Beltwide Presentations Focus On Key Issues

Friday, January 7, 2005                      By Shawn Wade

      The 2005 Beltwide CottonConferences provided the stage and a high-powered slate of speakers providedcotton producers and industry leaders a wealth of information about the keyissues and challenges facing the industry in 2005.

      Opening topics ranged from apreview of 2005 legislative challenges to the importance of variety selectionon a producers ability to market their crop and concluded with a generallyoptimistic 2005 market outlook from long-time Beltwide contributor William B.Dunavant, Jr.

      Sponsored by the NationalCotton Council, the 2005 Beltwide Conference included reports from NationalCotton Council staff, producer leaders and key industry figures.

      Among the first-day speakerswere NCC Chairman Woody Anderson of Colorado City, Texas; John Maguire, NCCVice President-Washington Operations; Gary Adams, NCC Vice President-Economicand Policy Analysis; and William Dunavant, Jr., CEO of Dunavant Enterprises ofMemphis, TN.

      Maguire and Andersondiscussed many of the challenges facing the industry on the legislative, andtrade fronts. Maguire also provided an in-depth description of the Washingtonlegislative landscape and highlighted the many challenges that await cotton andthe rest of agriculture in 2005.

      Legislatively, Maguire notedthat in 2005 the FY2006 budget debate would be a top priority for agriculture.The bottom line message delivered by the pair was the importance of theindustry working together to defend Ag programs during the budget developmentprocess to keep agriculture from being asked to do more than its fair share.

      When discussing thechallenges, Maguire added that trade issues and the next farm bill will also beissues that garner significant attention in 2005. He explained that farm billhearings are already scheduled for later in the year and would mark the startof the process to develop the next Farm Bill.

      In addition to thelegislative and trade updates, the fist day’s general session concluded with a2005 market outlook from long-time Beltwide contributor and cotton industryleader William B. Dunavant, Jr.

      Dunavant’s comments quicklytook a poignant turn when he announced that his 2005 Market Outlook would bethe last time he would take the stage at the Beltwide Conferences as he wouldsoon be stepping down as Chief Executive Officer of Dunavant Enterprises.

      Following his announcement,Dunavant provided his usual thorough review of the current market situation anddiscussed his thoughts on what would transpire in 2005.

      Dunavant reported that 2004’srecord world production 115.5 million bales would ultimately result in a2004-2005 carryover figure of some 46.9 million bales and set the stage forreduced world acreage and production during the 2005 growing season.

      Dunavant also foresaw asmaller U.S. production number in 2005 on the heels of U.S. carryover more thandoubling from the current 3.5 million bale level to 7.9 million bales at theend of the 2004 marketing year.

      The bright side of Dunavant’sreport was his belief that consumption will continue to increase through the2005 marketing year and would, in combination with reduced 2005 productionlevels, slightly higher prices and a decrease in both world and U.S. carryover stocks.

      The critical component of themix according to Dunavant will be China and that country’s increasing need forcotton. Dunavant noted that as long as the U.S. produces the high qualitycotton Chinese mills demand, U.S. cotton growers would continue to be a majorsupplier of raw cotton to Chinese mills.

      Many other Beltwide speakersshared Dunavant’s focus on China as a primary destination for U.S. cotton in2005 and beyond.


Senate Ag Committee Holds Confirmation Hearing for Bush Ag SecretaryNominee

Friday, January 7, 2005                      By Shawn Wade

      The Senate Ag Committeeconducted a confirmation hearing for Bush Ag Secretary nominee Mike Johanns ofNebraska.

      The hearing resulted in aunanimous vote to approve the nomination from members of the Senate AgricultureCommittee. The nomination next moves to the full Senate for what is expected tobe an easy confirmation vote. Final approval of Johanns’ nomination will allowhim to immediately assume leadership of the United States Department ofAgriculture.

      Johanns will resign hisposition as Nebraska Governor immediately following completion of theconfirmation process.


USDA Deregulation Paves Way For Broader RoundupReady Flex Trials in 2005

Friday, January 7, 2005                      By Shawn Wade

      Representatives from MonsantoCorporation have announced that a decision by the United States Department ofAgriculture to deregulate the testing procedures for RoundupReady Flextechnology would result in more opportunities to evaluate the technology duringfield trials in 2005.

      The move is the first step inthe process that will eventually make RoundupReady Flex technology commerciallyavailable in 2006.

      According to Monsantotechnical services representatives attending the 2005 Beltwide CottonConferences, the USDA move will make a visible difference to High Plains cottongrowers interested in evaluating the new technology.

      High Plains growers will seean increase in the number of RoundupReady Flex trials that will be conducted in2005. Plans are now in the works for 20-30 separate tests that will allowgrowers to see the technology at a location near them throughout the year.

      During the 2005 growingseason Monsanto expects to receive the final approvals it needs for thetechnology that will allow them to offer the technology to growers in 2006.


FSA Clarifies Delinquent Status For Farm Loan Program Participants

Friday, January 7, 2005                      By Shawn Wade

      In an effort to avoidproducer confusion and inconvenience, the USDA Farm Service Agency hasclarified rules used to determine when producers participating in the FSA FarmLoan Program are considered delinquent and how that status affects theirability to participate in various FSA programs.

      Prompting the Agency’s actionwas the concern that the term “delinquent” has multiple definitions as itapplies to various FSA programs and could inadvertently create problems forproducers.

      Plains Cotton Growers hasworked closely with FSA personnel in Texas and Washington and with the NationalCotton Council to obtain the clarification.

      The FSA notice, LP-1979,specifies that a producer is not considered delinquent until 90 days after thedue date on a loan made to them through the FSA farm loan program.

      FSA’s clarification insuresHigh Plains producers who are waiting to have their 2004 crop ginned will notbe deemed ineligible to receive farm program benefits, such as the ability touse the marketing loan program, even though they might have unable been to payoff an FSA loan by the scheduled due date.