Favorable Weather Keeps Planters Running;
Growers Making Progress on 2006 Plantings

Friday, May12, 2006                                 By Shawn Wade

      Recent rains have improvedsoil moisture conditions in many parts of the High Plains region and haveallowed growers to sustain a brisk pace as they work to get their 2006 cropestablished.

      Most areas would be rated infair condition although some dryland acres are still considered marginal. Itgoes without saying though that the entire High Plains region will benefit fromadditional rainfall and warm temperatures.

      Apart from moisture, the onlyarea of concern for many would be the impact of recent cool spells on seedlingemergence. Daytime temperatures the past couple of weeks have fluctuatedbetween the upper 60s to over 90 degrees.

      Nighttime temperatures havebeen correspondingly unstable and the net result in some cases could be aslight delay in emergence. A return to seasonable temperatures would quicklyaddress the situation.

      The High Plains region isexpected to plant approximately 3.75 million acres of cotton in 2006. A drywinter and marginal sub-soil moisture going into planting make it critical thatthe area receiving timely in-season rainfall. Near perfect conditions wouldhave to prevail for the area to have a reasonable chance to approach therecord-setting production levels of the past two growing seasons.

      Inthe USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service's May 12 Crop Productionreport, final district level production figures for the High Plains region indicatethe area produced 5.7 million bales of Upland cotton in 2005. Statewideproduction figures show that Texas contributed 8.44 million bales to the total2005 U.S. Upland production figure of 23.25 million bales.

Ag Committee Impressed By Unified Message

Friday, May12, 2006                                 By Shawn Wade

      A diverse groupof Texas farmers and livestock producers left a solid impression on a dozenmembers of the House Agriculture Committee during the one and only fullCommittee hearing on the 2007 Farm Bill to be held in Texas.

      Plains CottonGrowers Board members Rickey Bearden, of Plains, and Al Spinks, of Midland,were asked to provide testimony during the hearing. Bearden is a past presidentof the organization and is the current Chairman of the PCG Board of Directors.Spinks is a member of the PCG Executive Committee.

      The hearing,conducted on the campus of Angelo State University May 9, provided elevenwitnesses the chance to share their thoughts about the 2007 Farm bill withmembers of the House Agriculture Committee in attendance.

      Rep. MikeConaway, whose district hosted the hearing, and Rep. Randy Neugebauer arecurrent members of the House Agriculture Committee and participated in thehearing.

      Bearden andSpinks were asked to be part of the panel representing agriculture interestsacross Texas. PCG President Mike Hughes and PCG Vice President Barry Evanssubmitted written testimony to be included in the official record of thehearing. Copies all four testimonies presented during the hearing are availableon the PCG website: http://www.plainscotton.org/

      Spinks, who drewthe opening witness slot, set the tone for the rest of the day expressingstrong support for the structure of the 2002 Farm Bill. He also expressedsupport for further consideration of a permanent disaster provision anddevelopment of innovative new crop insurance products that can work in tandemwith farm program provisions to provide effective risk management protectionfor producers who encounter production related difficulties.

      Like many of thewitnesses that would follow, Spinks noted the importance of the marketing loanas the basis for the farm program safety net and the value of the Direct andCounter-cyclical payment program.

      Speaking third,Bearden echoed the sentiments expressed by Spinks and speakers that wouldfollow. Using cotton as an example he also took the opportunity to talkspecifically about the current program, its ability to function as an effectivesafety net for producers and its focus as a commodity support program.

      Bearden concludedhis comments with observations about the Doha WTO negotiations and theirpossible effects on U.S. agriculture policy.

      A condensedversion of the testimony heard by the Committee would include: support forcontinuation of the marketing loan and direct and counter-cyclical programs intheir current form; encourage development of new crop insurance alternatives;establishment of a permanent disaster program; continue offering conservationprograms on a voluntary cost-share basis; support public-private marketingdevelopment programs; and continue supporting agriculture research at alllevels of the agriculture industry.

      AgricultureCommittee members present at the hearing included House Agriculture CommitteeChairman Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) and Ranking Minority Member Rep. CollinPeterson (D-MN) and Rep. Mike Conaway (R-TX), Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX), Rep.Tim Holden, (D-PA), Rep. Charlie Melancon, (D- LA), Rep. Jerry Moran (R-KS),Rep. Marilyn Musgrave (R-CO), Rep. Randy Neugebauer (R-TX), Rep. Earl Pomeroy,(D-ND), Rep. John Salazar (D-CO), and Rep. Mike Sodrel (R-IN).

      Individualswishing to submit their own comments on the 2007 Farm Bill to the HouseAgriculture Committee can do so through the House Agriculture Committee websitelocated at:

      Submittingcomments is as easy as sending an email. PCG encourages all High Plains cottonproducers to take advantage of the opportunity to make their opinions known andreinforce the message delivered to the Agriculture Committee in San Angelo onMay 9.