Bale Packaging

Standards, specifications, and updates.

Specifications for Cotton Bale Packaging Materials
Approved by the Joint Cotton Industry Bale Packaging Committee (JCIBPC), these specifications are intended for use as manufacturing guidelines, and are designed to improve the quality and protection of the cotton bale and to improve the appearance and marketability of the American cotton bale in domestic and foreign markets.

Specifications for Permanent Bale Identification Bale Tags
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. This document is intended to provide you with the details of the PBI system as well as define AMS requirements for the Classing Identification Coupon, which accompanies the tag placed on the bale by the gin.

Guide to Cotton Bale Standards
A guide to bale conditions which are considered acceptable to receiving warehouses and textile mills.

NCC Policy Language in Response to Bale Stickers
NCC response to any requests of additional stickers on a bale outside of normal business/logistics requirements.

Best Management Practices to Reduce Contamination During Bale Opening in a Mill
New educational material has been developed to assist mills and manufacturers in deploying industry best practices to help reduce the introduction of contamination in cotton when removing bale packaging.  Proper cutting, safety and housekeeping procedures are important to keep employees safe and reduce the risk of contamination in the cotton.

2023 Notice Reiterates the Importance of Correct Reporting of Tare Weights and Bagging and Tie Code Combinations on Electronic Warehouse Receipts
The NCC is concerned that instances of misreported bagging and tie code combinations on electronic warehouse receipts have been increasing over the last several crop years. USDA requires gins to include bag and tie codes when they send bale data to warehouses, and warehouses are required to include bag and tie codes on all warehouse receipts; having correct tare weights are also equally as important.

Global Bale Packaging Mill Survey
Results are available from a 2020 Global Bale Packaging Mill Survey, conducted in cooperation with Cotton Council International. The survey asked mills for their preferences of bale bagging and strapping, bale patching material, tagging materials, bale head closure practices, and recyclability/sustainability. Input regarding their experience with contamination was also included.

2022 Memo Reiterates Importance of Elimination of Mismatched PBI Tags, AMS Sample Coupons
Instances of mismatched PBI tags and sample coupons have continued to increase despite a comprehensive communications effort conducted by the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service, Cotton and Tobacco Program (AMS), the National Cotton Council and others. The AMS document, "Sampling and Tagging Procedures," provides an overview of techniques for sampling practices.

Managing PBI Tag Placement and AMS Sample Coupons
Describes unacceptable PBI practices and ways to avoid AMS sample coupon and PBI tag mismatches.

Permanent Bale ID Tag Numbering System
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.

Form for Reporting Bale Packaging Performance
NCC policy the NCC to provide " for the development and industry wide use of a comprehensive reporting form that documents bale tie and bag performance."

U.S. Cotton Bale Dimensions
Description and characteristics of a typical U.S. gin universal density cotton bale.

Bale Weight Management
In 2003, the National Cotton Council, the Memphis Cotton Exchange and the National Cotton Ginners' Association, as well as state and regional ginner associations in the Mid-South and the Southeast, created a "Bale Weight Management" brochure. Because light and heavy weight bales still are a concern, though, the informational brochure was updated and can be viewed by clicking the link above.

Analysis of Cotton Bale Tie Failures: A User's Guide
A systematic guide to determine the cause of bale tie failures, provided by USDA-ARS Ginning Labratory.

Bale Packaging: Eliminating Broken Bale Ties
Describes the four main factors that lead to tie breakage on Gin UD bales. Description and characteristics of a typical U.S. gin universal density cotton bale.

Pest-Free U.S. Cotton Through Control, Ginning and Compression
The research summarized by Ed Hughs in his presentation to a group of Ecuadorian phytosanitary officials highlights information that was critical to decisions that allowed unrestricted cotton bale movement and at the same time protected producer and federal investments in boll weevil and pink bollworm eradication programs.

JCIBPC Lists of Approved Manufacturers

These lists are published in accordance with the guidelines in the Specifications for Cotton Bale Packaging Materials.

2024 Bale Packaging Committee Approves Specifications and Hang-Tag Phase Out

At its annual meeting in Memphis, the Joint Cotton Industry Bale Packaging Committee (JCIBPC), chaired by Chris Berry, a Wellman, TX ginner, approved the updated 2024 Bale Packaging Specifications and set a sunset date for paper PBI hang tags. No test programs were requested for 2024 season.

The committee determined hanging PBI bale tags that use small gauge wire or zip ties are to be removed as an approved product from the specifications after the 2024 crop year. The Council will be sending notice of this phase out to all U.S. gins and tagging manufacturer companies.

Views of Raw Cotton Interests and Others on the Elimination of the Use of Wire Ties

The JCIBPC Wire Tie Report page contains links to the JCIBPC Chairman's memo, the wire tie report and appendices for the wire tie report. (You must be logged in as an NCC member to view the linked page and its content.)

USDA Form CCC-809 and Approved Packaging Materials

A JCIBPC memo to ginners reminded them of their obligation to only use approved packaging materials. This memo was in response to an email that is in the files of USDA state price support specialists informing them "…that cotton gins must submit CCC-809, Cooperating Ginner's Bagging and Bale Ties Certification and Agreement for their cotton to be eligible as collateral for a CCC loan. CCC-809 is a multi-year agreement that, once filed, remains in effect until terminated by CCC or the gin."