Budget Battle Looms; PCG Working On Disaster Assistance, Pay Limits andCSP

Friday,March 14, 2003                        By Shawn Wade

      Lessthan a year has passed since the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002became law. In that time, budget forecasts have continued to go downhill andCongress is looking to tighten the budget belt.

      Foragriculture, it appears that the predictable and repetitious assault on FarmBill provisions that usually comes from those with little or no real concernfor the well being of the U.S. farmer has already begun.

      Firstto step up to plate and make good on his pledge to renew a seemingly constantassault on farm Bill provisions is Iowa Republican Senator Charles Grassley.Senator Grassley successfully added an amendment to the SenateŐs FY2004 BudgetBill during deliberations by the Senate Budget Committee.

      Thenew Grassley amendment would target changes in the area of farm program paymentlimits and do away with several key provisions.

      Toppingthe changes included in the latest Grassley payment limit proposal is the ideato completely gut the current three-entity rule. The amendment would aggregatethe payments from all entities back to the individual and place a hard cap onthe amount the individual could receive.

      GrassleyŐsamendment would also leave the $40,000 limit on direct payments as is, but dropthe payment limit on the counter-cyclical program to $60,000. Finally theGrassley amendment would put a $200,000 cap on LDP/MLG payments and stop theavailability of generic certificates beyond the $200,000 cap.

      Approvalof the amendment required the cooperation of all the Democratic members of theSenate Budget Committee, plus Senator Grassley and two other Republicanmembers.

      Theoffering of the amendment was not unexpected, since Senator Grassley has takenevery opportunity to renew his pledge to submit a payment limit bill.

      Grassleyproposes to shift the estimated $1.398 Billion in savings to the ConservationSecurity Program.

      PlainsCotton Growers will be working hard to keep the Grassley amendment frombecoming law on the basis that payment limitations were thoroughly debated lessthan one year ago during development of the Farm Bill and their effectivenessin relation to the new programs is still unknown.

      PaymentLimitations are also a hot topic at the United States Department of Agricultureas the agency works with the Congressionally authorized Commission on PaymentLimitations to study the effects and structure of current payment limitationrules and to make recommendations to Congress for possible changes.

      PlainsCotton Growers will join the National Cotton Council and other cottonorganizations in submitting comments to the Commission.

      Switchinggears to conservation programs; the new Conservation Security Program isgradually taking shape and USDA is currently accepting comments on variousaspects of the program.

      PCGhas been actively involved in the development of the CSP. The goal has been togive producers from the High Plains region the ability to fully participate inthe program and receive a positive incentive to employ new and innovativemanagement practices.


TIGA Names OrganizationŐs 2003 Ginner of the Year and DistinguishedAssociate

Friday,March 14, 2003                        By Shawn Wade

      The Texas Independent GinnersAssociation named its 2003 Distinguished Associate and Ginner of the Yearwinners at the organizationŐs 2003 Annual Meeting in Austin.

      TIGA introduced G.F. ŇBuzÓ Poage,owner and president of All-Tex Seed in Levelland, Texas as the 2003 DistinguishedAssociate. The award recognizes Poage for his commitment to cotton and theginning industry and for his accomplishments as an independent businessman.

      Mustang Farmers Gin, Inc.Ős D.V.Cook, Jr. of Big Spring, Texas was named the Texas Independent GinnersAssociation Ginner of the Year at the organizationŐs 2003 Annual Meeting inAustin.

      Cook has been involved in farmingand the ginning industry all of his life and has built, supervised and ownedcotton gins in locations throughout Texas and the U.S.