GA Loses 100k Acres of Farmland and Cotton Value Drops 12% in 2015

USDA data released this week shows that nationwide over 1 million acres were taken out of farmland from 2014 to 2015. Of that, 100,000 acres were from GA. What is interesting is that no other state had more than 100,000 lost from 2014 to 2015 but there were several at the same level as GA. Unfortunately most of these states listed below are in the Cotton Belt.

  • Alabama (down 100,000 acres)
  • Colorado (down 100,000 acres)
  • Georgia (down 100,000 acres)
  • Mississippi (down 100,000 acres)
  • North Carolina (down 100,000 acres)
  • North Dakota (down 100,000 acres)
  • Oklahoma (down 100,000 acres)
  • Virginia (down 100,000 acres)
  • Wisconsin (down 100,000 acres)

Other USDA data released this week shows that the value of all GA cotton (lint and seed) declined 12% from 2014; going from 937 million in  214 to 826 million in 2015. Overall, total crop values in the USDA Southern Region report have plummeted since 2012. Only FL has seen a rise in the last two years but not back to their 2012 levels.

Southern Crop Values 2006-2015

Crop Insurance Tool Now Updated

Many of you may have used the Farm Bill Decision Aid created by Ag and Food Policy Center (AFPC) at Texas A&M University. AFPC was one of several programs that received funding in the 2014 Farm Bill for educating producers. This decision aid was created to help growers navigate through the tough decisions of reallocating bases, updating yields, and making the PLC/ARC decision. There was also a crop insurance portion to this decision aid.

Recently, AFPC announced that the crop insurance portion of the decision aid has been updated for 2016. If you created an account on the decision aid last year, all you have to do is login and start playing with the insurance calculator; all of your farm data that was that was input last year is stored in the program. If you don’t have an account you can easily create one and set up your farm’s base acres and yields.

Hopefully this tool will better inform you regarding insurance for 2016.


Use UGA Crop Comparison Tool to Crunch Numbers

At our Annual Meeting last month, UGA’s Mrs. Amanda Smith went over how to use the Crop Comparison/Enterprise Budget Tool. We wrote in more detail about this tool last year and how it works. It is a good starting point to look at your numbers and how they shake out this year. The comparison spreadsheet allows you to adjust several things to see how your bottom line is affected. You can adjust each commodity price and yield as well as the input cost for NPK and deisel.

UGA Extension Ag Econ also produces budgets for a wide variety of crops. The cotton budget isn’t up yet but check this link soon to find it.

This year, more than ever in recent years, it is imperative to fine tune your each of your crop budgets. Most market reports and commentaries indicate that cotton prices aren’t expected to get any prettier any time soon. This makes crunching your farm numbers ever more important.

Key Links: UGA Extension Ag Econ page

UGA Extension Ag Econ budgets page.

A quick update on the cottonseed proposal. As we discussed last week and I’m sure you’ve seen in the ag media, Secretary Vilsack announced that he would not designate cottonseed as an ‘other oilseed.’ Fortunately for the cotton industry, our good friend House Ag Committee Chairman Michael Conaway has sent a rebuttal to Vilsack stressing the importance of designating cottonseed as an ‘other oilseed’ per the language and legal authority given to the Secretary in the 2014 Farm Bill. Like Chairman Conaway, the industry will continue to push for this designation as we feel it is well within the legal authority of USDA and it is imperative to the survival of the cotton industry.

Stay tuned as we will provide updates on this important matter.


Secretary Vilsack Says No to Cottonseed Proposal

As most of you in the cotton industry have heard by now, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that he will not use his authority to designate cottonseed as an ‘other oilseed’ as the industry and over 100 members of Congress requested.

We will not get into the details here but Delta Farm Press has a good synopsis of the letter Vilsack sent to House Ag Committee Chairman Michael Conaway, as well as Conaway’s response.

Chris Clayton of DTN gives a breakdown of the legal concerns in his recent blog, concluding by saying “Call me an internet lawyer, but I think Conaway and the cotton industry might have a case on this one.”

Below is the text of our latest press release regarding this issue.

GCC Disappointed in Secretary Vilsack’s Inaction on Cottonseed

 The Georgia Cotton Commission (GCC) is disappointed in the recent comments made by Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack regarding the designation of cottonseed as an ‘other oilseed.’ Secretary Vilsack indicated that he did not have legal authority to make such a designation.

GCC Chairman Mike Lucas, a cotton producer from Bleckley County, said that “we were pushing the Secretary to designate cottonseed as an ‘other oilseed’ and bring some temporary relief to the cotton industry.” Designating cottonseed as an ‘other oilseed,’ a clear authority given to the Secretary of Agriculture in the last three Farm Bills, would allow cottonseed to be eligible for Farm Bill programs such as Price Loss Coverage (PLC) or Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC). House Agriculture Committee Chairman Michael Conaway also believes the Farm Bill gives the Secretary the discretion to designate crops as ‘other oilseeds.’ Conaway was recently quoted as saying “The Department has not only the legal authority to designate cottonseed as an ‘other oilseed,’ but the responsibility to act.”

Lucas notes that the designation would not fix all of the problems faced by the industry but it would be a temporary form of relief until solutions to the long-term problems are found.

“China and India continue to heavily subsidize their domestic cotton industries at support levels well above the current market and higher than our old programs. We can grow high-quality cotton here in Georgia but we can’t compete in the industry when foreign governments are so heavily involved,” says Lucas. Both China and India, the top two cotton producers in the world, have price support programs that have encourage the overproduction of cotton in their respective countries and have severely depressed prices the last several years.

Lucas states that “We thank our congressional leaders and cotton organizations on the support they have given the industry in searching for a short-term solution. While we are very disappointed in Secretary Vilsack’s indication that he will not designate cottonseed as an ‘other oilseed,’ we look forward to continuing to work with USDA and our congressional delegation find some relief for the cotton industry.”

Photos from GCC 9th Annual Meeting

Last Wednesday a packed crowd gathered at the UGA Tifton Campus Conference Center for the Georgia Cotton Commission’s 9th Annual Meeting and UGA Cotton Production Workshop. The day was filled with very informative breakout sessions conducted by the UGA Cotton Team where producers learned about the latest technologies, varieties, and pest management methods for growing cotton. These breakout sessions allow the producer to learn directly from the researchers whose projects are funded by the Georgia cotton farmer through the Georgia Cotton Commission.

Speakers Reece Langley (National Cotton Council), Berrye Worsham (Cotton Incorporated), and Mike Quinn (Cotton Growers Cooperative) gave insights into a range of issues from policy initiatives to the global cotton market that the Georgia cotton farmer is facing this year.

Here is a link to our Facebook page for a full album of photos from the Annual Meeting.

Here is another link to view the 2015 Georgia Quality Cotton Awards (Sponsored by GCC, UGA Cotton Team, and Bayer CropScience).

Below: Reece Langley gives an update on policy issues pertaining to cotton to a packed crowd.


We couldn’t have made the day possible without the help from our sponsors.