Late Season Storms Take A Toll;
NASS Crop Report Reflects Favorable September

Friday, October 12, 2007                     By Shawn Wade

      Theaftermath of a late season hailstorm that slashed its way through the HighPlains October 10 could ultimately cancel out the beneficial effects of a nearperfect September for the Texas High Plains.

      Takingstock of the good news first, the October 12 Crop Production report from USDA'sNational Agriculture Statistics Service indicates High Plains yield potentialincreased during the month of September edging up 60 pounds to 777 pounds perharvested acre.

      Yieldprospects for the region increased by 116 pounds in Texas AgriculturalStatistics Service (TASS) crop reporting district 1-N and by 48 pounds in TASSdistrict 1-S. Production estimates for districts 1-N and 1-S are 1.03 millionand 3.86 million bales, respectively.

      Accordingto TASS officials, the primary driver in the yield increase was the averageboll weights obtained during the Agency's objective Yield Survey process. Accordingto the TASS survey data, Texas boll weights are the heaviest they have been inten years.

      Totalproduction for the area is now forecast at a noteworthy 4.89 million bales,380,000 bales above the September 1 estimate of 4.51 million bales. That totalis also 20,000 bales over the 4.87 million bales produced in the area in 2004.The 2004 crop year currently ranks as the second largest cotton production yearon record.

      The380,000 bale increase in the 2007 High Plains production forecast was fueled bya near perfect September that featured heat unit accumulations 28 percent abovethe region's long-term average.

      On alarger scale, the increases reported for the High Plains and Rolling Plainsregions of Texas pushed Texas cotton production estimate to 7.5 million bales.

      Nationally,U.S. Upland cotton production is forecast at 17.378 million bales, up 359,000bales from last September. Adding Pima cotton to the mix raises the U.S. Allcotton forecast to 18.2 million bales.

      Recentweather events, however, could temper some of the enthusiasm generated byimproving crop prospects. Late season weather patterns on the High Plains canoften be just as volatile as those experienced in the spring.

      Thatfact was borne out in graphic detail earlier this week when a rapidly buildingstorm raced through western Hale County, Texas. The storm, which left hailstones piled several inches deep along roadways leading into the community ofHalfway more than 12 hours after it passed, damaged an estimated 20-30,000 acresof irrigated cotton.

      Whilenot all of this acreage was completely destroyed, quite a few fields will neversee a harvester enter them. For the individual producers affected by thestorms, the losses are particularly hard to swallow.

      Comingless than 48 hours before the release of today's October Crop Productionreport, the October 10 storm might ultimately knock 25,000-35,000 bales fromtoday's 380,000 bale increase for the High Plains.

 

TEXAS UPLAND COTTON DISTRICTESTIMATES

2006 AND 2007 1/

Districts

Planted Acres

Harvested Acres

Yield

Production

 

2006

2007

2006

2007

2006

2007

2006

2007

 

1,000 acres

1,000 acres

Pounds

1,000 bales

1-N

994.7

590.0

850.1

540.0

889

916

1,575.2

1,030.0

1-S

2,883.2

2,600.0

1,880.4

2,480.0

637

747

2,497.1

3,860.0

2-N

426.3

340.0

251.2

340.0

497

678

260.2

480.0

2-S

548.0

440.0

265.6

440.0

311

709

171.9

650.0

4

157.9

85.0

156.5

85.0

482

621

157.0

110.0

7

189.0

160.0

92.8

155.0

679

898

131.2

290.0

8-N

109.2

60.0

58.7

55.0

885

873

108.2

100.0

8-S

455.8

300.0

147.1

295.0

716

846

219.4

520.0

9

236.6

150.0

228.5

145.0

881

662

419.2

200.0

10-N

62.0

17.0

923

32.7

10-S

266.2

100.0

85.4

95.0

687

707

122.3

140.0

Other

71.1

75.0

66.7

70.0

760

823

105.6

120.0

STATE

6,400.0

4,900.0

4,100.0

4,700.0

679

766

5,800.0

7,500.0

1/ Preliminary, October,2007. Source: USDA, NASS

Federal CourtBlocks Implementation of
Revised "No Match" Rules For Employers

Friday, October 12, 2007                           By Shawn Wade

      Agricultural employers thatrely heavily on seasonal laborers are breathing a big sigh of relief thanks toa preliminary injunction halting the implementation of the so-called "No Match"rule by a San Francisco Federal Court Judge.

      Based on the federal court'sruling the Bush Administration's plan to crackdown on the hiring of illegalforeign workers has essentially been permanently shelved.

      It also means that employerswill continue to be able to hire workers based on the documentation they arepresented and will not be required to fire workers later if the Social Securitynumber they provide fails to match the Social Security Administration'sdatabase.

      "This ruling is particularlygood news for the agriculture industry which relies heavily on seasonal laborand has to deal with a significant amount of turnover within that pool ofpotential employees," says PCG Executive Vice President Steve Verett. "As wehead into the harvest and ginning season on the High Plains this ruling shouldallow our employers to continue to hire new employees under the current rulesand not have to waste valuable time and resources ironing out potentialdiscrepancies between employee provided information and the Social SecurityAdministration."

      If enacted, the proposed rulewould have meant employers that hire new workers whose documentation failed tomatch up with the SSA database would have received their usual warning aboutdiscrepancies caused either by fraud or human error.

      The revised plan put forth bythe Bush Administration would have meant a second letter from the Department ofHomeland Security would have accompanied the SSA "No Match" letter.

      The Homeland Security letterwould have further warned employers that they had to resolve any questionsabout their employees' identity or fire the employee within 90 days. Employersfailing to conform to the additional requirements would have faced punishmentin the form of fines and/or prosecution.

      Arguing against the new ruleswas an unlikely coalition that included the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, theAFL-CIO and the American Civil Liberties Union. They argued that the SSA'sdatabase is too unreliable to be used for the intended purpose.

      The crux of their argument,and one of the primary factors that swayed the judge deciding the case, was theprobability that a significant number of legal workers were likely to beadversely impacted due to the inaccuracies that exist in the SSA records.    Businessleaders nationwide were pleased with the injunction, saying, among otherthings, that it buys them time to keep the operations running as the nationpursues development of a fair and reliable immigration reform package.

 

NASS ToConduct ARMS Survey

Friday, October 12, 2007                           By Shawn Wade

      According to the NationalAgricultural Statistics Service one of the most useful sources of informationon what is going on in production agriculture is the Agricultural ResourceManagement Survey (ARMS).

      Used by a wide array ofCongressional, agriculture industry, public and private institutions, ARMSprovides a snapshot of the overall trends that are driving efficiency andproductivity and the adoption of new technology and management practices onAmerica's farms and ranches.

      To answer important questionsabout U.S. agriculture, the USDA's NASS, Texas Office will conduct the 2007Agricultural Resource Management Survey (ARMS). During the fall of 2007 thissurvey will gather information on production practices, chemical applications,and pest management practices. In addition, some of the costs to produce thecrops will be recorded.

      Texas producers selected toparticipate in the ARMS will be making an important contribution to the overallwelfare of the U.S. agricultural community. This survey gives participants anopportunity to set the record straight about issues that affect them, such asthe use of fertilizers and pesticides.

      "The ARMS survey is anexcellent opportunity for a farmer to insure that people outside mainstreamagriculture have accurate views about what, and how we do things on the farm,"says Executive Vice President of Plains Cotton Growers Inc., Steve Verett. "Thisinformation will eventually be used to analyze a variety of legislative andregulatory issues and could ultimately influence the development of laws andregulations that impact so much of what we do every day."

      Texas farm operators selectedto participate in this year's survey are being notified by letter, andinterviewers will visit them to collect their reports at their convenience. USDA will use the results to publish information on agricultural chemical usageand analyze commodity production costs and returns in a series of reports in2008.

      "ARMS is USDA's primarysource of information on the production practices, resource use and economicwell-being of America's farm households," says David Abbe, Texas State DirectorUSDA/NASS "Virtually every federal farm program and policy is based on ARMSdata."

      Abbe noted that federalconservation, price support, risk management and research programs all rely onthis data and it is important that farmers take the time to participate andensure that USDA collects the most accurate and up-to-date information.

      "NASS safeguards theconfidentiality of all responses and publishes only state- and national-leveldata, ensuring that no individual operation or producer can be identified fromthe results," said Abbe.

      All agricultural statisticspublished by NASS are available at www.nass.usda.gov. For more information, call1-800-626-3142.

 

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