WASHINGTON — The Senate passed a $500 billion farm, nutrition and conservation bill Thursday that could have significant implications for many segments of the fashion industry.
The legislation, which passed 64 to 35 and broadly implements farm safety net policies and conservation and food stamp programs over the next five years, seeks to bring U.S. cotton programs in line with World Trade Organization requirements and address a dispute over cotton subsidies with Brazil. It would also continue federal funding through 2017 for a program supporting U.S. textile mills that use domestic and imported cotton.
Under the “Economic Assistance Adjustment” program, the government gives U.S. textile mills 3 cents a pound of domestic or imported upland cotton they use, as long as the money is invested in acquiring, modernizing or expanding land, plants, buildings or equipment.
“This is a capital investment program that creates jobs,” said Sarah Pierce, senior vice president at the National Council of Textile Organizations. “It helps our producers become more efficient and allows them to hire more workers and open more plants.”
A crucial aspect of the legislation is whether it brings into compliance federal cotton subsidy programs that were found to violate WTO rules in a case brought by Brazil dating back to 2002. Brazil has maintained that U.S. cotton subsidies depress global cotton prices. The WTO sided with Brazil and issued a series of findings between 2005 and 2008. The WTO subsequently authorized Brazil to impose sanctions against U.S. exports, ruling the U.S. failed to adequately end cotton subsidies. However, the U.S. and Brazil reached an agreement in June 2011 that forestalled the imposition of sanctions on U.S. exports until this year, when Congress is set to pass a new farm bill that sets federal farm safety net programs.
Under the agreement, which averted $800 million in sanctions, the U.S. agreed to make some changes in its cotton export and credit guarantee program, and to work with Brazil to establish a $147.3 million fund to provide technical assistance and capacity building for the Brazilian cotton industry. Brazil has identified a list of U.S. exports it would sanction, including raw cotton, woven fabric, cotton pants and shorts, and some jewelry and beauty products. The agreement was understood to hinge on Congress making changes to cotton programs to bring them into compliance with the WTO findings.
Terry Townsend, executive director of the International Cotton Advisory Committee, said the Senate bill seeks to establish a new insurance program for cotton farmers, with the federal government covering a percentage of a policy’s premium, eliminate countercyclical payments and modify the export credit guarantee program.
Roberto Azevedo, Brazil’s ambassador to the WTO, said he expects the U.S. to claim the final farm bill legislation complies with its obligations under the WTO.
“Therefore, it’s absolutely critical for resolution of the [cotton] dispute,” Azevedo said. “What Brazil would have to assess is if it fully complies or not.”
“As required under the U.S.-Brazil Cotton Framework Agreement, we continue to work with Congress as it makes changes in the next farm bill to the cotton domestic support and export credit [guarantee] programs to reach a mutually agreed solution with Brazil,” said Carol J. Guthrie, assistant U.S. Trade Representative for public and media affairs. “Payments to Brazil for cotton capacity building and development projects, totaling $147.3 million a year are expected to continue until the next Farm Bill.”
The House must still pass its own version of the farm bill, which will likely differ from the Senate’s legislation, and have to be reconciled in conference.
The annual Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic in Pacific Palisades this weekend drew Kate Hudson, Tracee Ellis Ross, Laura Dern and more. See pictures of the star-studded event on WWD.com. (📷: @chelsealaurenla) #wwdeye
In his new book “Hollywood Royale,” Andy Warhol’s Protégé Matthew Rolston celebrates the Eighties revival of Hollywood glamour. Featuring more than 100 portraits taken by Rolston from 1977 to 1993, the book contains photos of icons like Michael Jackson, Cyndi Lauper, and @drewbarrymore, pictured here in 1991. “Hollywood Royale,” out today, will be accompanied by an exhibition opening at Los Angeles’ Fahey/Klein Gallery on March 1. #wwdeye
"Nowadays when life is not so happy with everything going on in the world, I think people come to me for a little bit of whimsy and color and fun." - Designer Rebecca De Ravenel on her cult-favorite jewelry line. (📸 : @vsteves) #wwd40
“Everyone is talking about how the retail industry is struggling, but I think it’s an incredible time because brands who are doing something different and innovative are setting themselves up for the future,” said @adamgoldston, who founded the luxury athletic brand @apl with his brother @ryangoldsten. The Goldston’s are part of WWD’s 40 under 40: a group of industry notables. See the rest of the list on WWD.com. (📷: @vsteves) #wwd40
@eyeswoon blogger Athena Calderone debuted her first-ever cookbook, “Cook Beautiful,” which is heavily centered on the presentation and visual expression of food. Pictured here are her miso glazed carrots from the book. Get the recipe on WWD.com. (📷: @johnny_miller_) #wwdeye
“It’s passion that helps get anybody to a certain point and it’s what’s propelled me,” said Kith founder @ronniefieg, one of WWD’s 40 under 40: a group of industry notables who are changing the face of retail, fashion and beauty. Fieg, who opened a Manhattan flagship on October 7, began his career at age 13 as a stock boy and salesman for footwear chain David Z. “I think staying true to [my] beliefs, hard work and passion have gotten me to where [Kith] is today.” See the rest of the 40 at WWD.com. (📷: @vsteves) #wwd40
25-year-old @samweaving is about to break out this fall, starring in Netflix’s horror film “The Babysitter,” fittingly out today on Friday the 13th. That’s not the only place you’ll be seeing her, though — Weaving’s got a role Showtime’s “SMILF” and another alongside Frances McDormand and Woody Harrelson in “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.” Though she’s got a full plate at the moment, there’s one role she’s got her eye on: Marilyn Monroe. “I’m a little too young at the moment, but it’s on my bucket list,” the actress told WWD (📷: @dandoperalski) #wwdeye
BFF's Poppy Jamie and Suki Waterhouse celebrated the launch of their bag line Pop x Suki at Nordstrom last night. "The line is really about our friendship, and how we are so different but complement each other," said Waterhouse. 👯 (📷: Katie Jones) #wwdeye
After designing the new @louisvuitton and @bulgariofficial flagships and a @chanelofficial boutique opening in Japan, @petermarinoarchitect has another project on his plate: The Lobster Club. Located in the Seagram Building, it’s the famed architect’s first restaurant project in New York, serving up modern Japanese brasserie-style cuisine. Bronze hues, bespoke material detailing, blush and chartreuse tones and a heavy emphasis on Picasso can be seen throughout. Mark your calendars for Nov. 1 for the much-anticipated opening. (📷: @clint_spaulding) #wwdeye