The 2011 crop year bale packaging specifications adopted by the NCC Joint Cotton Industry Bale Packaging Committee were approved by USDA for Commodity Credit Corp. (CCC) loan program purposes.

New for 2011 is a marking requirement for polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic strapping strap and an adjustment in the tare weights table for six-wire ties when combined with polyethylene (PE) film bagging. Beginning with the 2011 crop, the strap manufacturer's name or trademark must be printed or embossed on every 36 inches of strapping. The new marking requirement for PET strapping matches the existing requirement for approved steel strap. Use of only properly marked PET strap is required for 2011 and continued use of non-marked PET strap is disallowed once existing stocks are depleted. This was confirmed in the following policy: “bale packaging materials carried over from the previous year, which were eligible for packaging 2010 crop cotton, may be used to package the current crop of cotton.”

The other change, the adjustment in the tare weights table, also will be implemented with the beginning of the 2011 ginning season. The CCC will use the 2010 tare weights table for calculating cotton loans until May 31, the deadline for 2010–2011 crop year loans. After that date, USDA will update its cotton loan software to accommodate the one pound tare weight adjustment.

Before the 2011 harvesting and ginning season begins, gins, warehouses and others using the bale packaging materials official tare weights table are urged to make sure their software providers are aware of the tare weight revision for six-wire ties when combined with polyethylene (PE) film bagging. Software that calculates bale weights from the tare weights table will require updating.

The 2010 specifications on the NCC’s website have been replaced with the 2011 specifications following notification by USDA that the revised bale packaging specifications have been approved. County Farm Service Agency offices, other federal agencies and anyone else needing bale packaging specifications for current or previous years may view and download them from the NCC’s website at www.cotton.org/tech/bale/specs/index.cfm.