Farm Bill Extension Talk Gaining Momentum

Friday, July 28, 2006                               By Shawn Wade

      Justabout everyone involved with U.S. agriculture breathed a collective sigh ofrelief earlier this week as the latest attempt to reenergize the World TradeOrganization's Doha Developmental negotiations ended in failure.

      Asmight be expected, the U.S. is getting the bulk of the criticism for the latestcollapse as U.S. negotiators did the right thing and rebuffed the repetitiousdemands of other countries that the U.S. give more and take less.

      "Cottonproducers appreciate the resolve shown by the U.S. negotiating team, led byAmbassador [Susan] Schwab and Secretary [Mike] Johanns, to stand firm anddemand an equal level of participation from our trading partners around theworld when it comes to reducing domestic support levels and increasing marketaccess for agricultural goods," says PCG Executive Vice President Steve Verett.

      "Weare clearly in a situation where 'No Deal' is better than a 'Bad Deal.' Withouttheir resolve, and the resolve of our Congressional representatives to ensurethat a fair deal is eventually struck, we would be even further down the roadto a bad agreement," adds Verett.

      Cottonproducers continue to have serious concerns about the ongoing effort within theWTO process to address cotton issues more aggressively than other commoditiesrealizing at the same time that any changes in market access provisions byother WTO members will have only marginal impacts on cotton.

      Withno plans for an immediate restart of the process in Geneva, how the latest Dohafailure will impact U.S. agriculture policy is a central question whose answeris only beginning to take shape.

      Formonths many agriculture groups, including Plains Cotton Growers, have advocatedan extension of the 2002 Farm Bill for a variety of reasons.

      Theprimary reason for PCG's stance is the fact that an extension of the provisionsof current farm law would mean the continuation of a policy combination thatworks.

      Asecondary consideration is the fact that many observers expect the Doha roundto eventually be restarted even though it has currently ground to a halt.

      Historyshows that past WTO agricultural negotiations have experienced multiple startsand stops similar to the current one and were ultimately completed. Since theprocess will most likely be revisited at some point in the future there is avery real possibility that a new farm bill could require substantial changesbased on a final Doha agreement on agriculture.

      "Itjust doesn't make sense for the Congress and U.S. agriculture to try and writea new farm bill without any idea of how a future WTO agreement would view itsprovisions," says Verett. "Adding in the fact that a majority of U.S.agriculture supports the structure and provisions of the 2002 Farm Bill makesan extension the logical course to ensure that U.S. agriculture maintains astable safety net and that U.S. negotiators continue to operate from a positionof strength."

      Congressionalsupport for an extension has been voiced off and on for months. Those earlydiscussions gained added support following the Doha collapse when SenateAgriculture Committee Chairman Saxby Chambliss noted his preference for anextension of current programs.

      Chambliss'vision of an extension falls short of a total rewrite of the currentlegislation, but would include what he calls "some tweaking" to currentprovisions. He would also prefer to see the revised legislation extended forfive years instead of just one or two as others have suggested.

      "How all this will playout over the coming weeks and months is unclear," concludes Verett. "What isclear from PCG's vantage point is that harnessing the momentum that is buildingand extending the provisions of the 2002 Farm Bill is a win-win situation forHigh Plains cotton producers."

Hot,Dry Conditions Put Cotton On Fast-track

Friday, July 28, 2006                               By Shawn Wade

      Theeffects of hot, dry weather are clearly evident in area cotton fields accordingto numerous reports from Texas Cooperative Extension agents around the HighPlains region.

      Thetrick, says Lubbock-based Plains Cotton Growers, is knowing how to read thesigns the plants are displaying.

      Inthe area's non-irrigated fields the situation is the easiest to figure out. Asthe calendar flips rapidly toward August 1 many of these fields are alreadydisplaying the tell-tale white bloom at the top of the plant that indicatesthey have put on all the blooms they can and have reached physiologicalcut-out.

      Onthe irrigated side the situation is considerably better. Physically the 2006irrigated crop is faring well by most accounts. Economically that may not bethe case since many growers are spending much more to keep the water going.

      Theeffects of the dry conditions in irrigated fields are a bit harder to see, butequally significant. At first glance many of these fields seem to be a on afairly normal growth curve. Closer inspection, however, reveals that the hot,dry conditions are significantly impacting irrigated cotton and acceleratingthe growth curve. Across the region reports indicate that irrigated fields willlikely achieve physiological cut-out within the next two-three weeks, which isseveral weeks earlier than what producers would normally like to see.

      Asalways the weather is the ultimate regulator of crop maturity and thecombination of high temperatures and reduced moisture availability has the 2006High Plains crop on the fast-track to maturity.

      With weather forecastsindicating the area can only expect more of the same, the 2006 dryland crop'sfate has pretty well been cast in stone at this time. Irrigated crops arerapidly reaching the same point as growers shift their focus to hanging on andgetting the crop to harvest.

NRCSTo Hold 2007 EQIP PDG/LWG Meetings

      TexasSoil and Water Conservation Districts invite the public, and any agencies withinterest, to participate in the agency's 2007 Program Development Group (PDG)meetings.

      PDGmeetings are led by the local Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) inpartnership with USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in eachcounty and provide an opportunity for participation and comments from a broadrange of local agencies, organizations, businesses and especially farmers andranchers that have an interest in natural resource conditions and needs. Eachcounty in Texas holds the public meetings annually and meeting information willsoon be posted on the Texas NRCS website ( A partial list of PDG meetings already scheduled islisted below.

      Thepurpose of the PDG is to provide members of the community a forum forsubmitting recommendations on local issues and county based funding that can beaddressed through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). Theselocal stakeholders include landowners, commodity groups, agri-business leaders,environmental groups, and others who may have an interest in local naturalresource needs.

      TheEnvironmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) was established in the 1996Farm Bill to provide a single, voluntary conservation program for farmers andranchers to address significant natural resource concerns.


2007EQIP Program Development Group (PDG)
Meeting Dates, Times and Locations








NRCS Service Center, Lamesa, TX




SWCD Board Meeting Room, Matador, TX




NRCS Service Center, 315 West Belsher, Dimmitt, TX




Happy, State Bank, 100 N. Main, Stratford, TX.




Randall County Extension Bldg, 200 N. Brown, Canyon, TX




Guthrie Community Center, Guthrie, TX




Stonewall Co. Courthouse, Aspermont, TX




Amarillo College, Moore County Campus




NRCS Service Center, 200 A West Taylor, Morton, TX




Extension Service Center, 209 South 5th Street, Brownfield, TX




Five Area Telephone Board Rm., 302 Uvalde St., Muleshoe, TX




Roby Community Center, Roby, TX




Wells Fargo Bank Meeting Rm, 216 W. Main Street, Post, TX




Tahoka Housing Authority Meeting Rm, 1400 Ave. K, Tahoka




NRCS Service Center, 304 South Garland, Plainview, TX




Lamb County Electric Co-op, 2415 S. Phelps, Ave., Littlefield, TX




NRCS Service Center, 920 Bray, Paducah, TX