This past week has been a very busy one. On Monday we wrapped up the last two cotton county production meetings in Webster and Sumter Counties. On Tuesday we hosted a lunch for the GA House and Senate Ag Committees as well as the Rural Caucus. On Wednesday and Thursday we made 15 office visits on Capitol Hill meeting with Senators, Congressman, and their staff to discuss the GA cotton industry.
Both in Atlanta and DC our main focus was just to make our lawmakers aware of the importance of cotton production in GA and make them aware of some current industry concerns. Below is a graph that was supplied to our lawmakers (in addition to other materials) to help show them the importance of cotton production in our great state.
In all, we had a very successful day in Atlanta with our friends from the GA General Assembly, and a successful round of meetings in Washington DC. Check out our Facebook page for a post from our DC trip.
Also coincidentally just as we arrived back from DC the USDA announced a second extended deadline for signup of ARC/PLC commodity programs. Read more from the press release here.
Now that “meeting season” is almost over and farmers are starting to get in the field to do some work, we will begin to focus our efforts on our role in the promotion and education of cotton across Georgia. Last weekend we were pleased to be the special topic and guest speaker at the Macon Chapter of the American Sewing Guild. The ladies of the sewing guild meet monthly to discuss events and activities revolving around the sewing hobby. They also invite guest to educate them about different areas of the sewing industry. GCC was invited to help them understand more about the history of cotton, the current GA cotton industry, and about some cotton products. We had a very nice discussion about these topics and the ladies were full of interesting questions about cotton in GA. Below is a picture with a couple of the Macon Chapter’s officers. Also this week we visited with students from Brooks Middle School and students from Irwin County Elementary. BCT Gin in Quitman hosted three classes of ag students from Brooks County Middle School. Gin manager Steve Bullard took the students on a tour of the gin (which was not running this time of year) and then we showed the students a quick presentation and some videos of the ginning of cotton. We also had a quick video explaining the cotton mill process of cotton being spun into yarn. On Thursday, the Commission assisted Osceola Cotton Gin at the annual Irwin County Ag Day in Ocilla. Over 120 students learned about the GA cotton industry and were able to touch seed cotton, cotton lint, and cottonseed from the ginning process. The Commission was happy to see that every student was wearing a 100% cotton t-shirt.
March 31st is the deadline to signup for ARC or PLC on your covered commodities. In Georgia this include almost all crops except cotton, which under the 2014 Farm Bill is not a covered commodity. March 31st is also the extended deadline to reallocate your base acres and/or update your program yields. This must be done at your local USDA-FSA office.
There are many resources available to help producers, bankers, and extension agents understand the 2014 Farm Bill. As we’ve written here before, there are two different decision tools posted on our homepage to help you make the PLC/ARC and base/yield update decisions. There is also a decision tool on our homepage to help you understand how STAX and SCO insurance products will work in your county. We also have dedicated a page on our website with articles and in-depth discussions on how the 2014 Farm Bill works.
Many producers have been confused lately as they have gone into their FSA office to enroll their acreage in the 2014 Farm Bill programs, mainly ARC and PLC. The question has arisen as to why cotton is not considered a covered commodity in the new farm bill, or as some people have asked “why was cotton left out of the farm bill?” Many of those asking these questions may not fully understand the far reaching affects that the WTO Brazil cotton case had on the 2014 Farm Bill negotiations and how we are bound by these agreements through the life of the farm bill (2018). For a great synopsis of how new cotton policy was developed read this article by Dr. Gary Adams, the President of the National Cotton Council of America.
“Overcoming Obstacles” by Dr. Gary Adams, President NCC, published in Cotton Farming magazine. http://www.cottonfarming.com/cottons-agenda/overcoming-obstacles/
As we’ve written about before, there are several online decision tools available for helping making farm bill and crop insurance decisions. What we haven’t covered yet are some of the basic tools available for making planting decisions, mainly how each commodity compares economically.
The UGA Extension Ag Economics group has a few very helpful resources. Hopefully most producers are aware of the budgets that UGA puts online in regards to row crops, vegetables, and animal ag production. It seems that most producers are familiar with these budgets as most producers mention something about the cotton budget at meetings I attend. What most producers may not be aware of are the decision aid tools available to evaluate how two crops compare to each other given the current market.
The most common one discussed by the extension personnel is the Crop Comparison Tool. This Excel spreadsheet is a very neat tool as it allows you to compare the price needed of one crop to get an equal value of another crop. Or you can do a side-by-side comparison of the raw dollar amount of cost and returns from the main row crops in Georgia. The spreadsheet also contains a neat price comparison chart that has one commodity on the X axis and one on the Y axis which allows you to see how the price of one commodity compares to another. For example, for irrigated cotton at 64 cents, you need $382/ton peanuts to be equal. For dryland cotton at 64 cents, you need peanuts at $362/ton to be equal. The chart allows you to look over a whole range of prices for comparison. So if you believe that cotton prices will be around 70 cents by harvest time, you can look at the price comparison chart and see that peanuts need to be $387/ton (dryland cotton) or $412/ton (irrigated cotton).
You can spend just a few minutes with this crop comparison tool to get an idea of how crops stack up against one another, or you could easily spend hours analyzing every possible scenario on your farm. Either way, the tool is there free of charge and has lots of valuable information when thinking about the cost and returns of different crops for the 2015 season.