Permanent Bale ID Tag Update

The cotton industry has developed a Permanent Bale Identification (PBI) system that enables a unique number and standard barcode to accompany a bale of cotton from the gin to the textile mill. The success of the PBI system is based on the principle that all numbers will be unique across multiple years. Even though you can repeat your numbering series after five years, it is a better business practice to continue adding unused PBI numbers to your series.

Published: July 9, 2002
Updated: March 30, 2017

The primary component of the Permanent Bale Identification (PBI) system is the identification number. This identifier is a 12-digit number displayed on the tag in both eye-readable and barcode formats. The first numbers, a 5-digit component, is the gin code, which is assigned by USDA. The following number, a 7-digit component, is the bale number, which is assigned by the gin (or in some cases, by the warehouse).

The success of the PBI system is based on the principle that all numbers will be unique across multiple years. Even though USDA-AMS monitors PBI numbers to ensure that there are no duplicates, it is important to remember that there really is no practical need to repeat PBI numbers. The 12-digit identifier enables every bale to have a unique number across multiple years and allows for 10 million bales to be identified before a gin would need to repeat any number.

NOTICE
Gin bale numbers used in 2014 will not be able to be used before the year 2019.
Gin bale numbers used in 2015 will not be able to be used before the year 2020.
Gin bale numbers used in 2016 will not be able to be used before the year 2021.
Gin bale numbers used in 2017 will not be able to be used before the year 2022.

Additionally, and most importantly, if numbers are repeated after the specified five-year period, there is a risk of limiting an operation to its previously used numbers, and, therefore, limiting its annual production. This may prove to be too restrictive for your operation. The following is an example of the preferred bale number sequences for the ginning seasons beyond the fifth year:

CROP YEAR

YR

Tag Numbers Used

Production
(in bales)

2014 1 0000001 – 0020000 20,000
2015 2 0020001 – 0035000 15,000
2016 3

KEEP GOING!
0035001 – 0059000

24,000
2017 4 0059001 - 089000 30,000
2018 5 089001 - 0129000 40,000
2019 6 0129001 - 0145000 50,000

Repeating previously used numbers introduces the potential of duplicating active PBI numbers. In the above example, if a gin repeated their 2014 PBI numbers in 2016, its allowable PBI numbers would be limited to 20,000 bales (its 2014 volume) because it would not be able to safely use the previous year's PBI numbers.

Even though an operation can repeat its numbering series after five years, it is a better business practice to continue the PBI numbering sequence from the previous year, as shown in the above example. USDA-AMS is continuing to enforce compliance with PBI tag requirements. If they determine that a duplicate bale number exists, they will require the gin to correct the problem before classing services can be delivered.