Senators Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) and Mark Warner (D-Va.) recently led a bipartisan push requesting the cotton and textile industries be considered in the next round of COVID-19 assistance in a letter that was sent to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y).
In the letter, the senators stated: “Across the agricultural sectors, the U.S. cotton and textile industry is particularly hard hit as the COVID-19 pandemic is causing unprecedented demand destruction for cotton apparel and textiles. Billions of dollars of orders have been cancelled as retail shopping outlets remain closed or operate at reduced capacity. The collapse in cotton demand is being felt across the U.S. cotton industry from textile manufacturers to merchandisers to cotton producers, and all segments in between. The viability of the farms and businesses, and the jobs they represent, are at risk of not surviving this crisis.
“When Congress considers additional relief efforts in response to COVID-19, we believe any package should ensure USDA’s next round of agricultural assistance will adequately address the magnitude of the losses felt throughout the cotton supply chain by cotton farmers and include critical relief for textile mills and the cotton merchandising segment, all of which are facing unprecedented economic losses,” the Senators continued.
The letter contained data illustrating the devastating drop in clothing sales — down $44 billion or 67 percent, relative to the same three-month period in 2019 — a 90-percent drop in orders for yarns, and a loss of monthly yarn production value of $200 to $300 million. The drop in yarn production corresponds to a reduction in cotton consumption, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture has lowered its estimates of global mill use for this year and next by 23 million bales, which is valued at almost $8 billion. Cotton exports also are down, which results in additional carrying costs for the cotton industry such as storage, interest, insurance and freight costs associated with destination displacement.
The senators concluded their letter by saying, “We want to work closely with you and our other colleagues to ensure adequate relief for the U.S. cotton industry so that this critical industry receives the necessary assistance for all segments to survive and recover.”
Other Senators who joined Tillis and Warner in sending the letter were: Dr. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Doug Jones (D-Ala.), Richard Burr (R-N.C.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Martha McSally (R-Ariz.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.), Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Tim Scott (R-S.C.), and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.).