Cotton Industry Reaches Out to Farm Bill Conferees

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.

They include:

  • 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.

Advertisements

UGA Seed Cotton Decision Tools Available Now

UGA Ag Econ Seed Cotton Decision Tool

Producers, as you know, it is the time to make your base acre and program elections as it relates to the new seed cotton program, created by Congress in February via the Bi-Partisan Budget Act.  For more information, please see the tool developed by UGA’s Extension Cotton Economists above.

Georgia Highlights Sustainability & Efficiency to Manufacturers

IMG_7120.JPG

Earlier this month, representatives of Wal-Mart, Hanes Brands, and Fruit of the Loom traveled to Georgia to see first-hand how efficient cotton production is here in Georgia.  The trip was organized by Dr. Ed Barnes, Senior Director of Agricultural & Environmental Research at Cotton Incorporated.  Participants stopped at the office of the Georgia Cotton Commission in Perry and visited two farms in Macon County to see the work done by UGA Extension Irrigation & Precision Ag Specialist Dr. Wes Porter on producer funded research through Cotton Incorporated.

Dr. Porter and Dr. Barnes shared data they have collected on water use on farms across Georgia.  The goal of this research is to demonstrate that cotton farmers are using less water to produce more cotton.  Macon County UGA Extension Coordinator Erin Forte described the diversity of agriculture in the county and each segment’s different needs.  One of the participants commented, “It is exciting to see how the story (of cotton) is beginning to be told.”  The participants are interested in this research because of consumers demand for more sustainably produced goods.

At CJ Farms outside of Marshallville, Jamie and Adam Hughes discussed the importance of irrigation, technology, and innovation on their 4,000 acre farm, which includes 1,600 acres of cotton as well as soybeans, peanuts, and corn.  At Rodgers Brothers Farm near Oglethorpe, the group got to see the study in action.  The study uses water sensors to track rainfall/irrigation and how much moisture the soil is retaining at different depths.  There are three sensors in each field.  This information is packaged to give growers the information in an easy to use web based application so they can make crucial decisions on irrigation.

The first class work that Georgia farmers along with UGA researchers and extension personnel are doing in both matters and is being noticed by industry and hopefully consumers.  It appears that sustainability and transparency are more than just a fad with consumers, and going forward, Georgia cotton will continue to lead the nation in both because of forward thinking by the state’s leadership.

NCC: Trade Assistance is Appreciated

MEMPHIS, Tenn. – The National Cotton Council is thankful for the Trump Administration’s plan to assist U.S. farmers and ranchers facing trade disruptions from retaliation tariffs.

USDA announced today that up to $12 billion would be provided to farmers and ranchers under the plan that includes: a Market Facilitation Program, a Food Purchase & Distribution Program, and a Trade Promotion Program. USDA senior officials said payment calculations and other details of the plan would be provided in a few weeks.

NCC Chairman Ron Craft, a Plains, Texas, ginner, stated, “We support the Administration for taking this interim action to help at least partially offset impacts until better trade relationships can be restored and improved. The negative effects of the retaliatory tariffs are being felt at multiple points in the U.S. cotton and cottonseed industry from the farmgate on through the distribution and marketing channels. Our industry thanks Agriculture Secretary Perdue for exercising his authority to provide this much needed relief.”

The Memphis-based NCC’s mission is ensuring the ability of the U.S. cotton industry’s seven segments to compete effectively and profitably in the raw cotton, oilseed and U.S.-manufactured product markets at home and abroad.

Field Days Provide Growers with Valuable Information

phillipOn July 18th, northeast Georgia cotton producers, University of Georgia (UGA) faculty & staff, and industry personnel gathered at UGA’s J. Phil Campbell Sr. Research and Education Center in Watkinsville for a cotton field day.  At the field day, attendees got to see firsthand the research that UGA’s first class group of extension scientists are conducting with producer funds via the Georgia Cotton Commission and Cotton Incorporated.

Field days give producers the chance to interact directly with researchers and ask questions about issues on their farm in the areas of agronomics, entomology, plant nutrition, etc.  Speakers at the Watkinsville event included UGA Extension Cotton Agronomists Dr. Jared Whitaker and Mark Freeman, UGA Extension Entomologist Dr. Phillip Roberts, UGA Extension Irrigation & Precision Ag Specialist Dr. Wes Porter, and UGA Statewide Variety Testing program Dr. Daniel Mailhot.  Producers also got to explore through the variety trial that was on the facility and see how the difference varieties compared to each other in different soil conditions.

There will be other field days this year, on August 15th at the Southeast Georgia Research and Education Center in Midville and September 5th in Tifton and will have similar presentations plus more.  There are plans to have one in northwest Georgia/northeast Alabama in cooperation with Auburn University.  If you have questions about these events, please contact your county UGA Extension office.

NCC: Senate’s Farm Legislation Raises Serious Concerns for Cotton

MEMPHIS, Tenn. – The National Cotton Council (NCC) will be working to ensure that final farm legislation will address the serious shortcomings of the Senate farm bill, the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018.

One of those major concerns involves the Economic Adjustment Assistance Program (EAAP). That program, which had been eliminated in the farm bill version voted out of the Senate Agriculture Committee, has three years of full funding restored in the Senate’s farm bill. While that is a step in the right direction, the NCC strongly believes that it is critically important to fully restore the funding for EAAP which continues to help U.S. textile manufacturers stay competitive.

The NCC appreciates the work of Senators Isakson (R-GA), Jones (D-AL), Tillis (R-NC), Burr (R-NC) and Graham (R-SC), as well as Senate Agriculture Committee members Boozman (R-AR), Hyde-Smith (R-MS) and Perdue (R-GA) for fighting for EAAP restoration and other cotton priorities. Senators Isakson and Jones led a letter with 16 Senators that was sent to the Committee urging full funding of EAAP, and Senator Hyde-Smith introduced an amendment that would have fully restored the EAAP funding.

The NCC appreciates the efforts of all Cotton Belt Senators who worked throughout the Senate farm bill process to defend and improve policies important to the cotton industry.

The NCC thanks Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Roberts (R-KS) for his leadership in preserving the Agriculture Risk Coverage/Price Loss Coverage (ARC/PLC) programs and the marketing loan program, but the NCC is extremely concerned about a damaging amendment by Senator Grassley (R-IA) included in the Senate’s farm bill that will harm family farms across the country and make the farm law’s safety net less effective. That amendment tightens the restrictions on farm management contributions for commodity program eligibility.

The NCC believes the House’s version of the farm bill more fully addresses the policy needs of the U.S. cotton and textile industries, as well as commercially-viable family farming operations in general. The NCC, as U.S. cotton’s central organization, looks forward to working with its supporters in the House and Senate throughout the conference committee process to achieve the U.S. cotton industry’s policy priorities in the final legislation.

The Memphis-based NCC’s mission is ensuring the ability of those seven U.S. cotton industry segments to compete effectively and profitably in the raw cotton, oilseed and U.S.-manufactured product markets at home and abroad.

Leaders Pass Farm Legislation, but Crucible Remains for Farm Bill

On June 21st, the U.S. House of Representatives passed their version of the Farm Bill on a narrow (213-211), largely party line vote.  The Senate passed their version June 28th in a much more bi-partisan fashion (86-11).  The House bill drastically changes the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and the Senate version pulls money from textile mills and puts it in to biomass and renewable fuels, just to highlight a few differences.

While we all took high school civics and understand the basics of the legislative process, this legislation isn’t exactly ready for President Trump’s signature, and in several ways is being ready to be actually written.  The Farm Bill’s next stop is a conference committee, a temporary panel of members of both houses and both parties.  The members are appointed by the leadership in concert with the chairs and ranking members of the committee in which the legislation originated (in this case, the agriculture committees of each respective house), with the possibility of members of other committees of jurisdiction.

The purpose of the conference committee is to come together (a term rarely used in Washington today) to draft a conference report that can be passed by both houses.  While the committee cannot re-write the bill, sometimes things that were not included in the original legislation can find their way in.  Conferees may also put their own signature to the report that represents the “local flair” of their constituents.  News out of the conference committee may be slim, as most of the proceedings will take place behind closed doors.

This is obviously an extremely important part of the process in getting American farmers and consumers a Farm Bill.  The hope is that this legislation will be passed fairly quickly and with as little drama as possible in order to give farmers and markets the stability to feed and clothe our nation over the next five years.  All of American agriculture will watch anxiously to see which legislators are appointed to the committee.

USDA to Help Producers Prepare for Addition of Seed Cotton to Two Key Safety Net Programs

WASHINGTON, June 25, 2018 — The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is sending acreage history and yield reports to agricultural producers with generic base acres covered by the Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC) programs. This information will help producers decide the best options for how to allocate generic base acres, given the addition of seed cotton as a covered commodity in the programs.

“We’re sending this information to make sure farmers and ranchers have the data they need to make critical decisions about these USDA programs,” said Richard Fordyce, administrator of USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA). “It’s important that producers take a few minutes to compare the information they receive with their farm records. If something is incorrect, we encourage them to contact their local USDA office.”

The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 amended the 2014 Farm Bill, adding seed cotton as a covered commodity under the ARC and PLC programs. This week, FSA will start sending producers information on current generic base acres, yields and 2008-2012 planting history.

Per the Act, FSA is using the period 2009 through 2012 to compute the conversion of generic base acres to seed cotton base acres.  In contrast, the 2008 through 2012 period is used to calculate yield updates to seed cotton. The updates are an important part of preparing agricultural producers to make decisions on allocating generic basic acres and updating yields for seed cotton.

This summer, producers will have an opportunity to allocate their generic base acres and update their seed cotton yield.

All producers electing to participate in either the ARC or PLC program will be required to make a one-time, unanimous and irrevocable election, choosing between ARC and PLC for the 2018 crop year for seed cotton only. Producers who elected ARC with the individual farm option will continue with that option since that election is applicable to all base acres on the farm. The final step to participate requires producers with farms with seed cotton base acres to sign contracts for ARC or PLC for 2018 this summer.

 

The anticipated timeline is:

  • June 29: Producers are mailed letters notifying them of current generic base acres and yields and 2008 to 2012 planting history.
  • July: An online decision tool for ARC and PLC becomes available. Producers have opportunity to update yields and allocate generic base acres for ARC and PLC.
  • Late July: ARC and PLC one-time elections occur for seed cotton.
  • Late July: ARC and PLC sign-up for 2018 starts for farms with seed cotton base acres.

“For all farmers and ranchers with questions, we encourage you to reach out to your local FSA office,” Fordyce said.

FSA will provide updates as dates solidify. For more information, visit FSA’s ARC and PLC webpage or contact your local USDA service center.

#

USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender.