fiberfill markets will be subject to a 3 cents per pound price increase, effective with shipments beginning October 25.According to Hector Camberos, CEO of DAK Americas LLC, global prices of polyester ingredients continue to rise and DAK Fibers can no longer absorb these increases in the costs of its polyester staple product line.

Polymer Group to up prices on all products

NORTH CHARLESTON, SC — Polymer Group, Inc. said Oct. 4 that it will raise prices on its products globally due to significant raw material cost increases.

Costs of polypropylene, the primary component of PGI’s spunmelt products, have risen more than 35 percent in North America since the beginning of the year and slightly more in Latin America and Asia. Polyester and rayon costs, which are broadly used in PGI products, have increased more than 15 percent and 30 percent, respectively.

Celanese Chemicals to increase prices

DALLAS — Celanese Chemicals announced that it will increase the price in North America for all Celvol Polyvinyl Alcohol grades by 7 cents per dry pound, effective November 1.

Also effective November 1, Celanese will implement a temporary freight surcharge on all Celvol Polyvinyl Alcohol orders globally.

Best Manufacturing buys American unit

JERSEY CITY, NJ — Best Manufacturing Group LLC announced that it has acquired the Image Apparel direct sale business of American Uniform Company in an equity buyout.

Based in Cleveland, TN, American Uniform provides industrial uniforms and flat goods to the linen supply and industrial uniform industry.

STR, CTC plan to create partnership in U.S.

ENFIELD, CT — Specialized Technology Resources, Inc. (STR), a consumer-product, quality-assurance testing and compliance monitoring company, announced the formation of a U.S. partnership with CTC, a leather, footwear and leather goods expert based in Lyon, France.
The partnership is an extension of a long-standing relationship between STR and CTC to provide quality assurance services and U.S. and international standards testing of footwear, gloves, luggage and leather goods.

Textile News Index

Mill Notes

October 11, 2004

WestPoint to shutter plant in NC

WEST POINT, GA — WestPoint Stevens Inc. announced Oct. 1 that it will close its Longview Plant in Hickory, NC at year end.

The plant fabricates bedding accessory products and employs about 300 people.

The closing is part of the company’s restructuring efforts as it works its way through Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

“For WestPoint Stevens to successfully compete in today’s global economy, we must follow a strategic plan to balance our domestic manufacturing and sourced products,” said M.L. “Chip” Fontenot, president and CEO. “A reduction of our domestic manufacturing will give the company greater flexibility and better-aligned capacity for competing more effectively in the world market.”

Earlier this year, the company announced plans to shutter four plants and lay off 975 employees. WestPoint closed its Fairfax greige facility in Valley, AL, and its Dixie plant in LaGrange, GA.

Delta Woodside Inds. shows loss in 4Q

GREENVILLE, SC — Delta Woodside Industries, Inc. reported a net loss of $2.9 million, or 48 cents per diluted share, for the fourth quarter, compared to a net loss of $5.2 million, or 89 cents per share, in the same period last year.

For the year, the company showed a net loss of $7.7 million, or $1.30 per share, from a loss of $4.6 million, or 79 cents, last year.

Net sales of $45.4 million represented a decrease of 6.8 percent compared to net sales of $48.7 million for the same quarter last year. The decrease was the result of a 15.8 percent reduction in unit sales partially offset by a 10.1 percent increase in average sales price, the company said.

Delta Woodside Industries registered sales of $174.4 million for the fiscal year from $177.2 million.

Textile News Index

2006 Trade Show

Organizers tout MEGATEX

October 11, 2004

By Devin Steele

GREENVILLE, SC — Organizers of the 2006 MEGATEX of the Americas textile trade show in Atlanta used the occasion of the recent American Textile Exhibition-International (ATME-I) to preview the event and establish an historical perspective and the need for change.

Moderator Joe Okey Jr. (standing), president of American Monforts, LLC, Charlotte, NC, and a board member of the American Textile Machinery Association (ATMA), introduces speakers on the dais during a press conference for the MEGATEX show. Photo by Devin Steele

During a press conference on September 15, Stephen Brooks, CEO of organizer Mack Brooks Exhibitions, said planners’ goal is to make MEGATEX a more international show under a co-located format in the “first-division” of exhibition cities. The event, set for Oct. 31-Nov. 6, 2006 at theGeorgia World Congress Center, will feature ATME-I as well as the International Fabrics Association International (IFAI) Expo, with designs on having other textile groups co-locate their exhibitions at MEGATEX.

Organization for the 2006 event is going “very well,” Brooks said, despite apprehension about the U.S. textile industry’s future and the move two hours south.

“Bookings for the event in 2006 are back to 2000-2001 levels,” he said. “What we’re seeing for 2006 among traditional exhibitors of ATME-I are they’re booking similar-sized spaces as they did here in 2000 and 2001. All the leading players, all the big names are in already, either reserved or contracted to take space. In principle, their plan is to bring a full range of working machines to the ATME-I 2006 show.”

According to a communiqué by Mack Brooks Exhibitions, latest industry statistics highlight positive trends for suppliers both inside and outside the U.S. Statistics compiled for ATMA by independent textile industry consultant Carlos Moore of AM & S Trade Services show that, despite recent challenging conditions, the U.S. industry continues to invest. For example, between 2002 and June 2004, imports into the U.S. of a wide variety of textile machinery have grown substantially, the study found.

During the same period, U.S. suppliers of textile machinery have also benefited from export growth, with a 7.5 percent jump in exports to the rest of the world, according to the report.
Holding the show in Atlanta will help the show become more “internationalized,“ Brooks said, due primarily to its accessibility for foreign visitors.

“We aim for international visitors to make up 50 percent of the total,” he said. “We’re looking to bring people from all the key markets — India, China, Turkey, Europe, etc. But of course, we still want to concentrate very much on attracting visitors from the Americas and the Caribbean.”

The newly renovated Georgia World Congress Center is four times the size of ATME-I’s former location, the Palmetto Expo Center, and specializes in hosting industrial shows with working machinery. Atlanta, which has one of the world’s busiest international airports, is an excellent international and domestic transportation hub, making it easy for visitors from throughout the Americas and the world to come to MEGATEX, Gary Spinks of the Atlanta Convention Center and Visitors Bureau, told the media.

Harry W. “Buzz” Buzzerd Jr., CAE, ATMA’s management counsel, announced during the press conference that customer associations the National Council of Textile Organizations (NCTO) and the National Textile Association (NTA) have lent their support for MEGATEX.

“Their degree of involvement will be determined,” he said. “It could be simply the affiliation of their names to the support of the events or it could be through the production of conferences, seminars or technical symposiums, or it could even be large pavilions for their members.”

The decision to co-locate its expo under the MEGATEX format more than two years ago was easy, according to Susan Larson, vice president of conference management for IFAI.

“The co-location of these two historic textile events will emphasize the importance of consolidating buyers and sellers, thus saving time and money for all involved,” she said. “The success of IFAI over the years results in our ability to adapt to what is now a diverse specialty fabrics marketplace, as well as our understanding of strategic alliances. Megatex is a reflection of those strategic alliances and our continuing commitment to the specialty fabrics industry.”

A new beginning

Last month’s ATME-I marked the end of an era with its last run in Greenville after 34 years. Preliminarily, Brooks said, “Today in a sense we’re handing off the torch from one organizer to another.”

Joe Okey Jr., president of American Monforts, LLC, Charlotte, NC, and a board member of the American Textile Machinery Association (ATMA), which owns and operates ATME-I, used the occasion to acknowledge those who made ATME-I a success in South Carolina’s Upstate through the years.

“We look forward to moving to Atlanta, but as we look ahead, we certainly don’t want to overlook the contributions of the City of Greenville and (co-sponsor) Textile Hall Corporation as we close this era. We thank you.”

Clay Tyeryar, president of ATMA, put the move of the largest textile show of the Americas into historical perspective. He indicated that ATMA’s New England-based predecessor produced a textile exhibition, the International Cotton Machinery Exhibition, in Atlanta in 1881. That single event, some textile industry historians have said, sparked the industrial revolution in the South, he said.

“Between 1881 and 1969, several exhibitions were produced throughout the North by ATMA predecessor groups and by ATMA,” he said. “Shows sprouted up as the textile industry expanded. The geographic shift of major mill production required new approaches and penetration from Europe, rooting itself in the Southeast, so ATMA moved the ATME-I to Greenville in 1969. At the time, it suited marketplace requirements.

“And in 2006, there will occur in Atlanta an ATME-I initiative, with the support of IFAI, another new beginning with MEGATEX of the Americas, 125 years after this rise of textiles in the South.”

Textile News Index

Trade association

Stevens tapped NTA chairman

October 11, 2004

COOPERSTOWN, NY — Jonathan Stevens of Ames Textile Corp. was elected chairman of the National Textile Association (NTA) during its 150th annual meeting here last month.

He succeeded William Giblin, president of Tweave, Inc.

Karl Spilhaus was re-elected president and secretary, while Henry Truslow III of Sunbury Textile Mills, Inc. was re-elected treasurer. John Emrich of Guilford Mills, Inc. was elected vice president.

Nearly 100 people attended the meeting. U.S. Representative Sherwood Boehlert (NY-24) sent a proclamation from the U.S. Congress congratulating NTA on its 150th anniversary.

Directors elected to three-year terms include John P. Bishop, Pendleton Woolen Mills; James R. Fulks, Microfibres Corp.; Roger Berkley, Weave Corp.; Earl Kramer, Concord Fabrics Inc.; Gerald J. Mauretti, Engineered Yarn Co.; and Goran B. Elovsson, George C. Moore Company.

To fulfill one-year term for director is John M. Sullivan Jr., American Silk Mills Corp.

Sunbury's Truslow gets group's Silver Medal

Henry Truslow reacts to receiving NTA's top award.

COOPERSTOWN, NY — Henry A. Truslow III (left), former chairman (1994-96) and current treasurer (1996-present) of the National Textile Association (NTA) and its predecessor organization and former president of the American Textile Manufacturers Institute, was presented NTA’s Silver Medal during the group’s 150th annual meeting here.

Truslow, president and CEO of 50-year-old Sunbury Textile Mills, Sunbury, PA, is only the fourth person bestowed this honor in the recent history of the organization.

A graduate of Yale University, he has served the textile industry for over 40 years.

Textile News Index

Pickin' Cotton

Industry: Hurricanes led to severe economic loss

October 11, 2004

By Odyll Santos

As Congress considers disaster aid for farmers affected by recent storms, the cotton industry is surveying crop damage and finding that both crop and economic losses are likely to be significant. Losses from Hurricane Jeanne are still being determined, but early estimates indicate that the three major storms — Charley, Frances and Ivan — that hit the U.S. recently will cost cotton farmers millions of dollars in damage. Cotton industry members and state agricultural sources believe that about 750,000 bales valued at more than $205 million were lost in Georgia, Alabama and Florida, according to the National Cotton Council, the Memphis, TN-based organization representing the industry.

Alabama is estimated to have lost about 275,000 bales of cotton valued at $77 million, while Georgia is seen to have lost more than 400,000 bales valued at $112 million. Losses in Florida are estimated at about 60,000 bales valued at $17 million. These estimates reflect both the lost lint and cottonseed. The NCC said the estimates, which do not reflect losses likely to be sustained from quality discounts on surviving cotton that producers manage to harvest, will be reassessed as harvest progresses.

The storms hit areas producing cotton and grain crops over a six-week period in August and September. During this period, a sizable part of the cotton crop was reaching or had reached maturity. “Producers had spent millions of dollars — from fertilization and irrigation to plant protection and defoliation— to get this crop to the harvest stage only to see it devastated by the hurricanes’ wind and rain,” said the NCC in a news release.

Georgia Agricultural Extension Economist Don Shurley contributed his assessment to the NCC, noting that Jeanne hit the same areas in Georgia with the same intensity as Frances. As producers in that state were further along in the production process, they likely suffered additional losses. Apart from the hurricane losses in Alabama, Georgia and Florida, other cotton-growing areas, such as the Carolinas and Texas, experienced losses due to drought, hail and other bad weather this season and last season.

Farmers such as Van Murphy, who raises cotton and manages gins in Quitman County, GA, noted that substantially lower crop yields are likely. With damage from Jeanne and other storms, yield losses in Lowndes, Brooks, Echols, Lanier and Cook counties could exceed $15 million. In addition, farmers are likely to see discounts as the fiber quality of the remaining cotton is expected to be lower. On his own farm, Murphy expected yields of two bales per acre, but after the storms, he is hoping for a bale an acre. “It depends on how much cotton we are going to be able to pick from what’s still hanging in the bolls,” he said. “The plants are all entangled. When the picker separates those plants, a lot of the cotton will come loose and fall to the ground.”

Jerry Davis, who has farmed cotton and other crops in southern Alabama and the Florida Panhandle since 1984, said that before the storms, county agents told him his fields would likely produce 1,000 pounds of cotton, or more than two bales, per acre. Now, he expects to harvest 300 to 400 pounds per acre from the surviving cotton in the fields and faces a $600,000 loss.

Farmers are waiting for help from Congress. In the last week of September, the NCC and 22 other farm groups asked legislators to support aid for farmers hit by weather-related disasters. They urged legislators to support the bipartisan amendment passed in the Senate fiscal year 2005 homeland security appropriations, which would provide emergency disaster assistance to crop and livestock producers who suffered losses in 2003 and 2004 due to natural disasters.

In many areas, multiple years of weather related disasters have decimated row crops and forage and have reduced water supplies available for livestock,” the groups said in a letter sent to Senate and House Homeland Security appropriations subcommittee members and the chairmen and ranking members of the House and Senate appropriations committees. “In other regions, farmers are experiencing crop destruction and reduced yields and quality due to flooding and an increased incidence of crop pests and diseases. Financial assistance is needed now if the economic ruin of farms, ranches and rural businesses is to be averted.”

As September ended, press reports said that Senate Appropriations Chairman Ted Stevens, R-AK, had indicated that Homeland Security appropriations for fiscal year 2005 would be completed early this month, along with an accompanying package of supplemental aid for hurricanes and other disasters.

Textile News Index


October 11, 2004

Elections: A ball of confusion

WITH DEBATE SEASON in full stride, do you find yourself more confused than ever? Are you still debating which candidate in each political race will best serve the interests of you and your family? If so, that’s understandable. Why, who wouldn’t be thoroughly befuddled after months of mudslinging, rhetoric and cross-my-heart-and-hope-to-die promise-making? After awhile, the TV face-offs, advertisements and sound bites begin to ring hollow, the billboards, yard signs and bumper stickers begin to look fuzzy. As voters, we’re irked, irate and tired.

And ready to pull the lever.

So they will all go away. Or go to work, as the case may be. (Just get out of our faces.)

But for whom do we vote? With election day less than three weeks away, many of us have yet to choose favorites in all races. Often, distinguishing between candidates is difficult — often an intended result by candidates who’ve spent much of their time distancing themselves from their left or right leanings. And we begin to wonder if these office seekers aren’t running on the centrist ticket.

FOR THOSE OF YOU in the textile and broader manufacturing industry, the choices are perhaps more muddled. Traditionally, at least in the South, most folks with manufacturing interests lean Republican. But you’ve begun to rethink long-held positions as you’ve seen and, in many cases, felt your employment base shrink substantially under the Bush Administration. You’ve seen trade promotion authority become a reality; a number of often-one-sided trade agreements expeditiously pushed through Congress; and communist China enter the World Trade Organization and subsequently continue to play by its own rules while ramping up export production.

Still, even with your livelihoods (those of you still in business) being threatened, you find yourselves torn in the presidential election. And who wouldn’t be? After all, after 9-11, homeland security has become the defining issue of this campaign, with everything else being ancillary. With Bush, there’s no question where he stands on the issue. You know that when his feet hits the floor every morning, fighting terrorism is the first thing on his mind. With Kerry, well, it seems we’ll need some sort of “global test” to protect our security. The Massachusetts senator, of course, has already back-pedaled on that statement, so who knows where he really stands?

Determining which candidate will do a better job protecting your economic interests is more difficult, perhaps. To the national electorate, trade does not played a major role as a determinative issue. But to you, and in many battleground states that have been stung by job erosion, it may be the make-or-break issue come November 2.

ASIDE FROM THE presidential race, voters in the job-shrunk Carolinas face similar conundrum in Senate races, with Jim DeMint and Inez Tenenbaum duking it out in South Carolina and Erskine Bowles and Richard Burr going at it in North Carolina. Each of these races has become nasty, with jobs and trade platforms having emerging as key issues.

The textile industry coalition this month launched a grassroots campaign in North Carolina aimed at educating its employees, as well as the larger public, on the issue of trade policy. Its message of fixing “broken” U.S. trade policy will be carried on 48 billboards in at least 32 communities across the state. But will it make a difference to the general populace in North Carolina?

In races across America, the decision is hardly clear, at least to thousands of undecideds. Sadly, many voters will enter the polls to pull either a straight ticket or make their choices based on Q-rating — favoring the most charming, the better looking, or the smoothest talker.

That sort of stuff happens when candidates aren’t able to differentiate themselves on the issues, which only adds to our confusion.

Textile News Index