Fashion Intel & Analysis

            The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) will issue a rule in the coming weeks that addresses how components of children’s apparel, such as zippers and snaps, should be tested for lead content. In the meantime, the CPSC will vote October 21 on a policy paper that offers interim guidance on how these components could be tested.

 

            In a public meeting today, CPSC staff said the statement of policy “anticipates” the pending rule on component testing, and presumes that only the components that require testing need to be tested. As examples, staff said in the case of a coat, the fabric would not need to be tested because textiles have already been exempted, although the lead content of a zipper pull and zipper teeth would need to be tested. Similarly, for a book with a cardboard cover, paper pages and metal spiral binding, only the spiral binding would have to be tested.

 

            The CPSC in August approved a rule that identified children’s products that do not need to be tested for lead. These included textile materials, dyes and most pigments, and natural and manmade fibers. But many complete garments that include buttons, snaps and other adornments are not fully exempt from testing because of the need to test other components.

 

 

 

 

            Staff said at the hearing today that the policy paper to be considered on October 21 will also offer more guidance about the August rule. They said one unanswered question is which party is responsible for testing for lead content on these components, and suggested that discussions are ongoing about whether the importer, supplier or some other party would be responsible.

 

            Yesterday, a Federal District Court judge denied a request by handbag company owner Frederic Bourke to overturn his conviction and obtain a new trial.  As we reported in July, Bourke was found guilty of conspiring to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. He faces up to ten years in prison. Sentencing is now scheduled for November 10.

 
            In his motion for acquittal or a new trial, Bourke argued, among other things, that the court made a mistake by allowing the jury to convict him of conspiracy if all he did was stick his head in the sand. But in her opinion rejecting his acquittal or retrial request, the judge said it was correct for the jury to convict him if he stuck his head in the sand to avoid knowing facts he should have known. The test was not Bourke's actual knowledge of bribes by his business partner, but his efforts to avoid acquiring that actual knowledge.



            Today is the first day importers can vote on a referendum on whether to amend Cotton Research and Promotion program rules to give Kansas, Virginia and Florida each their own vote on the Cotton Board.  Treating these three small cotton producing states as separate seats, instead of the single seat that they have held, would increase the number of producer members on the Cotton Board to 26 from 23.  The number of importer members would remain unchanged, at 15, even though imports currently account for 48 percent of the revenues collected for the Cotton promotion program.

 

USA-ITA strongly urges member companies to vote on this referendum. Indications are that some of the other cotton producing states are not enthused about these very small producer states getting their own seats on the Cotton Board because it will dilute the votes of the larger producer states who account for far larger quantities of cotton production. Therefore, votes by importers against the amendment, combined with votes from these producers, could make a difference.

 

USDA mailed the ballot out to known cotton importers, but there is no guarantee that they are addressed to an appropriate person within each organization.  You can use the ballot attached to this email or download one from:

 http://www.ams.usda.gov/AMSv1.0/ams.search.do?q=ballot&x=9&y=14.

 

            In addition to filling out both sections of the ballot, importers also must include with their ballot a copy of a Form 7501 for a calendar year 2008 entry of a cotton containing product (which will show payment of the cotton fee or assessment).  The 7501 is essential to prove your eligibility to vote.

 

Ballots must be mailed to the address in bold at the top of the ballot form -- USDA, FSA, DAFO, PO Box 23704, Washington, DC 20026-3704, in time to be received by USDA by November 10.

The U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) has announced that it expects to issue its report on imports entering under the first sale valuation program as soon as December 23, earlier than originally planned.  The report by the USITC is required by a provision under the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008.  The Congress ordered U.S. Customs and Border Protection to collect data from importers, over a one year period, to identify whether they valued their goods based upon the first sale rule, and to turn that information over to the USITC.  The USITC is  preparing a report for the House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee analyzing the data.  The 2008 legislation also barred CBP from pursuing a proposal to eliminate the first sale valuation rule at least until 2011. 

 

According to the USITC announcement, the agency anticipates that the report it sends to the Committees will be made available to the public in its entirety.

 

           

From October 13 through November 10, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) will hold a referendum on whether to treat Kansas, Virginia and Florida each as separate cotton-producing states, a move that will further dilute cotton importers’ influence on the Cotton Board, which oversees the Cotton Research and Promotion Program.

 

            The three states are currently grouped together for purposes of representation on the Cotton Board because each state produces a fairly small quantity of cotton per year.  Under the law that created the cotton program, each cotton producing state, or group of states where production is small, gets at least one representative plus one additional representative for each 1 million bales or major fraction (more than half) thereof of cotton produced.  However, as part of the 2008 Farm Bill, Congress authorized giving Kansas, Virginia and Florida their own individual representatives on the Cotton Board.  This was proposed even though Florida produced only 106,000 bales, Kansas produced 53,500 bales, and Virginia produced just under 100,000 bales in the most recent year.

 

            Treating the states separately would expand producer membership on the Cotton Board by three. Today, there are 23 producer members, 15 importer members and one consumer advisory.  The changes being proposed would increase the number of producer members to 26.   Importers currently account for 48 percent of the fees collected under the cotton program; the number of seats that can be held by the importers is subject to adjustment based upon a rolling five year average of the fees paid.  While the importer fee collections have increased over time and the number of seats held by importers have gradually increased, Congress has acted to ensure that producers continue to account for the majority of seats by legislating that even small producer states should have separate seats.

 

            A referendum on the change is still required for it to be implemented, so importers do have some chance of defeating it.  USDA says it will mail the ballot to all importers, but, as has been the case in the past, the ballot may or may not reach the appropriate person in each organization.  Importers also should be able to access the necessary voting forms via the internet, at http://www.ams.usda.gov/Cotton., so they don’t have to wait to see if it is received by the right person.   Importers must mail their ballots to:

 

            USDA, FSA, DAFO

            PO Box 23704

            Washington, DC 20026-3704