GDA: Disaster Assistance Available for Farmers Affected by Hurricane Michael

Effective today, farmers with damage from Hurricane Michael may be eligible for disaster assistance from funds allocated during the special legislative session convened by Governor Nathan Deal on November 13, 2018. The Fiscal Year 2019 Appropriation Act was amended to provide emergency funding for state agencies and local governments in areas most heavily impacted by Hurricane Michael. Funds include $55 million for emergency disaster relief loans.

In keeping with its rural rehabilitation roots, the Georgia Development Authority will administer the special $55 million loan program for the purpose of providing timely relief to Georgia Farmers through the SAFETY 21 Loan Program. Funds will be loaned in order to bridge the gap until other disaster program and insurance funds become available. To be eligible for assistance, the applicant must be a farmer suffering a loss to their income as a result of Hurricane Michael. Loans will have a 7-year term with a graduated rate starting at 1 percent. For more information,visit www.gdaonline.com or www.agr.georgia.gov.

As a result of Hurricane Michael, Southwest Georgia experienced approximately $2.5 billion in losses within the agriculture and timber industries. More information about projected losses from Hurricane Michael is available at http://agr.georgia.gov/gda-hurricane-response.aspx

Farm Bill Signed into Law; MFP Program Continued

The Georgia Cotton Commission applauds the recent passage by Congress and President Trump’s signing of the Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018 (farm bill).  This legislation provides long term stability to farmers and rural communities across the nation, especially here in Georgia where farmers will be feeling the wrath of Hurricane Michael for years to come.  The Commission also welcomes the announcement of the second half of payments through the Market Facilitation Program, which helps farmers who have been adversely affected by distressed commodity markets caused by trade negotiations.

Georgia Cotton Commission Chairman Bart Davis, a cotton, peanut, and corn farmer from Colquitt County, said, “Thank you so much to committee leadership and especially our leaders from Georgia who recognize agriculture’s importance to Georgia’s economy and providing the industry a framework to operate in for the next several years.”

The five year farm bill continues safety net provisions established in the previous farm bill and also incorporates many of the cotton industry’s priorities, including:

  • Continuation of the Seed Cotton program
  • Continued access to Marketing Loans
  • Full funding of the Economic Adjustment Assistance Program which promotes domestic processing and consumption of cotton
  • Correction of “actively engaged” family farm requirements that acknowledge the efforts put in my all family members on the farm

The Commission implores congressional leaders to come together on disaster assistance for communities devastated by Hurricane Michael when the new Congress convenes in January and for timely implementation of the farm bill.

NCC: Tariff Mitigation Assistance Appreciated

MEMPHIS, Tenn. – The National Cotton Council (NCC) conveyed its thanks to President Trump and Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue for authorizing the second round of trade mitigation payments aimed at assisting farmers suffering from damage due to unjustified trade retaliation by foreign nations.

USDA announced today that producers of certain commodities, including cotton, now will be eligible to receive Market Facilitation Program (MFP) payments for the second half of their 2018 production. As in the first round, the MFP will provide $0.06/lb. on the remaining half of a producer’s 2018 cotton production (upland and ELS).

Once harvest is complete, producers must certify their production to the local USDA Farm Service Agency office before payments will be made. The signup must be completed by January 15, 2019, with certification due by May 1, 2019. Information and instructions are at www.farmers.gov/mfp. The MFP payments are subject to the existing $900,000 adjusted gross income means test and a separate $125,000 per person payment limit for the eligible crops.

NCC Chairman Ron Craft, a Plains, Texas, ginner, said, “The National Cotton Council is very appreciative of Secretary Perdue and his team at USDA. This tariff mitigation program will help address a portion of the losses cotton producers are facing in the marketplace.”

Davis, Mathis Named to Cotton Commission Board; Webb Honored for Service

In early December, the Commodity Commission Ex Oficio Committee met to make appointments to the Georgia Cotton Commission Board of Directors.  GCC Chairman Bart Davis, a cotton, peanut, corn, and cattle farmer from Doerun, Georgia, was reappointed to another term on the board.  Chad Mathis, a cotton, peanut, and corn farmer from Arlington, Georgia, Mathis succeeds Jimmy Webb of Calhoun County.  At the Commission’s December meeting of the Board of Directors, Webb was honored for his fifteen years of service to Georgia’s cotton producers.

Bart Davis operates Davis Farms with his wife, daughter, and two sons. Davis is a longtime supporter of FFA and holds a State FFA Degree as well as being named Georgia Star Farmer. Davis has also been named Farmer of the Year at the Annual Peanut Festival in Sylvester. In addition to serving as the Georgia Cotton Commission’s Chairman, Davis serves as chairman of the Boll Weevil Eradication Foundation of Georgia, a Delegate to the National Cotton Council, a Director for Southern Cotton Growers, and as an Alternate Director for Cotton Incorporated.

Chad Mathis is a partner in Mathis Farms General Partners along with his father and brother.  He graduated from Valdosta State University with a BBA in Marketing and returned to the farm in 1998.  Mathis previously served the Georgia Cotton Commission as a board advisor.  In addition to service with the Commission, Mathis serves the industry as a delegate to the National Cotton Council of America, state co-chairman for the American Cotton Producers of the National Cotton Council of America, a board member of the Southern Cotton Growers, and an alternate delegate to Cotton Incorporated.  He is also a graduate of Leadership Baker.  He has three sons who attend Southwest Georgia Academy in Damascus.  When asked about his appointment, he said, “I am glad to be a part of the Cotton Commission and excited to help best serve my fellow cotton producers across the state.”

Jimmy Webb is a cotton, peanut, and corn producer from Leary, Georgia.  Webb had served from 2000-2011 and 2015-2018 on the Georgia Cotton Commission Board of Directors.  He will continue to serve the industry as Treasurer of The Cotton Board and as a director of Staplcotn. Webb has three adult children and two grandchildren.  In his comments at the Commission meeting, Webb highlighted how honored he was to have served the industry in many capacities over the years, and is looking forward to the future of the cotton industry in Georgia and the United States.

NCC Applauds EPA, COE for New WOTUS Rule

MEMPHIS, Tenn. – The National Cotton Council (NCC) appreciates the hard work by EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (COE) in drafting the proposed Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule that was released today.

When finalized, this rule, Revised Definition of “Waters of the United States,” will replace the onerous 2015 WOTUS rule that threatens to wrest control of vast tracts of land from farmers, landowners and businesses. While the new rule still will protect waters of the United States, it will more strictly define and clarify what is covered by federal regulations and what is not covered. It also will provide relief from burdensome over regulation of non-navigable waters such as roadside and farm ditches.

The NCC will review the proposal and submit comments to EPA and the COE during the comment period.

NCC Strongly Supports 2018 Farm Bill; Urges Quick Passage by Congress

MEMPHIS, Tenn. – The National Cotton Council (NCC) strongly supports the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 released today and urges Congress to quickly pass the measure and the President to sign it into law. A new five-year farm bill will bring some much-needed certainty and predictability to the U.S. cotton industry. The continued safety net is especially crucial as many parts of the Cotton Belt have faced devastating natural disasters this growing season, compounding producers’ financial strains from retaliatory trade tariffs on U.S. cotton.

The new farm bill culminates years of work and commitment by Members of Congress and their staff to update and improve current farm policy within the existing budget resources available.

NCC Chairman Ron Craft, a ginner from Plains, Texas, said, “The NCC greatly appreciates the hard work and dedication of Chairmen Conaway (R-TX) and Roberts (R-KS) and Ranking Members Peterson (D-MN) and Stabenow (D-MI) and their staff to develop a final farm bill that recognizes the unique policy needs for all crops and regions across the country. Our industry is especially thankful to Chairman Conaway and his team for their leadership in advancing and protecting cotton’s priorities in the legislation. In addition to these House and Senate agriculture committee leaders, Cotton Belt Members of Congress helped develop and move the farm bill through the House and Senate, and our industry is extremely grateful for their ongoing support of the cotton industry.”

The bill includes many of the cotton industry’s policy priorities – continuation of the Seed Cotton ARC/PLC program, full access to the marketing loan program, full funding for textile competitiveness programs, effective crop insurance products, no reduction in arbitrary payment limits, and addresses overly restrictive family farm eligibility requirements. This adjustment to the ‘family definition’ for farm programs will help resolve the unintended and punitive restrictions that resulted from the ‘actively engaged’ changes made by the 2014 farm law and ensure that all family farms are treated equitably. In addition, the bill includes a yield update opportunity for all producers that will better align program yields with current production levels.

“Following Congressional passage and the President’s signature,” Craft stated, “the NCC looks forward to working with Secretary Perdue and the USDA team on timely implementation of this important legislation.”

Speakers Announced: Georgia Cotton Commission 12th Annual Meeting Jan. 30, 2019

The Georgia Cotton Commission is pleased to announce the guest speakers at the Commission’s 12th Annual Meeting scheduled for Wednesday, January 30, 2018, at the UGA Tifton Campus Conference Center. The annual meeting is held in conjunction with the UGA Cotton Production Workshop conducted by the UGA Research & Extension Cotton Team.

The UGA Cotton Production Workshop will feature breakout sessions where attendees will learn the latest technical production strategies from the researchers whose projects are funded by the Commission’s research program. The Georgia Cotton Commission Annual Meeting will follow the breakout sessions and feature speakers from several industry organizations.

The program speakers are J. Lee Cromley, Vice President, Southern Cotton Growers; K. Michael Tate, Vice Chairman, National Cotton Council of America; Bruce Atherly, Executive Director, Cotton Council International.

Lee Cromley is a cotton and peanut farmer from Brooklet, Georgia who is currently serving as Vice President of the Southern Cotton Growers, an organization that represents thousands of cotton growers throughout Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Florida, and Virginia.  Cromley is also a board member for the Georgia Cotton Commission, Bulloch Gin, Bulloch County FSA, and Farmers & Merchants Bank and Board Advisor for the National Cotton Council of America.  He is a graduate of the University of Georgia College of Agricultural & Environmental Sciences and has been farming with his brother Charlie since 1983.

Michael Tate is a cotton, soybean, wheat, corn, and pumpkin farmer from Huntsville, Alabama who is currently serving as the Vice Chairman of the National Cotton Council of America, the trade organization for cotton production in the United States.  Tate is the former president of the Southern Cotton Growers, former chair of the American Cotton Producers, board member for Alabama Farmers Co-op and Staplcotn, and board advisor for Cotton Council International.

Bruce Atherley has a long and successful track record in global marketing and management. He previously served as Vice President, Global Marketing for Kao, Inc., a Tokyo-based global manufacturer of personal care and household products. He also worked for the William Wrigley Jr. Company, serving as its Vice President of North American Confections Marketing, President and General Manager of Wrigley Canada and Managing Director, Global Branding Services. Prior to Wrigley, he served as Vice President of Retail Marketing for the H.J. Heinz Company, President and CEO of Pet Life, Inc., Marketing Director, Black and Decker and Product Manager, Cheerios for General Mills Inc. Atherley assumed his current role as Executive Director of Cotton Council International in October 2015.

Following the Annual Meeting speakers, the Commission will host lunch where sponsors will be recognized and door prizes will be given away. The meeting, production workshop, and lunch are open to not only cotton growers, but anyone interested in the cotton industry. The UGA Cotton Production Workshop breakout sessions will be repeated after lunch.

There is no charge to attend. Pre-registration is requested to help with meal plans.  Register online here or call (229) 386-3416.

Thank you to our sponsors:

Deltapine/Bayer Crop Science – Phytogen/Corteva Agriscience – Stoneville/BASF
Actagro – Agri-AFC – Allenberg Cotton Company – Alltech
Americot, Inc.-NexGen – Ameris Bank – Choice Cotton Company – CNI
Cotton Growers Cooperative – Custom Ag Formulators
Farm Credit Associations of Georgia – Flint Ag & Turf – Holder Ag Consulting Indigo Ag – Kelley Manufacturing Co. Lasseter Equipment Group
McLean Marechal Insurance/Nationwide Insurance – Nachurs
Nationwide Farm Insurance/Bill Hembree & Alex Smith – Nutrien Ag Solutions Pinnacle Marketing – Rabo AgriFinance
R.W. Griffin/Coffee County Gin/Four Corners Cotton Gin SePRO Corporation Southeast AgNet – Southern Drawl Cotton – Staplcotn – Syngenta
Triangle Chemical – Valent USA – Valley Irrigation – Yara US