Senate Budget Chairman Kent Conrad
Introduces New DisasterAssistance Proposal

Friday, January 19, 2007                           By Shawn Wade

      Senator Kent Conrad (D-ND),the new Chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, renewed his effort to gainapproval of a crop disaster program earlier this week with the release of arevised plan that attempts to answer some of the criticisms voiced by SenateRepublicans and the Bush Administration while still delivering meaningfulassistance to farmers and ranchers hurt by weather in 2005 and 2006.

      Now that the newDemocratically-controlled Congress has taken over it appears the continuingefforts of Senator Conrad to advance this issue may finally be able to get sometraction.

      The latest Conrad proposal,released earlier this week, is titled the "Emergency Farm Relief Act of 2007"and would provide growers the ability to receive crop loss assistance forlosses incurred in 2005, 2006 or both.

      The new proposal is atraditional crop disaster program based on the 2000-crop Crop Disaster Program(CDP) program. The program would utilize a 35 percent physical loss trigger andalso establish separate payment rates for insured and uninsured cropscalculated as a percentage of each crop's established price.

      Under the proposal insuredcrops would be paid at a rate equal to 45 percent of the crop's establishedprice. The payment rate for uninsured crops would be 20 percent of theestablished price. As proposed, the program also includes a separate qualityloss program with a 25 percent eligibility threshold.

      Payment limitation provisionsfor the program would, it appears, be established according to the provisionsof the 2000 CDP. In the 2000 CDP, grower benefits were limited by an $80,000payment limitation provision.

      The main difference betweenthis latest proposal and the previous version Senator Conrad unsuccessfullyadvanced this past December is the removal of a provision that would haveprovided a supplemental direct payment to some growers, and a reduction in thepayment rate percentages for insured and uninsured crops.

      The removal of the directpayment language was a response to what was viewed as a credible veto threat bythe Bush Administration if it remained part of the final package. The reductionin the payment rate percentages is apparently a budget driven change to savemoney and allow growers the ability to obtain assistance for losses in bothyears.

      What route Conrad will chooseto utilize to seek final passage of the "Emergency Farm Relief Act of 2007" isuncertain. Several options exist with the most likely being identification of asuitable host bill to carry it. One option for this scenario could potentiallybe an Omnibus Appropriations bill to complete FY2007 spending legislation.

      Conrad's latest proposalwould be designated as emergency spending, which is one of the major problemsSenate Republicans have had with previous versions he has proposed.

      Anemergency designation would eliminate the need for offsetting cuts in otheragriculture program spending to pay for the assistance package.

NWP Grower Committee Encourages Fellow
Producers To Stick With Successful Effort

Friday, January 19, 2007                           By Shawn Wade

      Producer members of the NorthwestPlains Boll Weevil Committee are encouraging their fellow cotton producers tovote "FOR" boll weevil eradication during the zone's upcoming eradicationprogram retention referendum.

      Ballots for the retentionvote will be mailed by the Texas Department of Agriculture on January 20, 2007.

      Citing the tremendous successof the Northwest Plains eradication effort, NWP steering committee members areproud to note that the zone has eliminated 100 percent of its operational debtand will recommend to the Texas Boll Weevil Eradication Foundation that the NWPzone's assessment rate be lowered substantially in 2007.

      According to informationprovided by the NWP committee, plans for 2007 include further reduction ofprogram operations in preparation for an eventual shift to a monitoring andmaintenance program that utilizes fewer traps, fewer people and less equipment.

      If approved, the NWPcommittee's proposed $4 per acre irrigated and $2 per acre dryland assessmentrate will ensure adequate funding is in place to carry out 2007 operationalactivities and also ensure the zone stays on track to ultimately be declaredfunctionally eradicated, hopefully within the next few growing seasons.

      Membersof the Northwest Plains Boll Weevil Committee include: James Brown, JimmyMcCurry, Vic Nelson, Bryan Patterson, Ricky Rector, Kevin Riley, CharlesSchlabs, Jerry Sowder, Mark Williams, and John Saylor.

2006-crop 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 January 18, 2007:

 

Office

Bales

Color

Leaf

Staple

Lamesa

30,245

21+ – 54%

31 – 35%

3.16

36.07

Lubbock

99,936

21+ – 50%

31 – 37%

3.17

35.88

 

Mike

Strength

Uniformity

Bark

Lamesa

3.89

29.41

80.74

22.5%

Lubbock

3.55

28.59

80.51

41.2%

 

Season Totals To Date:

 

Office

Bales

Color

Leaf

Staple

Lamesa

783,621

21+ – 65%

31 – 30%

2.99

35.98

Lubbock

2,829,038

21+ – 54%

31 – 40%

3.13

36.13

 

Mike

Strength

Uniformity

Bark

Lamesa

4.01

29.17

80.68

12.7%

Lubbock

3.79

29.53

81.01

21.6%