Senate On Verge Of Debating 2005/2006
Agricultural Disaster Aid Amendments

Friday, November 17, 2006                        By Shawn Wade

      Disaster assistance is onceagain on the agenda in Washington as farm-state Senators attempt to revisit theissue this week. Senate disaster aid supporters are focusing their efforts on H.R.5384, the Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, andRelated Agencies Appropriations Act, 2007.

      The Senate disasterassistance undertaking is good news to High Plains cotton producers who wereadversely impacted by weather in either 2005 or 2006. Plains Cotton Growersofficials note that the most important aspect of this debate for cottonproducers is the expansion of current proposals to cover both the 2005 and 2006crop years.

      The 2007 AgricultureAppropriations bill is just one of several spending bills that need to clearthe Senate as the majority of the work left on Congresses “To-Do” list is linedup on the Senate side of the ledger. The House, which has already cleared allits major appropriations bills, remains in recess until December 5 awaitingSenate action and the conferencing of the bills that will follow.

      Prior to the November recessSenate leaders promised to revisit disaster assistance when the Senate returned.Among the supporters of disaster assistance that sought that pledge is currentSenate Agriculture Committee Chairman Saxby Chambliss of Georgia. Chambliss hasgone on record in support of addressing agriculture disaster relief as part ofthe 2007 agriculture appropriations bill and has also noted the need to expandthe current proposal to include the 2006 crop year.

      Earlier this week SenatorKent Conrad of North Dakota worked out a deal with Senate Majority Leader Sen.Bill Frist of Tennessee allowing him to put forth an amendment to the 2007agriculture appropriations bill that would replace the 2005-only disasterassistance package presently included in the bill. Conrad’s substituteamendment would expand the single year disaster package to address losses inboth 2005 and 2006.

      Conrad’s effort seemed to gooff-track on Wednesday, but with some additional behind-the-scenes work Senateleaders agreed to begin consideration of the FY2007 Agriculture Appropriationsbill and Conrad’s amendment the afternoon of December 5.

      As part of the agreementSenator Conrad will offer his amendment immediately after the Senate hearsremarks about the bill from the Chairman and Ranking member of the SenateAgriculture Committee. Additional reports indicate a vote on the Conradamendment is also expected to occur on December 5.

      Prior to this week’s debatethe Senate had already approved an amendment offered by Senator Byron Dorgan ofNorth Dakota that would provide disaster assistance to farmers and ranchers whosuffered weather-related losses during the 2005 crop year and also authorized a30 percent supplemental Direct Payment to growers.

      The 30 percent supplementalDirect Payment is thought to be a suitable way to direct assistance to abroader cross-section of growers who suffered “shallow losses” in either 2005or 2006. Shallow losses put significant economic strain on farming operations,but typically do not meet the 35 percent loss threshold qualifying a grower fortraditional disaster assistance.

      The substitute that SenatorConrad is trying to get passed would remove the 30 percent supplemental DirectPayment from the current proposal and expand eligible losses to both the 2005and 2006 crop years with a 30 percent loss trigger.

      Regardless of the fate of theConrad amendment the cotton industry’s focus will be to support language inconference to allow a grower to select 2005 or 2006 losses and retain thesupplemental Direct Payment.

      Another key part of thedebate will be how spending for the disaster program is classified. Houseleaders and the Administration have already started to voice their concernsabout how the assistance is targeted. They have also restated their positionthat any disaster assistance package should be paid for through cuts in other agriculturesupport programs.

      Both the current Senateproposal and Senator Conrad’s substitute are proposed as emergency spendingthat would not require a budget offset if enacted.

      It is easy to see that theroad to achieve a 2005-2006 agriculture disaster aid package isn’t getting anyeasier to navigate for Congress or agriculture interest groups.

      For now, the fact that theissue is near the top of the Senate’s “To-Do” list is encouraging. Growerswill, no doubt, be following the issue closely and pushing for a favorableoutcome.

6th Annual Texas Commodity Symposium

Grand Plaza Room - Amarillo Civic Center

November 29, 2006 – 8:30 a.m.

 

Neugebauer Looking Forward To Third Term
On House Agriculture Committee

Friday, November 17, 2006                        By Shawn Wade

      Following the completion ofthe mid-term election cycle District 19 Representative Randy Neugebauer seesthe 110th Congress as being filled with both opportunities andchallenges, especially in the area of agricultural policy.

      Neugebauer notes that for hisWest Texas district probably the most important issue facing the next Congressis the writing of the 2007 Farm Bill.

      Planning to return for histhird term on the House Agriculture Committee, Neugebauer says the HAC willhave its plate full as it writes the next Farm Bill and works to furtherstrengthen U.S. farm policy.

      Over the last year Rep.Neugebauer has spent considerable time touring the 19th District togather the views of farmers and ranchers about the current Farm Bill and whatthey need from future farm policy. He has also traveled to many other parts ofthe country and heard the thoughts of producers outside of Texas as aparticipant in the House Agriculture Committee’s farm bill hearings.

      “It is clear that most [farmers]believe the current Farm Bill has been a success and that many of the samepolicies should be continued,” says Neugebauer.

      “As one of the country’s mostimportant agricultural regions, West Texas deserves a voice at the negotiatingtable when Congress determines the future of farm policy in America,” statesNeugebauer. “I will be that voice.”

 

Senator John Cornyn Set To Address
6th Texas Commodity Symposium November 29

Friday, November 17, 2006                        By Shawn Wade

      The sixth annual Texas CommoditySymposium will be held November 29, 2006 and features a power-packed line-up ofspeakers including Texas Senator John Cornyn. Cornyn was recently elected toserve as the Vice Chairman of the Republican Conference, the fifth-highestRepublican leadership position in the Senate.

      Cornyn’s remarks will be justone of the many highlights of the Texas Commodity Symposium, which is onceagain being held in conjunction with the Amarillo Farm and Ranch Show in theGrand Plaza Room at the Amarillo Civic Center. Registration will begin at 8:30a.m. and the symposium will begin at 9 a.m.

      The Texas Commodity Symposiumis free to all and will conclude with a catered lunch at noon. The AmarilloFarm and Ranch Show runs from December 28-30, 2006 at the Amarillo CivicCenter.

      The Texas Commodity Symposiumis being hosted by Corn Producers Association of Texas (CPAT), Texas GrainSorghum Association (TGSA), Texas Wheat Producers Association (TWPA), PlainsCotton Growers, Inc. (PCG) and the Texas Peanut Producers Board (TPPB).

      Speakers for this year’sprogram will focus on state and national issues facing the agriculturalindustry. Topics will include updates on negotiations for the 2007 Farm Bill,updates on key issues facing Texas agriculture and FSA and NRCS updates.

      Headlining this year’sspeaker list is Cornyn; Representative Mac Thornberry of Amarillo; Texas StateSenator Todd Staples of Palestine; and, former House Agriculture CommitteeChairman Larry Combest of Lubbock. Combest will discuss the newly formedSouthwest Council of Agribusiness and the state of the Washington politicallandscape following the November elections and the ramifications the 2006election season will have on the 2007 Farm Bill debate.

      Other confirmed speakersinclude Texas State Senator Todd Staples, Texas FSA Executive Director JohnFuston and USDA NRCS Texas State Conservationist Larry Butler. Chris Albracht,Morning Show Host and Program Director for KGNC Radio, will serve as the Masterof Ceremonies for the event.

      All producers are encouragedto register early for a chance to win special door prizes. For moreinformation, please contact Lauri Vaughn, Director of Producer Relations &Communications for the Texas Wheat Producers at (806) 352-2191 or email(lvaughn@texaswheat.org).

     

2006 Cotton Quality Summary

      Thefollowing is a summary of the cotton classed at the Lubbock and Lamesa USDACotton Division Cotton Classing Offices for the 2006 production season.

 

Week Ending November 16, 2006:

 

Office

Bales

Color

Leaf

Staple

Lamesa

60,054

21+ - 60%

31 – 37%

3.10

35.91

Lubbock

274,746

21+ - 44%

31 – 45%

3.15

36.34

 

Mike

Strength

Uniformity

Bark

Lamesa

4.09

29.25

80.66

9.4%

Lubbock

3.81

29.88

81.22

15.9%

 

 

Season Totals To Date:

 

Office

Bales

Color

Leaf

Staple

Lamesa

263,377

21+ - 53%

31 – 39%

3.14

35.92

Lubbock

866,663

21+ - 47%

31 – 45%

3.27

36.25

 

Mike

Strength

Uniformity

Bark

Lamesa

4.19

29.19

80.77

9.0%

Lubbock

3.96

30.15

81.32

16.1%