Friday, February 25,2005 By Shawn Wade
The Lubbock Chamber ofCommerceÕs 2005 Washington, DC Fly-In will take place March 1-3 and one of the primarymessages the group will deliver is the importance of agriculture to theregionÕs economy and the devastating impact proposed changes to U.S. farmprograms would have on West Texas.
Leading the Lubbock groupwill be current Chamber of Commerce Chair Linda Gaither and Chair-elect SteveVerett of Plains Cotton Growers, Inc.
The group begins theirWashington rounds on March 2 at a breakfast meeting with District 19Representative Randy Neugebauer, District 11 Representative Mike Conaway, andDistrict 28 Representative Henry Cuellar of San Antonio.
Additional Chamber activitiesinclude private meetings with Representative Neugebauer of Lubbock,Representative Conaway of Midland, District 23 Representative Henry Bonilla ofSan Antonio, Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, and Senator John Cornyn.
Topping the ChamberÕs list ofissues is agriculture program funding and the adverse impact of spending cutsproposed by the Bush Administration in its FY2006 Budget request.
Recognizing that farmers aretypically viewed as the primary beneficiaries of farm program spending, theLubbock contingent will seek to illustrate the broader impact that farm programdollars have on the regionÕs economy.
The group will provideinformation showing how devastating the proposed cuts would be to farmersdirectly and also discuss how the cuts would adversely impact the rest of theregionÕs communities.
One way the Chamber canachieve this goal is to focus on how the majority of farm program dollars flowthrough producers and into the hands of area businesses. By doing so theLubbock Chamber expects to paint a clearer picture of the actual economicactivity supported by farm program spending.
During these meetings, theChamber will also urge each of the legislators to sign onto ÒDear ColleagueÓletters being circulated in the House of Representatives and Senate. The Houseletter is addressed to Budget Committee Chairman Jim Nussle and the Senateletter is addressed to Budget Committee Chairman Judd Gregg and Ranking MemberKent Conrad.
The letters express supportfor a balanced approach to deficit reduction efforts in FY 2006, especially asthey relate to potential cuts to current commodity support programs.
The letters detail the fiscallysound construction of the current Farm Bill, describe how it has alreadyachieved over $16 Billion in savings compared to its estimated cost, and howthe programÕs long-term structure amounts to a multi-year contract between thegovernment and farm families who have developed business plans and madeinvestments based on its provisions.
Other issues the Chamber willhighlight include:
¥ Higher Education: Supportcontinued funding of Texas Tech research projects paid for through federal appropriations,
¥ Healthcare: Discuss issuesinvolving health insurance and tax credits, and proposed changes to Medicareand Medicaid,
¥ Transportation: Supportcontinued funding for the Ports-to-Plains project, discuss issues affecting theoperation and development of facilities and equipment at Lubbock InternationalAirport, discuss public transportation regulatory issues and support thedesignation of a proposed Caprock Xpress route as a branch of the South CentralHigh Speed Rail Line, and
¥ Water/Ag Research: Discusssupport for federal research appropriations efforts for the Plant Stress &Water Conservation Laboratory, support research on desalination, seek changesto programs funding water reuse projects to allow cities like Lubbock tobenefit, and express continued support for federal/state water research thatbenefits the regionÕs agriculture and other water users.
Friday, February 25, 2005 By Shawn Wade
3,277,917 and rising. That isthe total number of bales that have been processed by the USDA AgriculturalMarketing Service Cotton Division classing office in Lubbock through midnightFebruary 23.
The number is a milestone forthe Lubbock Classing office, which has now officially processed a single-seasonrecord 3,277,917 samples from the 2004-crop. And, if setting the record isnÕtimpressive enough, it appears the record will continue to grow as the facilityexpects to receive another 400,000 cotton samples before the 2004 classingseason draws to a close.
The current Lubbock officetotal eclipsed the previous USDA-AMS Cotton Division single-season record setearlier this year by the Memphis, Tennessee classing facility.
Lubbock Office Director KennyDay notes that, based on current reports from area gins, his office will havetested samples from approximately 3.65 million bales of cotton by the time theseason ends. The Lubbock total demonstrates, in measurable terms, the magnitudeof the crop produced on the High Plains in 2004.
How long the record mightstand is anybodyÕs guess, but history indicates it is probably a record thatwill go unchallenged for decades to come.
USDA-AMS Cotton Divisioncotton classing facilities test and assign official quality measurements for avariety of cotton fiber characteristics. Among the fiber properties quantifiedby Cotton Division personnel are fiber color, length, strength, maturity, andlength uniformity. Also measured and reported is the overall level of trash(non-lint content) in the bale.