Washington is a busy place. Every day, Congress and dozens of federal entities are making, implementing and enforcing policies on innumerable matters that affect U.S. textile jobs and trade. While some issues are broad and easy to understand, others are highly technical, if not arcane.
The National Council of Textile Organizations (NCTO) is structured into four governing councils — Fiber, Yarn, Fabric & Home Furnishings, and Industry Support — to help the U.S. textile supply chain form a consensus and speak with one voice on policy matters affecting the sector.
When the United States enacts new laws or federal agencies make administrative rule changes, some issues recur so often or are so complex that NCTO has formed special standing committees to complement its four-council structure. These committees inspire vibrant inter-council exchanges of expertise and ideas that enable member companies to better understand and influence policies affecting everything from cotton consumption to government procurement and flammability standards to customs rules. With technical input from all sectors of the supply chain, NCTO’s committees can vet policies even more rigorously than its councils. By harnessing expertise and fostering more robust policy deliberations, NCTO’s committee systems helps NCTO’s four councils make better-informed decisions while serving as a unifying force for the U.S. textile industry. For more information on how NCTO’s four standing committees benefit the industry and consumers, check out the following profiles.
The single biggest customer for the U.S. textile and apparel supply chain is the U.S. government. The Department of Defense (DOD) alone purchases more than 8,000 different textile items for use by the U.S. military and other allied organizations, and this figure rises to more than 31,000 line items when individual sizes are factored into the item mix. Including DOD purchases, the U.S. government routinely spends more than $2 billion annually on textiles and clothing.
NCTO’s Government Textiles Committee, chaired by Nick Pence, director of Materials and Trims for Baltimore, Md.-based Under Armour, connects member companies from all points in the U.S. textile supply chain. Together, these companies oversee issues related to all facets of government procurement, including preservation and expansion of the Berry Amendment, contracting matters, and liaison with other organizations and government contracting agencies.
“As a U.S. Army Ranger, I know when equipment fails in action, lives can be endangered,” Pence said. “American-made military textiles and clothing are world-class. Knowing that gives warfighters added confidence going into a mission.
… America’s security depends on our military having guaranteed access to high-quality, innovative textile materials, apparel, and personal equipment made at home.”
Under the law known as the Berry Amendment (10 USC 2533a), most textiles and clothing purchased by the U.S. military are required to contain 100 percent U.S.-made fibers, yarns, and fabrics. Additionally, those textile and clothing goods must be cut and assembled in the United States.
In recent years, attempts have been made during consideration of the annual National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to weaken sourcing requirements for some products — including textiles, apparel, and footwear — covered under the Berry Amendment. NCTO has strongly opposed efforts to undermine the integrity of Berry and other “buy American” preference laws.
Besides supporting domestic preferences, NCTO’s Government Textiles Committee works closely with the Defense Logistics Agency, the U.S. Army Natick Soldier Systems Center, Program Executive Office (PEO) Soldier and other entities to proactively anticipate the services’ future textile and clothing needs and develop the next generation of military textiles.
“Still, meeting those needs requires careful planning,” Pence said. “For example, if the services say they require 200,000 ballistic-resistant armor plate vests next year, someone must produce the fiber and/or yarn, weave the fabric, dye and finish the fabric, and finally cut and sew it before a finished product can be shipped to the troops.”
“NCTO wants to make sure upstream suppliers are making today what the military’s downstream customers will be needing tomorrow; if a key input is out of stock, production can be delayed for weeks,” Pence said.
The most commonly used natural fiber in textiles is cotton, a highly preferred fiber choice for jeans, shirts, bedding and other products because it is soft, absorbent, breathable and does not retain odors.
According to the National Cotton Council of America (NCC), U.S. farmers grew 20.9 million bales of cotton in 2017. Net domestic consumption of the fiber totaled an estimated 17.7 million bales, including 3.2 million bales by domestic yarn spinners.
“NCTO’s Cotton Committee brings together cooperatives, brokers, shippers, yarn spinners, and fabric knitters and weavers to oversee all policy matters pertaining to the cotton textile supply chain,” said Cotton Committee chairman Anderson D. Warlick, chairman and CEO of Gastonia, N.C.-based Parkdale.
These issues include the Farm Bill, fiber quality, contamination, manufacturing, trade agreements, and relations with U.S. Department of Agriculture and cotton organizations like the NCC and the American Cotton Shippers Association. “The Farm Bill is especially important,” Warlick said.
Other areas where NCTO tries to coordinate with others include occupational safety and health matters, (OSHA) and motor freight regulations to encourage the safe and reasonable transport of products.
Finally, NCTO also liaises closely with ASTM International and the American Association of Textile Chemists and Colorists (AATCC) to establish test methods for textile abrasion, tensile and tearing strength, and wet processing methods like water repellency, among other performance attributes.
“In practice, the only way to make sure a product performs in the field the same way it was designed to do on the drawing board is to test it,” Booterbaugh said. “While testing can be expensive and time-consuming, it ensures textile companies will be able to market performance benefits to the consumer with confidence derived from rigorous scientific data.”
For more information visit: https://www.textileworld.com