A National Cotton Council leadership team is visiting China to see its cotton industry development and continue building a relationship with U.S. cotton’s No. 1 customer.

NCC Vice Chairman Jay Hardwick, a Newellton, La., producer, is leading the delegation, which includes producers John Lindamood, Tiptonville, Tenn.; C.B. “Chuck” Coley, Vienna, Ga.; and Eddie Smith, Floydada, Texas; along with cooperative official Jarral Neeper, Bakersfield, Calif.; warehousemen Trent Felton, Marianna, Ark.; and Dean Church, Lubbock, Texas; as well as ginner Sid Brough, Edroy, Texas; and merchant Cameron Austin, Dallas, Texas.

Gary Adams, NCC’s vice president for economics and policy analysis, will accompany the group.

“This visit continues a healthy dialogue and interaction between the U.S. and Chinese cotton industries,” Hardwick said. “Learning more about China’s cotton infrastructure, its standards, marketing practices, policies and their overall raw cotton needs will be invaluable in helping U.S. cotton continue to supply the type of fiber and service this rapidly growing country requires. Acquiring this in-depth understanding is essential to ensuring our industry’s competitiveness in today’s global marketplace.”

This visit will build on previous China cotton industry familiarization trips by U.S. cotton leaders, including a fact-finding effort in October 2006 and a June 2007 mission in which U.S. cotton leaders and USDA officials updated Chinese cotton industry officials and mill buyers on U.S. cotton quality.

The visits are part of the U.S.-China Cotton Leadership Exchange Program established by the NCC and the Chinese Cotton Association (CCA) in 2006. The visits are in accordance with a subsequent signed “Memorandum of Understanding” between the NCC and CCA that promised cooperation between the countries’ cotton industries.

Among stops on the 2008 U.S. delegation tour will be a genetic engineering laboratory at the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences in Beijing; seed field trials and a meeting with farmers in Hebei Province; the Huafu Yarn Mill and a seminar with merchants and textile manufacturers in Zhejing Province; and the Wuxi No. 1 Cotton Mill and warehouses/consignment stocks in Jiangsu Province.

The tour was coordinated by Cotton Council International, the NCC’s export promotions arm.