U.S. SupremeCourt Rules In Beef R&P Case

Friday, May 27,2005                                By Shawn Wade

      In a 6-3 decision, the UnitedStates Supreme Court has rejected a First Amendment challenge to the BeefPromotion and Research Act and that industry's marketing program, "Beef: It'swhat's for dinner."

      In the ruling, the SupremeCourt reversed a lower court decision and held that the beef program is a formof "government speech" and therefore immune to challenge as a free speech issueunder the First Amendment.

      The decision clarifies thatcommodity promotion programs do not infringe the First Amendment rights ofindividuals required to fund them when the government defines the centralmessage that is communicated and also oversees program operation.

      The majority opinion wasdelivered by Justice Antonin Scalia and signed by Chief Justice WilliamRehnquist, Clarence Thomas and Sandra Day O'Conner. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsbergconcurred with the decision, but provided a separate opinion. The threejustices dissenting in the decision were David Souter, John Paul Stevens andAnthony Kennedy.

      This is particularly goodnews for the U.S. cotton industry as it deals with similar court challenges tothe nearly 40 year-old Cotton Research and Promotion Program.

      The cotton industry is in theprocess of dealing with two challenges brought by a group of cotton textileimporters. One case is an administrative challenge filed with USDA and thesecond is a lawsuit filed in the U.S. Court of International Trade.

      It is important to note thatthe cotton cases will ultimately be judged on their own merits, but the SupremeCourt finding in the beef case is important because it is the first time that aprogram of this type has definitively been identified as a form of "governmentspeech."

      National Cotton CouncilChairman Woods Eastland says the Supreme Court decision is great news for beefproducers and cotton farmers alike and should clarify the law regarding theconstitutionality of agricultural research and promotion programs like theCotton Research and Promotion Program.

      In dealing with the casesbrought against the Cotton Research and Promotion Program, the cotton industryhas formed the Cotton Research and Promotion Defense Council to act as theliaison between the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Department ofAgriculture (USDA) who have primary responsibility for defending the cottonprogram.

      Plains Cotton Growers isactively involved in the effort led by the Cotton Research and PromotionDefense Council as the contact point for the Texas Cotton Producers (TCP)organization which is one of four organizations acting as an intervener in thecotton case. PCG Executive Vice President Steve Verett has also been grantedthe authority to represent TCP as the cotton case moves forward.

 

"Today's Ag with JimStewart"
Debuts May31 on KRFE AM580

Friday, May27,2005                                By Shawn Wade

      High Plains agriculture welcomesthe return of an old friend May 31 with the debut of KRFE AM580's all new"Today's Ag with Jim Stewart." The new show will air from 1:30-2:30 p.m. Mondaythrough Friday and provide the latest in agriculture news, weather and marketinformation to area farmers and ranchers.

      Stewart, a veteran agbroadcaster with over 30 years of experience reporting the news and issuesimportant to West Texas agriculture, returns to the airwaves at the stationthat gave him his start in the late 1970's under the tutelage of the late "BigEd" Wilkes.

      "Today's Ag with Jim Stewart"will offer Stewart's patented brand of news and interviews. Regular features ofthe show include interviews with crop and commodity experts from across WestTexas as well as regular updates from the area's elected representativesserving in Washington, DC and Austin.

      In addition to the news ofthe day a primary focus of "Today's Ag with Jim Stewart" will be Jim wrappingup each day's commodity market activity after the close with marketobservations and commentary describing the factors that contributed to theday's trading activity.

 

LubbockClassing Office's Final 2004 Quality Report; Lamesa Office Director WellsRetires

Friday, May27,2005                                By Shawn Wade

      While they haven't quiteturned out all the lights at Lubbock's USDA Cotton Classing office, Classingoffice Director Kenny Day issued the office's Final 2004-crop classing reporton Monday May 23, 8 months and 3,679,364 bales after the office issued itsfirst 2004 report on September 23, 2004.

      In the process Day and thestaff of the Lubbock office have set a new all-time record for cotton samplesclassed at a single location. The previous single office classing record of3.165 million bales was held for just a few weeks earlier in the season by theMemphis, Tennessee facility.

      Quality measurements for the2004-crop classed at Lubbock covered a broad range and contributed to thedescription of this year's crop as a mixed bag that provided something for justabout any buyer's needs.

      The bulk (57.7%) of the cropwas classified as Color grades 31 (15.5%) or 41 (42.2%). Approximately 38percent of the 2004 crop had Color readings below 41.

      Lubbock's average length forthe season was a respectable 34.23 or just over 1-1/16th inch. Over43 percent of the 2004 crop showed length measurements of 35 or longer.

      Micronaire readings averaged3.62 for the season even though almost 35 percent of the crop receivedMicronaire readings below 3.5.

      Strength readings at theLubbock office average 28.48 grams per tex for the season.

      The 2004-crop took almostexactly 8 months to process and will go down as a crop that few people will everforget. For the folks at the Lubbock Classing Office, the time spent onreflecting about the record crop will be exceedingly short as cotton plantingis already well past the halfway mark for the 2005 crop.

      With another crop already inthe ground, the job of getting the Lubbock office ready to class the first baleof the 2005 crop just about four short months from today is already underway.

 

LAMESA USDA CLASSING OFFICE
DIRECTOR ALANWELLS RETIRING JUNE 3

      Longtime AMS employee AlanWells wraps up a 40-year career with the USDA June 3 when he officially stepsdown as Director of Lamesa Cotton Classing office.

      Wells started with the CottonDivision in 1966 as a field rep in the Austin, Texas classing office and workedin that office until it closed in 1983. From Austin, Alan moved to Greenwood,Mississippi before heading to the Memphis, Tennessee office in 1988. In 1991Wells returned to Texas working in the Waco and Abilene Classing offices.

      In 1997 Wells was namedDirector of the Lamesa Cotton Classing office. Wells was well respected andwell liked by the growers and ginners he served through the Lamesa office andhis experience will undoubtedly be missed.

      Anyone heading by the LamesaClassing office before June 3 is encouraged to drop by and wish Alan well andsay Good-by to a longtime friend of the cotton industry.

High Plains Crop PestScouting Workshop

Friday, May27,2005                                By Shawn Wade

      A High Plains Crop PestScouting Workshop has been scheduled for June 1, 2005 at the Ollie LinerCenter, South Business Hwy 27, in Plainview, Texas.

      The one-day workshop is freeand designed to train those interested in improving their ability to scout areacrop pests. The workshop will cover cotton, corn and sorghum pests. The morningprogram will be devoted entirely to cotton topics and a short worker protectiontraining session. Those interested in obtaining a pesticide handlers card (EPAgreen card) can attend just this portion of the program (11:00 a.m to noon).Once obtained, this card is valid for five-years.

      After lunch the program willaddress pests in other commodities, recognition of herbicide damage, weedidentification and plant diseases of cotton, corn and sorghum.

      Up to 5 CEU's, 1 hour of lawsand regulations and 4 hours of IPM, from the Texas Department of Agriculturefor those with a private, commercial or non-commercial pesticide license willbe available to workshop participants. There is no fee to attend this programand questions can be directed to the Hale County Extension office at806-291-5274.