Earlier this week, the Georgia Cotton Commission, and 66 other cotton industry organizations from across the many segments of the industry and representing individuals from every corner of the nation, sent a letter to the Chairmen and Ranking Members of the Senate and House Agriculture Committees along with the Farm Bill conferees thanking the respective leaders for their work so far through this process, especially for the continuation of seed cotton provisions that were introduced in February. The letter also outlines industry goals that still have to be negotiated during the conference process.
- Completing the Farm Bill by the end of 2018, so producers can go to lending institutions to show market stability for the next five years
- Increased funding for the Economic Adjustment Assistance Program (EAAP) that is included in the House version of the Farm Bill. EAAP helps support domestic consumption of cotton and increases the competitiveness of American textile manufacturing, while supporting direct and indirect jobs in rural communities, many of which are in Georgia and the southeast.
- Removing “actively engaged” provisions added at the last minute by the Senate. Adoption of these changes downplays the importance of the contributions made by family members on farms and makes passing multigenerational farms to relatives other than children harder.
- Ratifying the no cost adjustments to cotton marketing loan programs included in the House Farm Bill.
- Maintaining adjusted gross income means test at current levels to more appropriately support family farms, especially in times of depressed markets.
- To give the United States Department of Agriculture the tools to monitor the flow of cotton throughout the manufacturing process and the oversight to make regulatory changes to make that process more efficient and transparent.
The conference process has gotten underway and will start in earnest soon. Georgia Rep. Austin Scott, David Scott, and Rick Allen are members of the Farm Bill Conference Committee. Conferees will negotiate differences in the House and Senate versions of the legislation which does significantly more than provide a safety net for farms and farmers; the Farm Bill also provides nutritional assistance for Americans of all backgrounds and supports the underpinnings of rural communities that have been struggling over the past several years. Producers and other interested people are encouraged to contact their Senators and Representatives in Washington to share their opinion on these issues.