Agriculture Facing Stiff Test During
Budget Reconciliation Debate

Friday, August 26, 2005                             By Shawn Wade

      With a September 16 BudgetReconciliation deadline looming, members of the U.S. House of Representativesand Senate Agriculture Committees will have to act quickly to stay on track inthe Budget Reconciliation process.

      For Plains Cotton Growers,Inc., the National Cotton Council and the rest of U.S. agriculture the goal forthe next several weeks is to reinforce the importance of maintaining thestructure of the current farm program and that achieving the required savingsis best accomplished through equitable reductions across all programs under thejurisdiction of the Agriculture Committees.

      House and Senate AgricultureCommittee leaders, Representative Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) and Senator SaxbyChambliss (R-GA), have stated their intention to spread the necessary cutsacross all programs and to preserve the structure of current farm law.

      The U.S. cotton industryshares those goals and will work to ensure that key program components likepayment limitations and loan redemptions with certificates are also maintained.

      On a related issue, thecotton industry is working to develop a reasonable timeframe for the eventualelimination of the Cotton Step 2 program. Step 2's elimination is required bythe World Trade Organization to bring the U.S. into compliance with the WTOAgreement on Agriculture.

      The FY 2005-2006 BudgetReconciliation savings target for Agriculture spending is just over $3 Billionover the next ten years with a first year savings target of $163 Million. Upontheir return, the House and Senate Agriculture Committees will finalize theirspending plans and submit their proposed legislation to the Budget Committee onSeptember 16.

      Unfortunately, the support ofthe Agriculture Committee Chairman will not be enough to prevent furtherattempts to significantly undermine the effectiveness of the U.S. farm programby those seeking to change the program outside the structure of a formal farmbill debate.

      A regular contributor tothese back-door efforts to alter the Farm Bill is Senator Charles Grassley(R-IA) who is again seeking to make changes to the program through paymentlimit reform but with a new and broader reaching twist.

      Grassley's latest attempt toalter the current Farm Program would halve the amount an individual couldreceive from the Direct and Counter-cyclical payment programs and also reducesmarketing loan program benefits by strictly limiting the amount of loan benefitsa farmer could receive when commodity prices are low.

      Full access to the MarketingLoan Program has been a cornerstone of U.S. commodity support programs fordecades and is the only farm program element that extends a minimal amount ofprice protection to all of a farmer's production.

      Thisis especially critical to cotton producers on the High Plains who canexperience significant production swings due to factors they have little or nocontrol over and depend on the price floor provided by the marketing loanprogram.

      Thecoming weeks and months are expected to provide a preview of the challengesHigh Plains cotton producers and all of agriculture face as they work tomaintain the current program during the 2007 Farm Bill debate. High Plainscotton producers will depend greatly on the help of Senators John Cornyn andKay Bailey Hutchison and High Plains Congressmen Mike Conaway, Randy Neugebauerand Mac Thornberry to be successful.

      Agriculturehas a good story to tell during the budget reconciliation debate. The currentFarm Program was carefully crafted to meet the domestic needs of Americanfarmers and ranchers and to fully comply with our international commitments asthey were defined at the time of its passage. The farm program is designed to keepU.S. farmers on a level playing field internationally, and to keep them fromhaving to compete against the treasuries of its foreign competitors.

      It isno accident that when the playing field is level U.S. agriculture is able tocompete for and win new customers while also providing a safe, dependable andaffordable food and fiber supply for the citizens of the United States.

      Agricultureis the foundation upon which the U.S. was built. The modest investment we makein farm programs, equal to just one-half of one percent of all federalspending, provides the safety net that protects an economic segmentcontributing 20 percent of this nation's Gross Domestic Product.

      Atits heart the Farm Program is a jobs bill just like other important legislativeinitiatives such as the recently completed Energy and Transportation bills. TheU.S. farm program provides critical support to hundreds of thousands offarmers, from the smallest hobby/lifestyle farm up to larger stand-aloneoperations that provide a majority of the income for one or more farm families.

      Yes,farmers benefit from farm programs. Equally important though is to recognizethat the industries that provide farmers with the seed, fertilizer, energy,machinery and services necessary to make the engine of U.S. agriculture turnbenefit even more.

 

TBWEF Mails 2005Assessment Notices;
Full Payment By Sept. 15 Earns 2% Discount

Friday, August 26, 2005                             By Shawn Wade

      The Texas Boll WeevilEradication Foundation recently mailed 2005 boll weevil eradication assessmentnotices to cotton producers in eight active eradication zones in the HighPlains and Rolling Plains.

      Boll weevil eradicationassessment payments are due September 30, 2005. Growers who pay their 2005assessments in full before September 15 qualify for a 2 percent discount ontheir 2005 assessment.

      The 2005 assessments arebased on acreage and production practice information cotton producers providethe USDA Farm Service Agency when they certify their crops. If there is anerror in the acreage or practice information on their bill, the grower willneed to have the information corrected at their local FSA office and thenforward the corrected information to the Foundation.

      Growers with failed acres areeligible to receive a credit on those acres completely destroyed prior to thefinal certification date. Qualifying acres must remain free of all hostablecotton until a killing freeze to receive the assessment credit.

      To aid area growers who havebeen affected by adverse weather conditions, the TBWEF also offers paymentextension agreements for producers whose accounts are current.

      "For those havingdifficulty paying their assessment, help is available by contacting theassessments department and arranging an extension agreement," said ChiefFinancial Officer Tina Ballard.

      Producers entering into anextension agreement must make a 10 percent down payment, and they will becharged a late fee of 1 percent per month until their accounts are paid. Thislate fee begins on the date the signed agreement and down payment are receivedby the TBWEF Assessments Department. Producers who are delinquent in paymentand who do not have an extension agreement are subject to a late fee of 1.5percent per month.

      Producers with extensionagreements have 150 days to pay their accounts.

      For more information contactthe TBWEF Assessments Department in Abilene at (866) 672-2800.

      The Texas Boll WeevilEradication Foundation is a nonprofit, grower-initiated and funded organizationdedicated to eliminating the cotton boll weevil from the state in the most costeffective and environmentally responsible manner possible.

 

High Plains Crop Tour & Field Day Schedule *

August/September 2005

August 31

Gaines County Ag Tour. Contact Terry Millican, CEA-AG, at 432-758-4006.

September 9

Swisher County Forage Meeting. Contact Michael Clawson, CEA-AG, at 806-995-3721.

September 13

Yoakum County Crop Tour. Contact Arlan Gentry, CEA-AG, at 806-456-2263.

September 14

Lubbock County Crop Tour. Contact Mark Brown, CEA-AG, at 806-775-1680.

September 14

Cochran County Crop Tour. Contact Jeff Wyatt, CEA-AG, at 806-266-5215.

September 15

Dawson County Crop Tour. Contact Tommy Doederlein, EA-IPM, at 806-872-5978.

September 15

Terry County Crop Tour. Contact Chris Bishop, CEA-AG, at 806-637-4060, or Scott Russell, EA-IPM, at 806-637-8792.

September 15

D&PL Field Day, eight miles south of Lorenzo on the Steve Chapman Farm, 9:00 a.m. Call 806-740-1600.

September 16

Swisher County Crop Tour. Contact Michael Clawson, CEA-AG, at 806-995-3726.

September 20

Floyd County Ag Tour. Contact J.D. Ragland, CEA-AG, at 806-983-4912.

September 21

West Texas Ag Chemicals Institute Annual Meeting, Holiday Inn Lubbock Plaza Hotel, Lubbock, TX

September 22

Bayer CropScience/FiberMax Field Day, phone 806-765-8844 for more information

September 22

Lynn County Crop Tour. Contact Bryan Reynolds, CEA-AG, at 806-561-4562.

September 28

All-Tex Seed Field Day, Levelland, Texas,

Call 806-894-4901 for more information.

*To add an event tothis calendar contact PCG at 806-792-4904