87th Georgia FFA Convention

This week we had the pleasure of participating in the annual Georgia FFA Convention in Macon. Thursday was very eventful with a nearly all day trade show in which the Georgia Cotton Commission had a booth and handed out cotton promotional items. Also, many kids would stop by to ask about how one gets into commodities promotion or agribusiness, so it was delightful to help give them some advice about going to college and pursuing a degree in agriculture.

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The Commission has also  been a long time supporter of the Fiber & Oil Crop Production Proficiency Award for FFA. A Proficiency Award is given to a student who excels in their SAE (Supervised Agricultural Experience) project. Their SAE usually details their experiences working on the farm and how they contributed to the success of the farm. This year’s winners and their advisors are:

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L-R: Toombs County FFA Advisor Joey Montford, first place winner Brad Sanders, second place winner John Brunner (his friend Trent received the award in his place) and Jeff Davis County FFA Advisor Crandall Parlor.

Articles of interest this week:

“Brazil WTO Case Behind Changes in Cotton Policy”

“Georgia Cotton Commission Represents Growers in D.C.”

“NCC Names New Economics Services Director”

“The Low Price Leader” (commentary by GA cotton farmer and Cotton Board member Jimmy Webb)

School Visits Picking Up

As we noted back in March, we are done with “meeting season” and now moving into “promotion season.” This week we added over 700 kids to the list of school children visited by the Georgia Cotton Commission. Yesterday’s event was in Ben Hill County and consisted of over 200 elementary school children, and today’s event took place at Whigham Elementary and had both elementary and middle school aged children. There were just over 500 at today’s event. Not only were the kids amazed at some of the neat facts about cotton, like that 75% of a dollar bill is cotton, but most teachers told me they learned something too. Both events were a success and we are well on the road to visiting with more than the 3900 that we saw last year. Below is a picture from today’s event at Whigham Elementary.

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Two weeks ago we also participated in an event in Telfair County. While the event was a success, we only go to see about half of the 800 students due to the GA Forestry Commission’s helicopter showing up and stealing the show. The weather was pretty so I don’t blame the students for wanting to spend time outside viewing the equipment. See below.

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Commission Research Program Valuable to Growers

In the past two weeks we have met several times discussing the Commission’s research program. As many of you know, the Georgia Cotton Commission is tasked with providing research, promotion, and education of cotton in Georgia. While the 2015 research projects were approved last year, the 2016 projects and any new 2015 projects are the current items being discussed. At the local county cotton production meetings we showed a breakdown of the growers $1/bale checkoff funds and how they are spent. All of the research funded by the Commission since 2009 is also listed on the research page of our website. See below.

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As you can see, 23% of the Commission’s funds are spent on research this year. This number is usually around the 25% mark. If you break that research number down further (see below), you can see that research in the Crop and Soil Sciences Department at UGA receives the bulk of the funding. The main reason is because Crop and Soil is such a large and diverse department with Commission funded projects ranging from variety testing and PGR management all the way to soil moisture sensor and irrigation research. All of these projects, regardless of program area/discipline, add value to the Georgia cotton farmer. We doubt that Georgia would be the second largest cotton producer and have made so many strides in yield increases without the Commission’s research program. Putting an actual dollar amount on the impact the research program has had on the Georgia cotton farmer is nearly impossible, but many of the decisions that are made daily on the farm are guided by the results generated from the research program. As we’ve written before, cotton has a rich history in Georgia and with the Commission’s research program we plan on cotton being produced in Georgia for a long time.

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As always, if anyone has any questions about the Commission’s research program or any other activities of GCC, please feel free to give us a call (478-988-4235) or visit our website.

USDA Prospective Plantings for 2015

The big news this week was the release of USDA’s 2015 Prospective Plantings report. You can read the report for a select few southern states here. Of course the number we look the most at is the GA cotton plantings. For 2015, USDA estimates 1.1 million acres in GA. This is down 20% from the 2014 acreage of 1.38 million acres. The acres number for all of major row crops in GA is interesting to look at and investigate further. 2015 corn is at 305,000 acres, down 45,000 from 2014. Cotton is down 280,000 acres from 2014. Combine the loss corn and cotton acres and you have a 325,000 acre loss. Both peanuts and soybeans gained acres in this report over their 2014 numbers. Peanuts up 20% to 720,000 acres, or a gain of 120,000 acres. Soybeans up 23% to 370,000 acres, or a gain of 70,000. The gains in peanuts and soybeans equal 190,000. The difference in lost acres of corn and cotton outweigh the gained acres in peanuts and soybeans by 135,000 acres. Sorghum is unchanged in GA from 2014 and tobacco numbers (usually 12-15,000 acres) are not enough to factor into the discussion. I doubt GA will grow 135,000 more acres of vegetables and I doubt all of those acres will go into new alternative crops like sesame and canola. Pasture land is unchanged as well. Therefore, it appears, according to the 2015 USDA Prospective Plantings report, that some land will be idled/fallowed in 2015. Given that the ARC/PLC programs pay on base acres and not planted acres, fallowed land is not really a bad thing. The new generic base established in the 2014 Farm Bill based on the previous amount of cotton base acres does require that those generic base acres be assigned to a covered commodity that is planted, therefore you must plant a covered commodity to receive a payment (if triggered) on any generic base acres. It is interesting to note that GA has just over 1.4 million generic base acres. If you add the prospective plantings of the major covered commodities in GA (corn, peanuts, soybeans, and sorghum) you get 1.435 million acres. Dr. Don Shurley, UGA Ag Economist, has a good summary of the USDA report here.