Hurricane Katrina Could Temper Ag Cuts;
Alters Budget Reconciliation Timetable

Friday, September 9, 2005                         By Shawn Wade

      Hurricane Katrina's effectsare already spreading throughout the nation's capitol as political andlegislative agendas are rapidly reworked to accommodate federal responses tothe disaster.

      One notable situationregarding Washington's September legislative landscape is the disruption ofbudget reconciliation timetables in both the House of Representatives and theSenate.

      Both chambers had setSeptember 16 as the deadline for appropriating Committees to turn in plans formeeting savings targets agreed to earlier in the summer. Congress's 5-yearsavings target is $34.7 Billion with approximately $3 billion earmarked to comefrom agriculture spending.

      From agriculture'sstandpoint, the hurricane related delays could be a blessing in disguise asCongressional leaders and Administration officials are already beginning tovoice the probability that action on budget reconciliation will be delayed from2-3 weeks. Some Democratic lawmakers are openly suggesting that the process bedelayed indefinitely.

      How agriculture will fare inthe end could have a lot to do with how the federal response to the disasterimpacts spending in categories under Agriculture Committee jurisdiction likefood and nutrition programs and agriculture assistance programs.

      At the very least it seems astrong case can be made to forego any cuts scheduled for agriculture in 2006due to the significant impact the hurricane will continue to have onagriculture throughout the United States and especially in the directlyaffected Gulf Coast region.

 

Disaster Assistance For Agriculture A Possibility

      An offshoot of the growinghurricane response is an increased chance that some form of agriculturedisaster assistance package will be developed in the coming months.

      Recognition of that need isalready being heard from Congress and the Administration. Already lawmakersare urging a hearing to assess damage to the agriculture sector due toHurricane Katrina and other natural disasters that have occurred this year.

      In the past, similarassistance packages have allowed assistance to be provided to producers forweather-related agricultural losses throughout the United States.

      Making sure this precedent iscontinued in a future agriculture assistance package is especially importantfor growers on the High Plains.

      It will be a while before afinal acreage loss figure is calculated for the 2005 crop since there are stillseveral months left in the growing season and the High Plains cotton crop is along way from being off the stalk and through the gin.

      So far it appears somewherebetween 300,000-500,000 acres of cotton have been severely damaged orcompletely destroyed during the course of the 2005-growing season. Ironically,half or more of the region's losses were incurred the weekend before HurricaneKatrina made landfall on Monday, August 29.

      That weekend, cottonproducers throughout the High Plains experienced hail damage like many hadnever experienced. Literally thousands of acres of lush, waist-high cotton werereduced to little more than rows of shattered stalks stripped of limbs, leavesand bolls. Production losses from this storm alone could top 200,000 balesbased on gin and grower reports.

      The message beingcommunicated from the High Plains is that, when the time comes to address thephysical and economic losses of agriculture in the wake of Katrina, lawmakersshould also remember that the weather rarely plays favorites and there areproducers on the High Plains of Texas and scattered throughout the UnitedStates that have been similarly devastated by forces completely outside theircontrol.

      Assistance, both federal andprivate, continues to pour into the region to address these needs. The whole ofthe High Plains is playing a major role in those efforts sending food, monetarydonations and supplies and by welcoming hundreds of victims that have been lefthomeless.

      For agriculture and the restof the nation our first and most important priority is to help those whosurvived the storm and initiate the programs that will help them put theirlives back together. Eventually the time will come when the needs ofagriculture are addressed and much-needed assistance delivered.

 

WTACITo Hold 53rd Annual Conference Sept. 21

Friday, September 9, 2005                         By Shawn Wade

      The West Texas AgriculturalChemicals Institute announces the 53rd Annual Agricultural Chemicals Conferencewill be held at the Holiday Inn - Park Plaza Hotel and Convention Center, 3201South Loop 289, Lubbock on September 21, 2005.

      This year's program willinclude an update on activities of the Texas Department of Agriculture fromTexas Commissioner of Agriculture Susan Combs.

      Membership of the Instituteis open to any individual, business, or professional group interested inimproving educational programs related to agricultural chemicals and their safeuse. Membership fees are used to pay expenses of the conference, promoteprograms of interest to the West Texas agricultural community and providescholarship funds for agricultural students at designated universities.

      Since 1983, one to threescholarships per year have been awarded to students attending any of sixuniversities in the West Texas area (Abilene Christian, Angelo State, LubbockChristian, Sul Ross State, Texas Tech and West Texas A&M).

      Scholarships are awardedthrough a scholarship committee appointed by the WTACI Board of Directors.Scholarship recipients are selected from applications on the basis of GPA,career goals, degree being sought, and financial need.

      In addition, the Institutemakes periodic contributions to the WTACI Endowment Fund established at TexasTech University. Although scholarships are not being funded from the endowmentat this time, it is designed to eventually be self-sustaining through interestincome. The Institute has also made contributions to the A. W. YoungScholarship Fund at Texas Tech University.

      You can download the 2005Conference program, that also contains the registration form, from this link:

http://wtaci.tamu.edu/wtaci05program.pdf

      The conference is approvedfor continuing education credits by TDA, CCA, NMDA and OKDA.

 

Get Your 2005Cotton Resource CD

      Texas Cooperative Extension CottonSpecialists Dr. Robert Lemon, of College Station, and Dr. Randy Boman, ofLubbock, have finalized the 2005 update to last year's inaugural CottonResource CD. The CD provides a one-stop reference library of useful cottonmanagement information.

      The 2005 CD has been updatedwith numerous educational publications and, for the first time, includesresearch summaries for research projects carried out in 2004 through the CottonIncorporated State Support Program.

      Funding for the CottonResource CD was provided through the CI State Support Program and helped createEastern Region and Western Region versions of the CD.

      An online version of each CDis also available through the Lubbock Texas A&M University Research andExtension Center's website (http://lubbock.tamu.edu). Growers can browse the contentsof both CDs online using the following link: http://lubbock.tamu.edu/cottoncd/

      To view the documents online,or after downloading, you will need a copy of Adobe Acrobat Reader or softwarecapable of opening Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) files.

 

TDA To Hold Town Hall Meetings In Four
High Plains Counties September 14

      Agriculture CommissionerSusan Combs is visiting with agricultural producers and rural communities attown hall meetings throughout the state to discuss issues impacting rural Texasand the agricultural industry.

      The town hall meetings,hosted by the Texas Department of Agriculture, are open forums where producersand community members can discuss issues as well as present their ideas andsolutions to the commissioner.

      The town hall meetings arefree and open to the public. For more information, contact Ryan O'Neal,producer relations specialist at TDA, at (512) 463-4879.

      Town hall meetings scheduledin the High Plains region will occur on Wednesday, September 14 at thefollowing locations:

 

Dallam County - 8:00 a.m., Rita Blanca Coliseum,1219 W. FM 281, Dalhart.

Gray County - 10:30 a.m., Pampa Chamber ofCommerce, M.K. Brown Room, 200 N. Ballard, Pampa.

Deaf Smith County - 1:00 p.m., Hereford IndependentSchool District Administration Building, 601 N. 25 Mile Ave., Hereford.

Lubbock County - 3:30 p.m., Texas Tech Food andAnimal Science Building, Southwest corner of Brownfield Highway and IndianaAvenue, Lubbock.

 

Crop Tours Offer Opportunity For Growers
To Make Side-by-Side Comparisons

      The 2005 harvest season israpidly approaching. With that approach it is also an excellent time to learnabout and see first-hand how different cotton varieties are performing in thefield.

      Designed to provide thatopportunity and also set the stage for the harvest season, Texas CooperativeExtension offices across the High Plains have scheduled county crop toursthrough the end of September.

      A complete list of the CountyCrop Tours, Seed Industry Field Days and other meetings, with contactinformation, appears below.

High Plains Crop Tour & Field Day Schedule *

September 2005

Sept. 13

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

Sept. 14

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

Sept. 14

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

Sept. 15

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

Sept. 15

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

Sept. 15

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

Sept. 16

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

Sept. 20

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

Sept. 21

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

Sept. 22

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

Sept. 22

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

Sept. 28

Crosby County Crop Tour. Contact Steve Young, CEA-AG, at 806-675-2347.

Sept. 28

All-Tex Seed Field Day, Levelland, Texas,

Call 806-894-4901 for more information.

*To add an event to thiscalendar contact PCG at 806-792-4904