Last week, officials with the Food and Drug Administration came to visit a gin and farm in Alabama to see for themselves the cotton harvest and storage of cottonseed. In 2015 the FDA finalized rules that will be phased in over the next few years that have the potential to put onerous regulations on the storage of cottonseed at the gin level.
While storage of raw agricultural commodities for distribution is exempt, FDA had singled cotton gins out as processing the seed. The ginning industry had argued that the storage of seed was no different the storage of any other RAC like corn or beans in a country elevator. In those discussions, we offered to take the FDA officials on a tour of a gin at their convenience. That tour took place last week in the Tennessee Valley area of Alabama.
Dr. Stephen Ostroff, and Jennifer Erickson with FDA in Washington along with Regional Director Steven Barber visited Cotton Producers Coop gin in Tuscumbia, AL along with their bale cotton warehouse. The group also went to Isbell Farms elevator in Cherokee and to observe the harvest but weather prevented picking the day of the tour. Nonetheless, the group saw a picker, a round module, cotton on the stalk and how the picker works. The location also had an elevator where the Isbell’s handle grain being harvested if it can’t get to the port.
Also on the tour were National Cotton Ginners Exec. Harrison Ashley, NCC Staff Steve Hensley and Jim Davis, Texas Cotton Ginners Director of Technical Services Kelley Green and Jennifer Groover with Congressman Aderholt’s office in Washington.
The group had done their homework but all said that seeing it in person is makes the videos, and papers they had read and seen make much more sense. We feel the tour was a success but we won’t know for sure unless the FDA makes some changes to their rules and interpretations to allow gins to be treated the same as a country elevator.
More to come I’m sure.
A special THANK YOU to Shane Isbell, Neal Isbell, Sam Spruell, and Steve Sterling for hosting our tour.