Farm Bill Process Hitting High Gear;
House and Senate AgCommittees Have Busy Week

Friday,April 27, 2007                                 By Shawn Wade

      Any allusions that the farmbill process hadn't shifted into a higher gear were quickly swept away by thisweek's hearing schedules for the House and Senate Agriculture Committees shouldeliminate any remaining doubt.

      During the week the SenateAgriculture Committee completed the last two in a series of three hearings heldunder the theme "Economic Challenges and Opportunities Facing AmericanAgricultural Producers Today." The House Agriculture Committee was equally asbusy holding a pair of Subcommittee hearings this week as well.

      During the week, the cottonindustry was represented on witness panels before both the House and Senate. Interms of providing industry-wide testimony however, only National CottonCouncil Chairman John Pucheu's testimony to the Senate panel could be labeledas an industry statement.

      The House Ag Committee'sGeneral Farm Commodities and Risk Management Subcommittee hearing on April 25included participation from Joseph Nicosia, Second Vice President of theAmerican Cotton Shippers' Association. Nicosia's testimony presented a set ofACSA farm policy recommendations to the panel that primarily address marketingloan performance issues following the elimination of the Step 2 program.

      As a whole the cottonindustry, through the National Cotton Council policy development process, isworking to develop a unified position on all of the issues addressed in theACSA testimony. ACSA's testimony does not currently reflect the views of eitherthe American Cotton Producers (ACP) or the NCC.

      In regard to possible changesor enhancements to the cotton loan program, ACP representatives continue towork on a set of policy recommendations that can be forwarded to the NCC's FarmProgram and Economic Policy Development Committee for consideration. From therea unified recommendation would be developed and submitted to the NCC Board ofDirectors for approval.

      The industry has alreadyestablished a number of key policy stances which Pucheu, a cotton producer fromTranquility, California, communicated to the Senate Agriculture Committee.Pucheu presented similar testimony to the House Ag Committee's General FarmCommodities and Risk Management Subcommittee at a hearing held March 28, 2007.

      Top cotton industryrecommendations presented by Pucheu to both the House and Senate panelsincluded:

  Patterning the2007 Farm Bill after the highly successful 2002 Farm Bill, includingcontinuation of the Direct and Counter-cyclical Payment Programs and theMarketing Loan Program;

  Oppose anyeffort to further reduce payment limitation levels or impose more restrictiveproducer eligibility rules;

  Maintainplanting flexibility; and,

  Encourageconsideration of legislative adjustments to the cotton marketing loan program,in consultation with the cotton industry, to restore the effectiveness of theprogram;

      During his testimony beforethe House's General Farm Commodities Subcommittee ACSA's Nicosia, who is CEO ofAllenberg Cotton Company in Memphis, TN, boiled the merchant segment'srecommendations down to several key points, several of which he pointed outwere still the subject of ongoing discussions within the cotton industry. ACSA'srecommendations included:

  Maintainingthe marketing loan and the use of generic certificates to facilitate movingcotton from the loan;

  Oppose effortsto establish more restrictive payment limitation or means testing regulations;

  Retain currentcotton loan program provisions including establishment of base quality as aColor 41 Leaf 4 Staple 34, use of generic certificates, and forgiveness of allor part of applicable storage and interest charges when the Adjusted WorldPrice (AWP) is below the loan redemption amount;

  Modify currentcotton loan program provisions through determination price support loan rate ona percentage of a five-year Olympic average price, modification of the loanpremium and discount discovery mechanism, allowing holders of CCC-605Designation of Agent forms to ship cotton prior to loan redemption, allowproducers that forego loan to fix LDP payment amount in any week within tenmonths of module formation, elimination of location differentials and changingloan terms to FOB Car/Truck.

      In his testimony Nicosianoted that several industry segments, including producers, do not agree withmany of the specific recommendations put forward by ACSA.

      Plains Cotton Growers andproducer leaders from across the country continue to work through regionalproducer organizations and the ACP to resolve those differences.

      The goal, as always, is toprovide a unified industry message on these extremely important issues.

 

HPWD Issues 2007 Depth To Water Survey
Results; Maps Available At: www.hpwd.com

      Annual depth-to-water levelmeasurements made in early 2007 by the High Plains Underground WaterConservation District No. 1 show an average decrease of -1.01 feet in thegroundwater levels of the Ogallala aquifer during 2006 within the district's6.8 million acre service area. As a comparison, the 2006 depth-to-water levelmeasurements had indicated an average decrease of -0.54 of a foot during 2005.

      The district 10-year averageannual change decreased from -0.84 of a foot for the 2006 report to -0.77 of afoot for the current report. The district five-year average annual changeincreased from -0.58 of a foot for the 2006 report to -0.63 of a foot for thecurrent report.

      High Plains Water Districtofficials were concerned that the 2007 depth-to-water level measurements wouldreveal a greater decline in groundwater levels as a result of droughtconditions occurring in 2006.

      "Initially, Water Districtstaff thought that there could be a greater decline in the average annualchange in groundwater levels due to the rainfall patterns over much of thedistrict during the 2006 growing season," stated District Manager JimConkwright.

      Depth-to-water levelmeasurements are normally made during January to March each year to allowstabilization of water levels in the aquifer following pumpage during theprevious year of groundwater production. The district maintains a network of1,205 privately-owned observation wells.

      The April issue of the HighPlains Water District's newsletter, The Cross Section, will feature the resultsof the annual 2007 depth-to-water level measurements. It contains individualcounty maps, which provide the approximate location of each well in thedistrict's observation well network. Each map is accompanied by available 1997,2002, and 2007 depth-to-water level measurements for individual wells in thatcounty. Also listed are available total changes in water levels for eachobservation well for the periods 1997 to 2007, 2002 to 2007, and 2006 to 2007.

      Additional information aboutthe annual depth-to-water level measurement program is available by contactingthe High Plains Underground Water Conservation District No. 1 at (806) 762-0181or by visiting the water district's web site at www.hpwd.com/programs/WellLevel.asp

 

USDA Farm Service Agency PSL-61R

Cotton-UplandPrice-Support Loan Activity As Of April 17, 2007

(Quantity = Bales)

 

STATE

 

QUANTITY PUT UNDER LOAN

 

LOANS REPAID

 

DELIVERED TO CCC

 

LOANS OUTSTANDING

 

Put Under Reserve

 

Form A

Form G

Total

Form A

Form G

Form A

Form G

Form A

Form G

Total

 

AL

46,259

444,236

490,495

12,265

276,687

 

 

 

33,994

167,549

201,543

AZ

9,817

521,684

531,501

1,914

189,142

 

 

 

7,903

332,542

340,445

AR

616,224

1,818,715

2,434,939

190,024

912,177

 

 

 

426,200

906,538

1,332,738

CA

50,290

702,536

752,826

2,936

302,306

 

 

 

47,354

400,230

447,584

FL

4,104

121,315

125,419

1,318

59,222

 

 

 

2,786

62,093

64,879

GA

219,972

1,247,773

1,467,745

75,711

570,450

 

 

 

144,261

677,323

821,584

KS

 

117,447

117,447

 

63,493

 

 

 

 

53,954

53,954

KY

2,475

 

2,475

1,494

 

 

 

 

981

 

981

LA

677,512

533,313

1,210,825

235,031

276,976

 

 

 

442,481

256,337

698,818

MD

 

464

464

 

22

 

 

 

 

442

442

MS

559,019

1,376,442

1,935,461

232,012

519,524

 

 

 

327,007

856,918

1,183,925

MO

262,677

714,410

977,087

72,601

263,793

 

 

 

190,076

450,617

640,693

NE

 

21

21

 

21

 

 

 

 

 

 

NM

21,877

81,032

102,909

1,623

22,814

 

 

 

20,254

58,218

78,472

NC

47,056

985,587

1,032,643

10,316

679,032

 

 

 

36,740

306,555

343,295

OK

14,243

130,512

144,755

2,372

49,154

 

 

 

11,871

81,358

93,229

SC

35,714

219,080

254,794

3,068

147,278

 

 

 

32,646

71,802

104,448

TN

806,795

473,250

1,280,045

190,179

268,475

 

 

 

616,616

204,775

821,391

TX

754,949

4,103,726

4,858,675

115,682

1,646,556

 

 

 

639,267

2,457,170

3,096,437

VA

25,986

71,636

97,622

897

51,794

 

 

 

25,089

19,842

44,931

TOTAL

4,154,969

13,663,179

17,818,148

1,149,443

6,298,916

 

 

 

3,005,526

7,364,263

10,369,789

 

 

STATE

REGULAR LOANS

RESERVE LOANS

CALLED RESERVE LOANS

 

 

Quantity Outstanding

Quantity Outstanding

Quantity Outstanding

 

 

Form A

Form G

Total

Form A

Form G

Total

Form A

Form G

Total

Total

AL

33,994

167,541

201,535

 

 

 

 

 

 

201,535

AZ

7,903

332,540

340,443

 

 

 

 

 

 

340,443

AR

426,200

906,690

1,332,890

 

 

 

 

 

 

1,332,890

CA

47,354

400,241

447,595

 

 

 

 

 

 

447,595

FL

2,786

61,950

64,736

 

 

 

 

 

 

64,736

GA

144,261

677,473

821,734

 

 

 

 

 

 

821,734

KS

 

53,954

53,954

 

 

 

 

 

 

53,954

KY

981

 

981

 

 

 

 

 

 

981

LA

442,481

256,337

698,818

 

 

 

 

 

 

698,818

MD

 

442

442

 

 

 

 

 

 

442

MS

327,007

857,274

1,184,281

 

 

 

 

 

 

1,184,281

MO

190,076

450,463

640,539

 

 

 

 

 

 

640,539

NM

20,254

58,216

78,470

 

 

 

 

 

 

78,470

NC

36,740

306,644

343,384

 

 

 

 

 

 

343,384

OK

11,871

81,358

93,229

 

 

 

 

 

 

93,229

SC

32,646

71,751

104,397

 

 

 

 

 

 

104,397

TN

616,617

204,415

821,032

 

 

 

 

 

 

821,032

TX

639,267

2,457,172

3,096,439

 

 

 

 

 

 

3,096,439

VA

25,089

19,842

44,931

 

 

 

 

 

 

44,931

TOTAL

3,005,527

7,364,303

10,369,830

 

 

 

 

 

 

10,369,830