GrassleyOffers New Payment Limit Reforms

Friday, March 5,2004                              By Shawn Wade

      IowaSenator Charles Grassley has cleared his first hurdle and gained Senate Budget Committeeapproval of an amendment that would make significant changes to current paymentlimitation rules included in the 2002 Farm Bill. The amendment was offeredduring the Committee’s mark-up of the Senate’s FY05 Budget Resolution.

     Grassley’s crusade against the current system continues even though the Senatefailed to support similar proposals during and after debate of the 2002 FarmBill. He has also continued to pursue the issue despite the fact that theCongressionally mandated USDA Payment Limit Commission, developed toinvestigate his concerns, decided not to suggest any changes to the systemafter an in-depth study of the issues involved.

     Texas Senator John Cornyn, who sits on the Budget Committee, has been a staunchsupporter of the provisions of the 2002 Farm Bill and voted against theGrassley amendment.

      “Istrongly believe that we must defend the 2002 Farm Bill authored by formerHouse Agriculture Committee Chairman Larry Combest and signed by thePresident,” said Cornyn after the Budget Committee vote. “Unfortunately, wewere not able to defeat the payment limitations amendment today, but we willhave other opportunities to block this effort to change current paymentlimitation provisions. We just need to keep fighting for Texas agriculture.”

     Bolstering Grassley’s renewed efforts was the fact that the projected savingsfrom the amendment he offered suddenly grew more than five fold. This is acurious development since improved price outlooks for most major crops indicateactual program expenditures will be considerably lower in the future.

      Themost recent Congressional Budget Office (CBO) scoring of the Grassley amendmentincreased an astounding $1 Billion over last year and brought the projectedfive-year savings to just more than $1.2 Billion.

     Grassley has indicated that he would use the savings from his amendment toprovide $25 million in additional funding for value-added programs, fully fundthe conservation security program at $185 million and then allocate theremainder to nutrition programs.

     Inclusion of the amendment in the Budget Resolution does not mean it will beincluded in Congress’ final FY05 Budget Resolution. The Senate’s version muststill be approved and then reconciled with the House of Representatives FY05Budget Resolution.

      Also,the blueprint provided by the FY05 Budget Resolution is not binding on theSenate Appropriations Committee, which will eventually develop specific FY05budget figures, or the Senate Agriculture Committee, which will also have toapprove FY05 Agriculture Budget language.


PCIPApproves 2004 Projects; Continues To Support Producers Through Research

Friday, March 5,2004                               By Shawn Wade

     Representatives of the Plains Cotton Improvement Committee met March 3 to hearprogress reports on 2003 Plains Cotton Improvement Program projects and toconsider 2004 crop year project requests.

      ThePlains Cotton Improvement Program is a one of a kind program overseen by PlainsCotton Growers, Inc. and funded through the voluntary contributions of cottonproducers across the Texas High Plains.

      Theprogram, which originated in the early 1980’s, supports cotton breeding andagronomic research activities. It is focused on providing variety performanceinformation and facilitating the development of new cotton varieties for theHigh Plains region.

     Agronomic issues are addressed by the PCIP through cotton breeding, large-plotvariety trials designed to give producers a fair comparison of cotton varietiesand technologies, disease resistance and textile processing performance.

      “Thework done by researchers such as John Gannaway, Randy Boman and Terry Wheeleris critically important to the cotton producers of the High Plains,” says PCICChairman Dale Swinburn of Tulia.

     “Whether it is providing meaningful agronomic and economic measures ofperformance between cotton varieties currently available or striving to instillbetter performance characteristics and disease resistance into the cottonvarieties of the future, the PCIP is a producer directed research investmentthat is unparalleled anywhere in the world,” concludes Swinburn.

     Overall the PCIP approved funding totaling $312,500 to support four researchprojects in 2004. Projects funded include Cotton Breeding and GermplasmImprovement research by Texas Agricultural Experiment Station Cotton BreederJohn Gannaway, Large-plot Systems’ test conducted by Texas CooperativeExtension Cotton Specialist Randy Boman, Bacterial Blight and Fusarium wiltscreening research by TAES Plant Pathologist Terry Wheeler and a new textileperformance evaluation of high quality cotton directed by Dr. Eric Hequet atthe International Textile Center of Texas Tech University.



Mark your calendar:

PlainsCotton Growers, Inc.

47thAnnual Meeting

Thursday,April 1, 2004

Lubbock Memorial CivicCenter – Banquet Hall