Senate Includes 03/04 Crop Disaster
Package In Homeland Security Spending Bill

LUBBOCK, September 17, 2004                By Shawn Wade

      Withthe quick addition of an emergency agricultural disaster assistance package tothe 2005 Homeland Security appropriations bill, producers who lost crops in2003 or 2004 have been offered a glimmer of hope that help is on the way.

      Offeredas an amendment by Senator Max Baucus (D-Montana), and co-sponsored by 15 otherSenators from both sides of the aisle, the "Emergency AgriculturalDisaster Assistance" provision would provide disaster assistance for crop,quality and livestock losses incurred in 2003 or 2004.

      The"emergency" designation allows the provision to move forward withoutthe need for offsetting budget cuts. Estimates for the proposal indicate itwould provide almost $3 billion in emergency assistance to crop and livestockproducers.

      Theproposal is based on the 2001 disaster program that provided relief to growerswho suffered losses during the 2000 crop year.

      Theamendment authorizes the Secretary to make assistance available in the samemanner as provided under sections 806 and 815 of the Agriculture, RuralDevelopment, Food and Drug Administration and Related Agencies AppropriationsAct of 2001.

      TheHouse passed its version of the Homeland Security appropriations bill beforethe August recess without a crop disaster component. Attaching the agriculturaldisaster assistance amendment to the Senate version means a final decision onthe measure will be hammered out during the House/Senate Conference on theHomeland Security spending bill.

      Thefollowing Senators have been named to the Homeland Security conferencecommittee: Thad Cochran (R-MS); Ted Stevens (R-AK); Arlen Specter (R-PA); PeteDomenici (R-NM); Mitch McConnell (R-KY); Richard Shelby (R-AL); Judd Gregg(R-NH); Ben Campbell (R-CO); Larry Craig (R-ID); Robert Byrd (D-WV); DanielInouye (D-HI); Earnest Hollings (D-SC); Patrick Leahy (D-VT); Tom Harkin(D-IA); Barbara Mikulski (D-MD); Herb Kohl (D-WI); and Patty Murray (D-WA). TheHouse of Representatives had not named conferees at the time of this article.

      Toget a better idea about what the amendment proposes, a look back at the 2000disaster program provides the most clues.

      Toppingthe list of good things about the proposal is that it authorizes the Secretaryof Agriculture to spend "such sums as are necessary" to carry out theprogram. This means payments would not have to be pro-rated. In fact, the onlybenefit limit that would be enforced is the usual $80,000 per person paymentlimitation.

      Eligibilityfor crop loss benefits will be based on whether or not a qualifying lossoccurred on an eligible crop. Eligible losses will be those in excess of 35percent of the higher of: the producer's Actual Production History (APH) yield;the 5-year NASS County average yield; or, the Non-insured Assistance Program(NAP) approved yield.

      Eligibilityfor livestock assistance will be initially determined by whether or not theproducer's operation is in a county that received an emergency designation as aprimary or contiguous disaster county after January 1, 2003.

      Croploss benefits would be determined by first calculating an amount of eligibleloss. Once calculated, the eligible production amount would be multiplied bythe established payment rate.

      Paymentrates for insured commodities would be calculated as 65 percent of the cropinsurance price election. Uninsured crops would be paid at a lesser rateequaling 60 percent of the crop insurance price election. Payment rates fornon-insurable crops would equal 65 percent of the 5-year NASS average price.

      Sofar, no specific language has indicated if cottonseed assistance will be partof the final package.

      Inaddition to physical losses, producers will also be able to apply for QualityLoss Assistance in the manner offered during the 2000 Crop Loss Assistanceprogram.

      Inthat program producers were able to apply for quality losses that exceeded 20percent of the normal value of the commodity. Benefits under this program wereavailable to cotton producers on a bale-by-bale basis and were extremelybeneficial to many growers who suffered marginal physical losses in 2000.


PCG Officers Preparing For Washington Trip

LUBBOCK, September 17, 2004                By Shawn Wade

      DisasterAssistance, the WTO, and 2005 Agricultural Appropriations top the list ofimportant national issues that will affect cotton producers on the High Plainsin the months ahead.

      Inorder to make a positive impact on these issues Plains Cotton Growers, Inc. willtake its efforts to Washington, DC September 27-30. The PCG contingent will besitting down and talking directly to the Washington-based decision makers thatwill direct the outcome of these issues.

      Makingthe trip on behalf of the organization will be PCG President Rickey Bearden,Vice President Mike Hughes, Secretary Treasurer Barry Evans, Board ChairmanMark Williams and Executive Vice President Steve Verett.

      "Withso many issues currently perched on the front burner, the trips timing couldn'tbe better," says Verett. "By scheduling appointments with TexasCongressional leaders, USDA officials and White House staff, we plan to coveras much territory as possible on key cotton issues."

      Withthe goal of getting all of that done and more, the PCG contingent plans tocover as many bases as possible while in the Nation's Capitol.




Calendar of Events

      Septemberis a busy month across the High Plains as growers are given the opportunity toparticipate in a wide variety of Texas Cooperative Extension and industry croptours. In an effort to help producers plan to attend these tours, a list ofcounty crop tours will be included as soon as this information becomesavailable.



Event \ Location \ Directions:


Sept. 21

Floyd Co. Crop Tour

Location: TBA

Call Floyd Co. Extension Office



Sept. 22

Moore/Sherman Co. Crop Tour

Location: TBA

Call Moore Co. Extension Office



Sept. 22

All-Tex Seed Field Day

Location: All-Tex Seed Headquarters, 2200 West Avenue, Levelland

RSVP required by calling 806-894-4901 or 800-725-5839


10:00 a ;

Lunch Served until 1:30 p

Sept. 23

D&PL Cotton Field Day

Location: South of Lorenzo.

Directions: From Hwy 62 turn south on Hwy 378 at Hurst Farm Supply. Drive to FM 40 and turn right. Follow the Field Day signs.

RSVP by 9/17 /04. Call 1-888-729-6787 ext.689; or 806-740-1600 ext 689.


9:30 a



10:00 a

Tour Start


Sept. 24

Lamb Co. Crop Tour

Call Lamb Co. Extension Office



Sept. 27

Harvest Aid Meeting

Location: Buster's Gin, Ropesville


9:00 a

Sept. 28

Crosby Co. Crop Tour

Location: TBA

Call Crosby Co. Extension Office



Sept. 30

Stoneville Field Day

Location: Stoneville Research Station

Directions: 3.2 miles East of Idalou on US HWY 82/82 (next to Apple Country Orchard)

9:00 a – 2:00 p