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

Jacobs and Hayes Presented 2018 King Cotton Awards

Local UGA Cooperative Extension Service agents are an incredible resource for cotton farmers across Georgia.  Agents are known for delivering timely and accurate information, which is instrumental for the success of Georgia’s farmers.  They also do community specific research, education, and outreach programs, designed at helping farmers maximizing yields and efficiency.

For the eighteenth year in a row, the Georgia Cotton Commission sponsored the King Cotton Awards to recognize outstanding contributions of county agents to Georgia cotton producers. The Senior Award is for agents with 10 or more years of experience, while the Junior Award, named the Allen B. Fulford Award, is for those with less than 10 years of service. The latter award honors the accomplishments and memory of Allen B. Fulford as a county Extension agent and state cotton agronomist.  The awards were presented at the 2018 Georgia Association of County Agricultural Agents Annual Meeting & Professional Improvement Conference held in Buford in November.  The Georgia Cotton Commission is proud to salute the excellent work that County Extension Agents do for farmers across the state.

The 2018 Senior King Cotton Award Winner is James Jacobs of Pierce County, where he serves as County Extension Coordinator as well as Agriculture & Natural Resources Agent.  Jacobs previously served producers in Ware and Berrien Counties.  James works with the UGA Cotton On-Farm Variety Evaluation Program as well as doing individual trials on conventional and nematode-resistant varieties, all of which helps producers select the best varieties of cotton to plant for the current year, as well as in the future.  He also goes far beyond the call of duty, by helping mentor county agents across the state.

The 2018 Allen B. Fulford Award recipient is Bryan Hayes of Mitchell County, where he serves as ANR Agent.  Bryan started with UGA Cooperative Extension in 2014, and has made a major impact on his community since that time.  Hayes also participates in UGA On-Farm Cotton Variety Evaluation Program trials as well as helping coordinate other research studies with the University of Georgia as well as the University of Florida.  Bryan has become a leading county agent on cotton in his four years in Mitchell County, and is continuing to grow as a leader in the extension service.

U.S. Cotton Industry Developing U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol, Sustainability Benchmarking and Validation for Sustainability Goals

MEMPHIS, Tenn. – At the Cotton Sourcing USA Summit in Scottsdale, Ariz., Cotton Council International President Ted Schneider updated the more than 400 attendees on how the U.S. cotton industry intends to meet its 2025 sustainability goals. Central to his remarks was the introduction of the U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol; an integrated data collection, measurement and verification procedure that will document U.S. cotton production practices and their environmental impact. The data is intended to benchmark farmers’ gains towards the industry goals and will provide the global textile supply chain additional assurances that U.S. cotton is produced in a responsible manner.

 

The U.S. cotton national sustainability goals, as announced last year, aim for the following by 2025:

  • 13% Increase in productivity, i.e. reduced land use per pound of fiber;
  • 18% Increase in irrigation efficiency;
  • 39% Reduction in greenhouse gas emissions;
  • 15% Reduction in energy expenditures;
  • 50% Reduction in soil loss; and
  • 30% Increase in soil carbon.

 

“I would argue that U.S. cotton is already among the most sustainably produced in the world,” Schneider said. As evidence, Schneider cited the comprehensive regulatory environment in the United States, the close connection of U.S. growers to their land, the high adoption rates of precision agricultural techniques by U.S. cotton growers, and a near-forty-year track record of environmental improvement.

 

“We know that U.S. cotton growers continue to embrace new technologies and management techniques that reduce impact and increase yield, but today’s textile industry needs more than just our word,” Schneider explained. “The Trust Protocol is meant to address that need with a tangible and transparent snapshot of U.S. cotton growing practices and the gains resulting from them.”

 

The details of the Protocol are being fine-tuned, and a pilot program will be launched in 2019 and fully implemented with the 2020 cotton crop year. Participating growers would be required to adopt a data tool that allows for the quantitative measurement of key sustainability metrics, such as the FieldPrint Platform from Field to Market. Growers also would complete a self-assessment checklist of best management practices; with a sampling of participating producers subjected to independent verification. The online interface and associated databases are currently being developed by a Memphis-based company The Seam.

NCC Supports U.S. Efforts to Enhance Transparency at WTO

MEMPHIS, Tenn. – The National Cotton Council welcomes the counternotification submitted by the United States regarding domestic support provided to India’s cotton producers.

The NCC also applauds the U.S. Trade Representative’s office and USDA for their efforts to seek transparency in the support provided to cotton producers in other countries, and no country devotes more area to cotton production than India.

The counternotification, recently submitted to the World Trade Organization (WTO) by the United States, covered the 2010-11 through 2016-17 marketing years, when India’s Minimum Price Support payments ranged from 53 percent to 81 percent of the cotton production value.

The NCC thanks the Administration for pushing counternotifications as a necessary step to bring needed transparency to India’s domestic support programs, which is especially important to understanding global cotton markets and the wide-ranging impact these programs have on global cotton and fiber markets.

NCC Welcomes Continued Access to Dicamba

MEMPHIS, Tenn. – The National Cotton Council (NCC) welcomes the decision released yesterday by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that allows cotton producers continued access to Dicamba herbicide.

“Cotton producers across the cotton belt appreciate the EPA’s two-year re-registration of this important crop protection tool,” said Shawn Holladay, producer from TX and chairman of the NCC’s American Cotton Producers. “However, we understand this label will include new and stricter application and use restrictions, and we need clarification on some details before a final determination of the complete implications for use of the product.”

Patrick Johnson, Chairman of the NCC’s Environmental Task Force and a producer from MS, said that the NCC would closely evaluate the final details of the label. “Cotton farmers need affordable, effective weed control and dicamba is an important part of the multifaceted solution,” he said.