Disaster Update: House Passes Ag Package

LUBBOCK, October 8, 2004                      By Shawn Wade

      Politicalmaneuvering came close to derailing any opportunity for a 2003/2004 disasterassistance when House Republican leaders dug in their heels on the issue ofbudget off-sets for agriculture disaster aid. Fortunately, a 2003/2004agriculture disaster package was approved and can now go to conference with asimilar proposal approved by the Senate.

      TheHouse agriculture disaster package, sponsored by Lubbock Congressman RandyNeugebauer, was included as part of the Disaster Relief SupplementalAppropriations Bill that will also provide some $11 billion in emergencyassistance for hurricane damage in Florida, Georgia and Alabama.

      TheHouse Bill would create a $2.9 billion dollar agriculture assistance packagethat will be paid by lowering the current spending cap on the ConservationSecurity Program (CSP).

      TheNeugebauer Bill was allowed to move forward after the House Rules Committeeblocked a similar piece of legislation from Congressman Charles Stenholm.

      Stenholm'sbill contained identical language to the agriculture assistance packageapproved as part of Senate FY05 Homeland Security Appropriations Bill and wouldhave provided the assistance without budget offsets in the same manner as otherhurricane assistance is being provided.

      TheNeugebauer proposal provides essentially the same structure for determiningbenefits, but prohibits producers from receiving disaster assistance in anamount greater than 95 percent of the projected value of the crop and includesbudget offsets. The 95 percent benefit cap was part of the 2001/2002 CropDisaster Program.

      Otherdetails of the package include the same loss thresholds for quantity andquality losses as were used in administering the 2000 Crop Disaster Program.

      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.

      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.

      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.

      Thelegislation will now move to conference, most likely as an amendment to theFY05 Homeland Security Appropriations Bill. Washington observers indicate thatCongress is intent on completing the Homeland Security Appropriations Bill withthe Supplemental Assistance Package for hurricane and agriculture losses beforethey adjourn this weekend.



Dist. 19 Congressional Debates October 12&14

Lubbock, October 8, 2004

      Three candidates vying forthe 19th Congressional District seat will meet in two debates scheduled forOctober 12 in Lubbock and October 14 in Abilene.

      The hour-long debates, inwhich Congressman Charlie Stenholm, Congressman Randy Neugebauer and Dr.Richard Peterson have agreed to participate, are coordinated by the LubbockChamber of Commerce and the Abilene Chamber of Commerce. The events areco-hosted by the League of Women Voters, the Texas Tech University StudentGovernment Association and McMurry University.

      The October 12 debate inLubbock will be held at 7 p.m. at Texas Tech University's Allen Theater, andthe October 14 debate in Abilene is scheduled for 6 p.m. at Radford Auditoriumon the McMurry University campus.

      Tickets will be required foradmission, and all three campaigns will be issued a share of tickets todistribute at their discretion. As of Monday, a live broadcast feed of theLubbock event to be provided by LISD-TV had been confirmed by KUPT Channel 22,KCBD Channel 11; KLBK Channel 13, FoxTalk 950 AM; Fox AccuWeather (audio only);as well as KRBC TV, KTAB TV and KWKC Radio in Abilene.

      For more information, contactthe Lubbock Chamber of Commerce at 761-7000.

      Event sponsors are the AARPof Texas, Texas Grain Sorghum Producers, Plains Cotton Growers, Corn ProducersAssociation of Texas, and MinuteMan Press of Lubbock.

Editor's Note: Plains Cotton Growers, Inc. does not support or endorsecandidates in political races. PCG sponsorship of this event is provided solelyto support the electoral process.


U.S. Appeal Is Next Step in Brazil Cotton Case

LUBBOCK, October 8, 2004                      By Shawn Wade

      It appears that the nextphase of the WTO Brazil cotton case is about to begin. Recent talk implies thatBrazil will soon request that the WTO delegate body adopt the findings of thedispute panel report that found U.S. cotton programs were not fully compliantwith the Uruguay Round Agriculture Agreement and caused serious prejudice to Brazil'sinterest by suppressing cotton prices.

      As soon as the Brazil requestis filed the United States is expected to file its appeal of the disputepanel's findings and formally begin the 90-day appeal process.