ChairmanRolling Out New Ideas As Senate Ag
Heads Toward Planned Oct. 23 Mark-up

Friday, October 19, 2007                           By Shawn Wade

      With the on-again, off-againSenate Farm Bill mark-up process set to possibly be on again some time nextweek, a flurry of new information about what might actually be on the table fordiscussion has erupted from Washington over the past few days.

      Among the concepts that havebeen included in a recently announced policy and budget framework agreement, isyet another iteration of an optional Revenue Counter-cyclical program that hasmost major commodity groups, and quite a few legislators, concerned aboutlong-term policy ramifications that might come into play.

      While little is actuallyunderstood about how this latest variation is designed to work, the little thatis known has quickly prompted a flurry of red flags to be raised by a broadcross-section of the agriculture industry.

      As has been the case sincethe start of this farm bill cycle budget considerations and a tight baselinehave forced some creative thinking to occur on Capitol Hill and not all of theideas that have emerged would be considered wise policy alternatives under amore favorable budget baseline.

      With so many of the policyalternatives likely to be discussed in the Senate Ag Committee deliberationhaving made their public debut in just the last few days, there is still a lotthat isn't known about how many of them are expected to work.

      That concern, however, isn'tenough to cause postponement of Senate deliberations according to a recentcommunication from industry groups to Senate Ag Committee leaders.

      In an effort to keep theprocess moving forward the cotton industry, through the National CottonCouncil, has joined other commodity groups signing a letter to SenateAgriculture Committee Chairman Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Ranking Member SaxbyChambliss (R-GA) encouraging them to keep the process moving forward andproceed with a previously discussed mark-up session the week of October 22.

      Theprimary message communicated in the letter signed by organizations representingcotton, rice, wheat, peanuts, grain sorghum, soybeans, minor oilseeds, dairyand sugar was that it was important to each of the organizations that theprocess move forward. The American Farm Bureau Federation, National FarmersUnion, and the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture alsosigned the letter.

      "Whileeach of our organizations may have concerns and questions about details of theframework agreement, particularly the relatively new version of a revenueoption we believe it is imperative that the Senate complete work on itsversion of new farm legislation so a conference committee can be appointed,"the letter stated.

      Theletter also noted that important provisions of current farm law have recentlyexpired – and farmers and ranchers need to have policy in place in orderto make well-informed financing, cropping and marketing decisions.

 

Wantthe facts about the U.S. farm policy. Get what you need at:

http://www.farmpolicyfacts.com

 

NeugebauerDiscusses Cotton; Delivers House
WTO Letter To USTR Susan Schwab

Friday, October 19, 2007                           By Shawn Wade

      Thirty-threemembers of the U.S. House of Representatives signed a letter to U.S. TradeRepresentative Susan Schwab encouraging her to pursue strong efforts on U.S.agriculture's behalf during the WTO Doha Agriculture negotiation process andput an exclamation point on the significant concerns they have with theproposed cotton text submitted by WTO Ambassador Crawford Falconer.

      Deliveringthe letter to Schwab was Texas Congressman Randy Neugebauer (R-Lubbock), whosat down with the U.S. Trade Representative in his Washington offices to discussthe status and direction of the WTO Doha Agriculture negotiation.

      Duringthe meeting Neugebauer said he reinforced the positions outlined in the Houseletter regarding the importance of the negotiations to American agriculture andthat the currently proposed cotton language was unacceptable.

      "Simplystated, the draft cotton language is unacceptable because it singles out cottonfor different treatment than the rest of agriculture," Neugebauer explained. "Mymessage to Ambassador Schwab was that our U.S. negotiators need to work to getthis language removed or changed significantly, and I asked her to work closelywith representatives for U.S. cotton producers to this end."

      Neugebauernoted that as Schwab continues to work on the WTO agriculture agreement, hisover-riding concern is that she work for a balanced agreement that doesn'tinclude unfair treatment of any single commodity such as cotton.

      Neugebauerclosed his discussion with Schwab with a request that the USTR appeal therecent WTO panel decision in the case brought by Brazil claiming the U.S. notfully complied with the 2005 ruling regarding cotton subsidies.

 

ProducersEncouraged To Consider Benefits
Of Cotton Module Averaging Program

Friday, October 19, 2007                           By Shawn Wade

      The USDA's AgriculturalMarketing Service Cotton Program is justifiably proud of the quality of servicethey provide to the U.S. cotton producer.

      Having perfected both thescience and the art of producing fast and accurate quality measurements for aninherently variable commodity, the folks responsible for insuring thereliability of the cotton classification process are always looking for ways toimprove the quality of the information they provide.

      For the U.S. cotton producera quality product from the cotton classification system means receiving anaccurate measure of their crop's quality parameters, ensuring they get the bestprice possible for their cotton.

      As the U.S. cotton producer'sultimate customer, the textile mill buyer counts on the accuracy of the USDAmeasurements. Equally important, though, for the textile mill operator is therepeatability of the quality measurements provided by the USDA classificationprocess.

      Because of cotton's inherentvariability the goal of the textile mill is to identify the right blend offiber characteristics that allows them to create quality yarn and fabric. Thatvariability is also what makes quantifying the quality of the fiber in a cottonbale such a challenge.

      The Cotton Division has anunparalleled track record in the realm of cotton fiber quality measurement andboasts impressive reproducibility statistics using High Volume Instrument (HVI)classification equipment. Improving the repeatability of their results is anongoing process within the Cotton Division.

      One of the ways they canimprove the repeatability of fiber measurements after retesting, which is now acommon practice among textile mill worldwide prior to spinning, is the CottonDivision's Module Averaging Program.

      Since 1991, the CottonDivision has offered a voluntary Module Averaging program to growers interestedin improving the accuracy of the cotton classification results they receive.

      The Module Averaging programis typically opted for by growers on 20-25 percent of the cotton produced inthe U.S. The program utilizes information provided by the gin to group balesginned from the same module.

      Module Averaged bales aretested just like non-participating bales, and receive individually-based Color,Leaf and Extraneous Matter grades. Once measured only the individual HVI valuesfor Length, Strength, Length Uniformity and Micronaire are utilized in theModule Average procedures.

      The calculated averages arethen cross-checked and will only be assigned to each bale in the group afterUSDA verifies that no individual bale reading falls outside a narrow rangeabove and below the averages calculated for each parameter.

      Bales that fall outside of apredetermined range above or below the calculated averages are called "outliers"and are assigned their individual HVI fiber measurements.

      According to Cotton Programofficials Module averaging improves the repeatability of the 4 HVI measurementsby 5 percent for Micronaire, 11 percent for Length, 13 percent for Strength and10 percent for Length Uniformity.

      Cotton Program officials notethat even though data collected in recent years indicates a slight positiveeconomic return to the producer by module averaging, the main benefit lies inthe increased reproducibility of the HVI data involved and the increasedreliability of the measurements when used by textile customers.

      With over 16 years andmillions of bales worth of data to verify the results, Cotton Program officialnote that Module Averaging is simply a more accurate means of assigningclassing data for Length, Strength, Length Uniformity and Micronaire.

      Cotton Program officials addthat producers can participate on as much or as little of their crop as theywish and that there is no requirement that all of a producers production beenrolled in the program. All that a producer needs to do to participate in theModule Averaging program is to contact their cotton ginner and let them knowwhich cotton they want module averaged.

      The Cotton Program will thenwork with the cotton gin to retrieve the module numbers and bale rangesnecessary to perform the averaging process on identified modules.

      For more information aboutthe Module Averaging program and the benefits that can be obtained producersare encouraged to contact the Cotton Program office nearest them. High Plainscotton producers can contact either the Lubbock Cotton Classing office at806-472-7621 or the Lamesa Cotton Classing office at 806-872-8870.

 

2007-crop Cotton Quality Summary

      Thefollowing is a summary of the cotton classed at the Lubbock and Lamesa USDACotton Division Cotton Classing Offices for the 2007 production season.

 

Week Ending October 18, 2007:

 

Office

Bales

Color

Leaf

Staple

Lamesa

10,240

21+

2.87

35.37

Lubbock

39,511

21+

2.46

35.42

 

Mike

Strength

Uniformity

Bark

Lamesa

4.21

27.85

80.72

6.3%

Lubbock

4.25

29.29

80.69

2.0%

 

 

Season Totals To Date:

 

Office

Bales

Color

Leaf

Staple

Lamesa

11,954

21+

2.93

35.30

Lubbock

48,680

21+

2.56

35.34

 

Mike

Strength

Uniformity

Bark

Lamesa

4.14

27.72

80.57

5.4%

Lubbock

4.26

29.24

80.68

2.1%