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.