Preliminary WTO Report Sparks Industry Outcry

LUBBOCK, April 30, 2004                    By Shawn Wade

      U.S.farmers have reacted with an expected level of outrage and frustration to pressreports generated from recently leaked highlights of a World Trade Organization(WTO) panel's preliminary ruling in a case brought against the U.S. cottonprogram by Brazil.

      Thepanel, which is apparently set to decide that a large part of the U.S. cottonprogram oversteps the levels of support allowed by the current WTO agreement,released its preliminary report to both U.S. and Brazilian officials on April26.

      Thepreliminary report is supposed to be kept confidential so that both partieshave an opportunity to review the panel's findings, submit comments and requestchanges to the final document.

      Initialreaction in the U.S has been both forceful and to the point. The cottonindustry and the Bush Administration have been quick to point out that currentU.S. farm policy is written to specifically fit within the WTO rules and limitsagreed to during the negotiation process.

      Administrationofficials have also said it is their intention to seek changes to the panel'sfindings, and if necessary, appeal the decision to the fullest extent possible.

      InCongress, and elsewhere, observers are also coming to the uncomfortablerealization that the WTO decision, if allowed to dictate U.S. policy, amountsto the giving away of at least a portion of this nations sovereignty andability to carry out internal policy to others.

      Thebig question on the minds of U.S. cotton growers, as well as growers of otherprogram crops, is what effect will the WTO panel's decision have on them. Theanswer is not an easy one to figure out.

      Shortterm, U.S. growers will likely see very little, if any, effect on the way theydo business or in the way U.S. farm programs are administered and delivered.

      Longerterm, the potential effects are simply too diverse, and the mechanics that willdetermine them to numerous, to even begin speculation.

      Thekey thing to remember is that, whatever the WTO report says, the timetable forany impact to U.S. farm programs or future trade deals will most likely bemeasured in years not months.

 

2003-crop Upland Cotton Weighted Average Farm Price Through March 2004

      The2003 Counter-cyclical payment rate authorized under the 2002 Farm Bill will bebased on the 12-month Weighted Average Price Received by growers. For cottonthe 12-month Weighted Average Price will reflect price and bales marketed forthe 2003 marketing year. The 2003 cotton marketing year began in August 1, 2003and ends July 31, 2004.

      Thefollowing table shows the average price received each month by farmers and theassociated weighted average price based on cumulative bales marketed throughMarch 2004.

 

Average PriceReceived Through March 2004

For 2003-crop UplandCotton

(Weighted by balesmarketed)

 

Bales Marketed

Prices

 

(000's of Running bales)

(cents/Lb.)

 

Monthly

Cum.

Monthly

Weighted

August

420

420

46.30

46.30

September

769

1,189

55.70

52.38

October

1,783

2,972

68.00

61.75

November

1,912

4,884

63.40

62.40

December

1,938

6,822

64.10

62.88

January

1,546

8,368

62.50

62.81

February

1,422

9,790

62.70

62.79

March

167

9,957

59.40

62.74

April

na

na

59.50*

na

Source: NationalAgricultural Statistics Service; * = preliminary

 

High Plains Planting Season Set To Begin; Producers Look for Good Start

LUBBOCK, April 30, 2004                    By Shawn Wade

      Excellentsubsoil moisture and warming soil temperatures are adding fuel to the normalcalendar induced anticipation felt by cotton producers across the High Plains.

      Withthose hardy few that always seem to get a little bit of seed in the groundbefore May 1 getting started, the bulk of the producers on the High Plains arequickly wrapping up last minute preparations and getting ready to kick off the2004 growing season.

      It isestimated that the High Plains will plant 3.5-3.75 million acres in 2004. Itappears that an estimated 100,000-acre increase projected early in the year forthe northern panhandle will not materialize. Cotton acreage is still expectedto increase and total 50,000-60,000 acres.

      Thedecision to plant fewer cotton acres in this newly developing production areais being influenced by stronger grain prices and a downturn in cotton pricesover the past couple of months.

      Forgrowers in the rest of the High Plains, cotton will continue to be the crop ofchoice. Higher than normal winter rainfall puts the area in an excellentsubsoil moisture situation going in.

      As isalways the case, however, warm days and steady spring winds are quickly dryingthe top layer of soil and most producers agree they will need another rain toget the 2004 crop started off right.

 

Don't Forget:

2004 Direct & Counter-cyclical Program

Sign-up Ends June 1, 2004