In this week’s Georgia Cotton Commission we want to discuss our education program. With the school year now wrapping up, our education program reached over 14,000 students this year (14,796 to be exact). Most of those students received our “Cotton, King of Crops in Georgia” brochure and our educational bookmark during one of the many “ag days” or “farm days” that were held across the state this year. About 3,000 of those students were visited with directly by us at one of the half dozen or so events we were able to attend this year. Most of the students that learned about cotton this school year through our program were elementary school aged, although we were able to reach several middle school events as well. The Georgia Cotton Commission believes that it is important to explain the cotton industry to children at an early age. Most of what students learn through our program is how cotton touches every aspect of their lives, since cotton is the only food and fiber crop that we grow here in Georgia. For more information about our educational program, click the ‘Education’ tab on our homepage at GeorgiaCottonCommission.org.
Below: Kids at Columbus Downtown Elementary learn that their t-shirts are made from cotton.
Below: Students learn about cottonseed at Columbus Downtown Elementary, the last school event we attended for the 2016/17 school year.
In this week’s Georgia Cotton Commission update we want to remind growers about the Georgia Cotton Growers’ Efficiency Survey. This survey is part of a project funded by the Georgia Cotton Commission with the goal of improving Georgia cotton farmers’ production efficiency. The survey will look at each participant’s production efficiency based on farm inputs and farm yields. If you complete the survey, your survey results will be analyzed and you will be able to log back into the survey and see how your farm compares to others. Of course all of this information will be displayed as anonymous. The growers who participate in this survey will receive data that gives them the opportunity to tweak some inputs on their farm to increase the efficiency of the farm. The study is being conducted by Dr. Jeffrey Dorman and one of his graduate students in the UGA Ag Economics Department. The survey can be found at GeorgiaCottonFarmers.com or on our website at GeorgiaCottonCommission.org.
Cotton Farmer Survey Flyer Final 2.0
In this week’s Georgia Cotton Commission update we want to congratulate Justin Jones on being selected to the Emerging Leaders Program. Jones, a producer from Smithville, is one of twelve people from the U.S. cotton industry who have been chosen to participate in the National Cotton Council’s (NCC) Emerging Leaders Program for 2017-18. Now in its fifth year, the NCC’s Emerging Leaders Program is supported by a grant to The Cotton Foundation from Monsanto. Overall, the Emerging Leaders Program provides participants with a better understanding of how the NCC carries out its mission of ensuring the U.S. cotton industry’s seven segments can compete effectively and profitably in the raw cotton, oilseed, and U.S.-manufactured product markets at home and abroad.
Specifically, participants get an in-depth look at: 1) the U.S. cotton industry infrastructure and the issues affecting the industry’s economic well-being; 2) the U.S. political process; 3) the NCC’s programs such as policy development and implementation process and 4) Cotton Council International’s activities aimed at developing and maintaining export markets for U.S. cotton, manufactured cotton products, and cottonseed products. You can find more information about the Emerging Leaders Program by reading the press release on our website at GeorgiaCottonCommission.org.
In this week’s Georgia Cotton Commission update we want to inform all cotton producers in Georgia that nominations are open for positions on the Georgia Cotton Commission board. All commodity commission are farmer-funded and governed by producer appointed members. Each appointment is for three years, and the Agricultural Commodity Commission Ex-Officio Committee can reappoint or replace each board member once their term expires. To be nominated, eligible individuals must be an active Georgia cotton producer. Nominees will be certified to ensure they are active Georgia producers and geographic representation may be considered when making appointments. Appointments will be made by the Agricultural Commodity Commission Ex-Officio Committee in July. Nomination forms must be submitted to the GA Department of Ag by May 26th. For questions, please contact the GA Department of Ag at 404-585-1405, or visit their website at http://www.Agr.Georgia.gov. Information and forms regarding board nominations are also posted on our website at http://www.GeorgiaCottonCommission.org.
Click here for more information about board nominations.
Click here for nomination form.
This week former Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue was sworn in as the new Secretary of Agriculture. This is great news for the cotton industry as Secretary Perdue has been involved with agriculture his whole life. He was raised on a farm in Middle Georgia, graduated from the University of Georgia with a veterinarian degree, worked as a vet for several years, and then returned to Middle Georgia to start several agribusinesses. Secretary Perdue has also been in the policy arena for a long time, serving in the State Senate before being elected Governor of Georgia in 2002. After serving two terms as governor he remained active in the agricultural industry, serving on several state and national boards. Many ag groups, including the cotton industry, are excited to have Sonny Perdue as our Ag Secretary. Ronnie Lee, a Georgia farmer and Chairman of the National Cotton Council, said “We are excited and stand ready to partner with Secretary Perdue with a goal of getting programs and policies in place that will ensure our industry continues to contribute to the American economy.”
Watch Perdue’s welcome speech here.
In this week’s Georgia Cotton Commission update we will discuss the potential amount of cotton plantings this year. The National Cotton Council’s 2017 Plantings Intentions Report indicated 1.114 million acres of GA cotton this year, which is about 3% less than the 1.180 million acres planted in 2016. The USDA March Prospective Plantings Report indicated 1.300 million acres, or about 10% more cotton than last year. This difference in numbers is likely due to when the surveys were conducted. The NCC survey was conducted from mid-December of 2016 through mid-January of 2017. The USDA survey was conducted during the first two weeks of March. From January to March 2017, the December 2017 futures contract for cotton increased from approximately 69 cents to 75 cents. This price increase is only part of the story. Many producers have indicated that the lower price of corn and the inability of fitting soybeans into a long-term rotation, have caused them to go back to cotton this year. In total, according to USDA numbers, GA will plant 2.69 million acres in our largest 5 row crops: cotton, peanuts, corn, soybeans, and sorghum. This is about 100,000 more row crop acres than last year.
In this week’s Georgia Cotton Commission update we want to explain the new Thrips Infestation Predictor for Cotton online tool. This thrips model was produced at NC State with collaboration from cotton entomologist across the Southeast, including UGA’s Phillip Roberts and Mike Toews. This model will help producers understand how bad thrips may be in a given field based on planting date, temperature, rainfall, and prior knowledge about the biology of thrips themselves. Given these parameters, growers can used this model, which features a Google Map style interface, to drop a pin at their field location and select a planting date. The model will produce a chart that shows how likely thrips are to infest that location at that planting date and other similar planting dates. The level of thrips activity indicated in this model should give producers a good indicator of which thrips management strategies are necessary during early seedling growth. This model is another great tool available for farmers to use in preparation for this year’s cotton crop. To find the model, visit the UGA Cotton Team’s website at http://www.UGACotton.com.
Click here to visit the Thrips Infestation Predictor for Cotton online tool.
Click here to read Dr. Phillip Roberts article about the tool.
Earlier this week, Georgia cotton and peanut farmers Ronnie Lee and Tim McMillan testified before the Subcommittee on General Farm Commodities and Risk Management, which is part of the House Agriculture Committee.
Ronnie Lee is from Bronwood and was testifying on behalf of the National Cotton Council, in which Lee currently serves as Chairman. Lee stressed to the Subcommittee the need for cotton to be put back into Title 1 of the 2014 Farm Bill. Lee noted that the WTO Brazil case dictated that cotton lint would not have a Title 1 program during the Farm Bill debate and STAX seemed to be the solution. Unfortunately STAX was not passed with all of its original provisions, mainly a reference price, and therefore has not provided adequate support for American cotton farmers.
Tim McMillan is from Enigma and testified on behalf of the Southern Peanut Farmers Federation. McMillan stressed the need for keeping the current peanut provisions in the next Farm Bill which is scheduled for 2018. McMillan also stated that the Southern Peanut Farmers Federation represents 80% of US peanut production and they support the National Cotton Council’s current cottonseed PLC/ARC proposal.
In this week’s Georgia Cotton Commission update we want to inform you that the Commission reached just over 2,200 growers and others interested in cotton during the 2017 production meeting season. Each year, county agents contact the UGA Cotton Team to set up cotton production meetings in most of the counties that grow cotton. The Georgia Cotton Commission assist in sponsoring these meetings by covering half of the cost of the meeting. During the meetings, we are also able to spend a few minutes updating the participants about the Commission’s activities over the past year as well as any future concerns or outlook that we may have. Last year we reached just over 1,800 people in our production meetings. The 22% increase in participation this year is a strong signal that many growers are more interested in cotton production when compared to last year. With the recent uptick in the December futures price of cotton and the increased meeting participation we saw this winter, it can be expected that GA will plant at least as much cotton as we did last year, if not slightly more.
Yesterday the US Senate Agriculture Committee held the confirmation hearing for former Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue to be the next Secretary of Agriculture. Governor Perdue was introduced by former US Senator and former Ag Committee Chairman Saxby Chambliss and US Representative David Scott, who currently serves on the House Ag Committee. Both Senator Chambliss and Congressman Scott are from Georgia and are good friends of the cotton industry.
During Governor Perdue’s opening statement, he laid out his top 4 priorities as Secretary of Agriculture if confirmed. First, Governor Perdue said he would focus on creating jobs for rural America. Second, he said he would like to prioritize customer service at USDA. Third, Perdue said that he would ensure a safe and viable food supply. And last, he said he work with farmers to help them sustain the land for future generations. During the question and answer portions of the hearing, Perdue mentioned on several occasions that he understood the difficulty that cotton farmers have gone through these last couple of years. He committed to working with Congress and others in the administration to ensure that farmers and consumers needs are adequately met in the next farm bill.
Other notable agricultural interest from Georgia were also in attendance at the hearing. Congressman Sanford Bishop, AFBF President Zippy Duvall, GA Ag Commissioner Gary Black, and State Senator Tyler Harper all behind Perdue and next to his family during the hearing.
Click here to watch the full hearing from the Senate Ag Committee.