Southwest Council of Agribusiness Taking Lead
Role In EffortsTo Extend 2002 Farm Bill

Friday, September 8, 2006                         By Shawn Wade

      Extending the provisions ofthe 2002 Farm Bill is the single focus of a newly formed alliance known as theSouthwest Council of Agribusiness (SWCA).

      Founding members of the SWCAinclude commodity organizations, financial institutions and agribusinesses fromacross the High Plains and includes Plains Cotton Growers, Inc., Western PeanutGrowers, Corn Producers Association of Texas, Texas Grain Sorghum ProducersAssociation, Ag Texas Farm Credit Services, City Bank Texas, First Ag Credit,Plains Capital Bank, State National Bank, American State Bank, BE Implement,Hurst Farm Supply, South Plains Equipment, Ray Lee Equipment and John RoleyAuto Center.

      Augmenting the SWCA's effortwill be Lubbock-based Combest Sell & Associates, a consulting firmdedicated to promoting sound U.S. farm policy that maintains and grows economicopportunity and jobs in rural America by keeping America's farmers and ranchersstrong and competitive.

      Combest Sell & Associatesis composed of former 9-term Congressman Larry Combest of Lubbock, who chairedboth the House Intelligence Committee and the House Agriculture Committee; TomSell, former Deputy Staff Director of the House Agriculture Committee; and JeffHarrison, former Counsel to the House Agriculture Committee.

      Explaining why the SWCA wasformed, Plains Cotton Growers Executive Vice President Steve Verett said, "Agricultureis the foundation of our economy and the farm bill provides a critical safetynet that protects this vital segment from the unpredictable shifts that sooften occur in the weather and in the international marketplace. We believethat the best possible outcome for the 2007 Farm Bill would be to see thecurrent legislation extended for as long as possible."

      Verett noted that the 2002Farm Bill has been among the most successful pieces of farm legislation everpassed and has served U.S. producers well during its first four and a halfyears of operation and has done so at significantly less cost than originallyprojected.

      Discussing why he and hisfirm are excited about the formation of the SWCA, Combest said, "In 35 years ofworking on the formulation of agriculture policy, I have seen a lot of goodpolicy fail because of the lack of a good strategy.

      "One area I have alwaysemphasized is the need to work together, form coalitions and broaden the baseof support for good ideas. The formation of the Southwest Council of Agribusinessis a major step in reaching those goals. I am very proud to be a part of it andmy hopes are that it will grow. Every job in our area has some dependency onprofitable agriculture and I believe this is a good beginning to help spreadthe word of the importance of good farm policy to our area."

      Agriculturalorganizations, financial institutions or businesses that are interested injoining the Southwest Council of Agribusiness and the effort to gain anextension of the current farm bill can contact Plains Cotton Growers for moreinformation by calling 806-792-4904.

Senate Ag Committee Gains A Texas Perspective
On Direction Of 2007Farm Bill

Friday, September 8, 2006                         By Shawn Wade

      A resounding endorsement ofthe provisions of the 2002 Farm Bill was delivered to members of the SenateAgriculture Committee and its Chairman Senator Saxby Chambliss by across-section of Texas agriculture interest groups during the Senate AgCommittee's Farm Bill Field Hearing in Lubbock September 8.

      Panelists invited toparticipate in the hearing replayed the familiar message that Texas agriculturesupports the provisions of the 2002 Farm Bill and would largely prefer to seethem extended "as-is" beyond the legislation's scheduled 2007 expiration. Thatmessage was first delivered loud and clear to USDA Secretary Mike Johanns latelast year during his Texas USDA Farm Bill Listening Session and Texas commodityrepresentatives delivered a similar message in May 2006 during the HouseAgriculture Committee's Texas Farm Bill hearing.

      While the Senate hearingfeatured a different mix of speakers, it provided the same strong message ofsupport for the current farm program. Hearing panelists included producersrepresenting commodity groups and specialty crops and representatives ofwildlife and conservation groups.

      Plains Cotton GrowersChairman Rickey Bearden of Plains, TX,presented cotton industry testimony on behalf of the National Cotton Counciland Texas Cotton Producers, Inc. Bearden's testimony included calls forcontinuation of the Direct and Counter-cyclical program, the marketing loanprogram and continued funding for voluntary conservation programs. He notedthat the combination of the marketing loan and the direct and counter-cyclicalprograms provide a critically important safety net for producers.

      Bearden thanked the Committeefor its commitment to U.S. agriculture during the WTO Doha negotiations andtheir commitment to ensuring that cotton is not singled out for differentialtreatment in the negotiations. He reiterated the importance of extending theprovisions of the current Farm Bill in order to keep the U.S. negotiating froma position of strength.

      He concluded saying it isvital that U.S agriculture policy be debated and written in Washington, DC bythe members of the House and Senate Agriculture Committees and not across a WTOnegotiating table.

      Leadingoff the testimony as part of the first of three panels were Bearden; TommyWomack, Tulia, TX, representing the National Association of Wheat Growers; TroySkarke, Claude, TX, representing the National Sorghum Producers; and JimmyWedel, Muleshoe, TX, representing Corn Producers Association of Texas.

      The second panelwas composed of Dale Murden, Monte Alto, TX, representing the Rio Grande ValleySugar Growers; LG Raun, El Campo, TX, representing the US Rice ProducersAssociation and USA Rice Federation; Ted Higginbottom, Seminole, TX,representing Western Peanut Growers Association; and, Dennis Holbrook, Mission,TX, representing the Texas Produce Association and Texas Citrus Mutual.

      The third andfinal panel was composed of Barry Mahler, Iowa Park, TX, representing theAssociation of Texas Soil and Water Conservation Districts and the NationalAssociation of Conservation Districts; Mike Berger, Austin, TX, representingthe Association of State Wildlife Agencies; Dale Smith, Amarillo, TX,representing Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association and the TexasCattle Feeders Association; and, Bill Battle, Tunica, Mississippi, representingthe Catfish Farmers of America.

      LubbockCongressman Randy Neugebauer provided an official welcome to Senator Chamblissand the other members of the Senate Agriculture Committee that were present.

CCC Issues Rule Changes for 2006 Upland
Cotton Marketing LoanProgram

Friday, September 8, 2006                         By Shawn Wade

      An informational meeting todiscuss new rules for the Upland and Extra Long Staple cotton marketingassistance loan (MAL) program was held September 7 in Lubbock. The meeting wasdesigned to help High Plains cotton industry representatives gain a betterunderstanding of program changes announced August 29 by the Commodity CreditCorporation.

      Rob Hosford, SpecialAssistant to the Administrator, USDA Farm Service Agency, attended the meetingand provided an explanation of the new rules.

      One of the most importantchanges discussed was the development of new regulations to allow cottonpledged as collateral for a cotton MAL to be stored outside at cotton storagewarehouses approved for the practice. Prior to the new rules, CCC loanregulations required loan cotton to be stored inside.

      According to Hosford, the newrules were structured to ensure that outside storage remains a practice of lastresort for the industry. Under the new regulations, the warehouse must be in anarea that CCC determines as having inadequate approved capacity to store thecurrent crop. Warehouses requesting approval to use outside storage must have aCotton Storage Agreement with CCC and must agree to meet special storage andinsurance requirements.

      In order to create anincentive to move outside stored cotton inside as quickly as possible, Hosfordexplained that CCC has also amended the loan regulations to deny storagecredits for loan cotton for any extended period that it is stored outside.

      Under the new rules CCC willallow cotton to be stored outside for a 15-day grace period without loss ofstorage credits. The grace period begins on the day the warehouse is notifiedthat the bale is under loan. Storage credits will not be provided for loanbales for any period that they are stored outside beyond the 15-day graceperiod.

      In order to calculate thenumber of days that loan cotton is stored outside, and are not eligible forstorage credit, new reporting requirements will require the storing warehouseto document on the Electronic Warehouse Receipt (EWR) the days that the cottonwas stored outside. The new reporting rules will also require cotton warehousesto identify and report the status of outside stored bales on a weekly basis.

      In a related change, thefinal rule also amends the CCC cotton warehouse shipping standard to requirewarehouse operators with a cotton storage agreement to provide weekly reportsto the CCC concerning bales made available for shipment during the week. Thecurrent shipping standard is 4.5 percent of the warehouse's applicable storagecapacity.

      Hosford noted a number ofother changes that were implemented including: regulations allowing thetransfer of loan collateral from the original storing warehouse to anotherwarehouse without canceling the MAL; the establishment of a maximum storagecredit for 2006 and subsequent years of the lesser of the warehouse's 2005-croptariff rate or $4.37 per bale per month for warehouses in Arizona andCalifornia, or $2.66 per bale per month for warehouses in all other cottonproducing states; and language clarifying that compression charges will bebilled to the producer when loan cotton is forfeit to CCC.

      In response to industryconcerns about bale moisture, Hosford explained that while the final rule didnot include any new certification requirements for gins, it did reaffirmcurrent CCC policy that "wet" bales are not eligible for the loan. Heexplained that to be loan eligible bales must meet the Joint Cotton IndustryBale Packaging Committee's standards as either grade A or grade B bales."Wet cotton" was also defined in the rule as a bale that exceeds 7.5percent moisture [wet basis] at any point in the bale when measured at the gin.

 

High Plains Event Calendar

      The table below contains apartial listing of the events already scheduled. Growers interested inattending any of the Texas Cooperative Extension events should contact theappropriate TCE County office to request additional details.

      Formore information about the industry Field Days listed below contact your localsales representative or dealer. Additional details will be included in "CottonNews" as they become available.

2006 Extension Crop Tours &
Cotton IndustryEvent Schedule

Event:

Date:

Yoakum County Crop Tour

September 12

Floyd County Crop Tour

September 19

Mitchell County Ag Tour

September 21

Crosby County Crop Tour

September 29

Deltapine Field Day - RECHEDULED

September 19

WTACI Annual Meeting

September 13

FiberMax Field Day

September 21

Stoneville/Monsanto Field Day

September 26

All-Tex Field Day / Fish Fry

 

September 27,

10:00 AM, Levelland Delinting

 

 

 

NRCS To Hold 2007 EQIP PDG/LWG Meetings

      Texas Soil and WaterConservation Districts invite the public, and any agencies with interest, toparticipate in the agency's 2007 Program Development Group (PDG) meetings.

      PDG meetings are led by thelocal Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) in partnership withUSDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Each county in Texas holdsthe public meetings annually and meeting information will soon be posted on theTexas NRCS website (www.tx.nrcs.usda.gov). 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).

September EQIP PDG Meeting
Dates, Times andLocations

County:

Date:

Time:

Location:

Lamb

9/11/06

10:00AM

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

Martin/
Glasscock

9/11/06

10:00 AM

4-H Building, Stanton, Texas

Collingsworth

9/12/06

8:00 AM

USAD Service Center, FM 338, Wellington, TX

Dallam

9/12/06

3:00 PM

NRCS Service Center, 622 W. 7th St., Dalhart, TX

Hall

9/12/06

10:00 AM

1st Bank & Trust, 501 Main St., Memphis, TX

Hansford

9/12/06

1:30 PM

First State Bank Meeting Room, Spearman, TX

Roberts

9/12/06

7:30 AM

KNT Cafˇ, 123 Commercial St., Miami, TX

Dickens

9/13/06

7:00 PM

USDA Service Center, 312 Willard, Spur, TX

Hemphill

9/13/06

6:00 PM

County Exhibition Barn, County Exhibition Center Road, Canadian, TX

Cottle

9/14/06

10:00AM

NRCS Service Center, 920 Bray, Paducah, TX