Senate Farm Bill Debate Taking Shape;
Divergent Politics To Pose Real Challenge

Friday, November 2, 2007                              By Shawn Wade

      Having spent a lot of timeover the last month in Washington, DC, Plains Cotton Growers Executive VicePresident Steve Verett knows the challenges facing agriculture during next week'sfarm bill debate in the Senate.

      As he prepares to head backto Washington early next week, Verett says it is time to encourage each andevery member of the Senate to support the hard work done by the SenateAgriculture Committee and ask them to support passage of the Food and EnergySecurity Act of 2007 when it comes to the floor.

      Following its relativelysmooth trip through the Senate Agriculture, Nutritionand Forestry Committee, the Senate farm bill represents anotherimportant step in the process to develop U.S. agriculture policy that will bein effect through 2012.

      The final, and mostchallenging part of the process in the Senate is now at hand and, according toVerett, it will be a vastly different landscape than what producers have seentraversed so far by their representatives in Washington.

      "Compared to the restrainedand respectful discourse that has allowed the process to move forward so far,"explains Verett, "The Senate floor debate could easily be far less friendly andseem considerably less structured simply due to the manner in which the Senateconducts business."

      Having been characterized asa potential "free-for-all" by Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Tom Harkin,the Senate debate could take quite some time based on Senate rules andexpectations that a sizeable number of amendments will be offered along theway.

      Among the hot button issuesexpected to make an appearance during the debate is a controversial "AgJobs"amendment that would draw the politically divisive immigration reform issueinto the realm of the farm bill debate.

      Also expected are numerousefforts to try and alter the significant pay limit reforms that were hammeredout by the Senate Agriculture Committee, make additional cuts in the federalcrop insurance program over and above what was agreed to by the Committee andmake additional changes to the proposed Average Crop revenue option that wasincluded in the final bill.

      The immigration and pay limitamendments may well take center stage as high profile issues during the debate,but equally important will be fending off the less publicized amendments thatcould undermine the bill's ability to continue the highly popular and fiscallyresponsible safety net provisions that are the foundation of the 2002 farmbill.

      Add in the possibility thatthe Senate may also need to set aside time to consider other pending items ofbusiness and it is not hard to imagine that the farm bill debate could take aslong as 2 weeks to complete.

      According to statements fromSenate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, the goal will certainly be to getthe bill done in one week's time, but even he has been compelled to leave thedoor open for a longer timetable.

      Overcoming the challengesthat lie ahead, says Verett, will take a concerted effort that should logicallyinclude a broad range of interests, including commodity, conservation and foodand nutrition groups, who each have a lot to gain in the bill's current form.

      "Leaders from both sides ofthe aisle have worked hard toward a common goal and within a very restrictedbudget allocation," explains Verett. "Despite these challenges they were ableto find common ground, add to the safety net options available to growers andstill make substantial changes in many areas such as pay limit reform, addingsupport for the fruits and vegetables, beefing up conservation spending andcommitting additional funds to food and nutrition programs nationwide."

      Understanding that the Senatebill is the necessary "next step" in the process, Verett says Plains CottonGrowers will be working hard to support the bill that came out of the Senateand to prevent it from being undermined in any way.

      "We are working closely withthe National Cotton Council and others to secure passage of the Senate bill andto defeat the addition of amendments that would be harmful to cotton producersand the cotton industry as a whole," concludes Verett.

 

Updated Crop Disaster Calculator Ready for
Download from TCE and PCG Websites

      An updated version of theTexas Cooperative Extension/Plains Cotton Growers, Inc. 2005/2006 Crop DisasterCalculator is now available. The revised calculator can be used to estimatedisaster benefits from losses incurred during the 2005 or 2006 growing seasons.

      To download the updatedcalculator from the Plains Cotton Growers website, follow the links on the PCGHome page located at www.plainscotton.org.

     

2007 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 25, 2006:

 

Office

Bales

Color

Leaf

Staple

Lamesa

67,656

21+

2.09

35.96

Lubbock

202,672

21+

2.38

35.76

 

Mike

Strength

Uniformity

Bark

Lamesa

4.27

29.43

80.88

3.8%

Lubbock

4.17

29.4

80.6

2.0%

 

 

Season Totals To Date:

 

Office

Bales

Color

Leaf

Staple

Lamesa

113,736

21+

2.2

35.79

Lubbock

357,578

21+

2.43

35.62

 

Mike

Strength

Uniformity

Bark

Lamesa

4.25

28.96

80.81

3.4%

Lubbock

4.18

29.27

80.55

1.8%