The U.S. cotton industry is locked in a global tug-of-war – China on the left side of the rope, a mud bath in the middle, and many other fiber-producing countries on the right.

Despite the odds, China has the upper hand.

Three of the nation’s cotton leaders shared their latest views on the key challenges facing the U.S. and global cotton industries during the Arizona Cotton Industry Meeting held in Flagstaff, Ariz. in June.

Sharing the podium was: Jarral Neeper, president and chief executive officer (CEO) of the Calcot Limited cotton cooperative; Wally Darneille, board chairman for the National Cotton Council (NCC), and Gary Adams, NCC agricultural economist.

Neeper, based in Bakersfield, Calif., says the worldwide cotton industry is at a crossroads with China clearly behind the steering wheel.

For the last three years, the Chinese government has stockpiled cotton in a failed effort to support domestic grower prices. China, the world’s largest cotton producer, has nearly 60 million bales in storage; the bulk of it in government reserves.

“The problem lurking for the world cotton industry is how China will reduce its stocks – how quickly and under what circumstances,” Neeper said.