Congress Approves Additional Disaster
Funds As FSA Delivers First Assistance Payments

Friday, December 21,2007                       By Shawn Wade

      Growerswho thought passage of the Senate's 2007 farm bill was going to be the lastmajor agriculture highlight of the year received a welcome, but not totallyunexpected, pre-Christmas gift from the U.S. Congress with the inclusion of$600 million in additional crop loss disaster assistance funding.

      Theholiday season stocking stuffer will allow the current 2005/2006/2007 Crop LossAssistance Program to include all eligible crops planted during the 2007growing season.

      Priorto this latest Congressional action, the 2005/2006/2007 disaster program waslimited to only those 2007 crops planted before February 28, 2007. Not soanymore as the official eligibility date for 2007 losses has now been extendedto December 31, 2007 for eligible crops.

      Theextra ag disaster assistance money was approved as part of the $555 BillionOmnibus Appropriations Bill that Congress sent to President George BushDecember 19. The Omnibus measure wraps up all of the previously unfinishedCongressional spending bills and also included additional discretionary funds,such as the ag disaster money, and a $70 billion supplemental appropriationspackage to support the Iraq war effort.

      Primarymotivators for Congress providing the additional money were losses thatoccurred in the drought-stricken Southeastern U.S. The extra ag disasterprogram authority is a significant boon to producers nationwide, including manyright here on the Texas High Plains. Texas High Plains where sporadic hailstorms and other weather combined to cause some isolated, but significantlosses in 2007.

      Altogethersome 170,000 acres of High Plains cotton are forecast to have been lost to onecause or another during the growing season by the Texas Agricultural StatisticsService. That figure is also just more than half of the 300,000 or so cottonacres that are projected to have been lost nationwide this year.

Next Step: Figure Out Logistics of 2007Loss Claims

      Thefirst piece of advice for growers who think they will have their greatesteligible loss come from the 2007 growing season is to be patient and wait forthe USDA Farm Service Agency to gather all the information it will need toprocess those claims.

      Knowinghow long it took for the initial data collection process to take place for theoriginal 2005/2006 program, one of the most important questions for FSAofficials to work out is how soon they will be able to get the required federalcrop insurance data on 2007 crop losses.

      Formany spring-seeded crops there are still a few weeks left in the insuranceperiod for the 2007 growing season, so one of the first hurdles for FSA tocross will be working with the USDA Risk Management Agency to determine when2007 insurance data can be provided.

      Howthat question is answered will in large part determine what options will beconsidered for handling 2007 loss claims. At this time the possibilitiesinclude simply modifying current regulations and software to allow growers toput 2007 information in the mix when determining which is their greatest lossyear or handling the 2007 claims as a separate sign-up that would occur onceRMA data is received.

      Amajor concern for growers who might have suffered a significant 2007 loss, butalready filed for and received a claim for a lesser amount in either 2005 or2006 is whether or not they will be excluded from the opportunity to have a2007 loss, that is greater than a loss they have already received, from beingconsidered.

      Whilenothing is set in stone regarding the handling of this type of situation, thereis no indication that a grower that has already received a loss benefit, fromeither 2005 or 2006, would be prevented from filing for a 2007 loss.

      Thepresumed method for handling such a situation would be to have the grower filefor 2007 claim and then compare the total amount due from that claim to anybenefits they have already received. If the 2007 benefit is calculated to behigher than the payment the grower has already received, it is expected thatFSA would issue a supplementary benefit payment for the difference in the twoamounts.

      Iftiming is not an issue growers who suffered a loss in 2007, in addition tohaving an eligible loss in either of the other two years, and have not yetsigned up for program benefits are also advised to be patient and allow FSA towork out the details before heading to the FSA office.

      Additionalinformation about the handling of 2007 Crop Loss Assistance claims authorizedby the Omnibus Appropriations bill will be reported as soon as it becomesavailable.

      Aninteresting side-note to the approval of the additional funds is that itcoincided with the release of the first round of Crop Loss Assistance paymentsby the USDA Farm Service Agency.

      FSAoffices nationwide had been waiting for the go ahead to release payments togrowers that had signed up for the program since enrollment was opened November15.

      FSA'sannouncement that the payments were being made followed a flurry of questionsearlier in the week from Plains Cotton Growers and Lubbock-area Congressmenabout why it was taking so long to get the final program rules published.

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

www.farmpolicyfacts.com


Key Texas Tech CASNR Research Funding
Restored In Omnibus Appropriations Bill

Friday, December 21,2007                       By Shawn Wade

      Therecently passed Omnibus Appropriations bill that wrapped up Congresses 2008 Budgetresponsibilities included the restoration of some important research fundingfor the Texas Tech University College of Agricultural Sciences and NaturalResources (CASNR).

      Accordingto information provided by Dr. Sukant Misra, TTU CASNR's Associate Dean forResearch, as soon as President Bush signs the legislation the final hurdle willhave been cleared to bring back some $3.8 million in key ag research funding.

      Misranotes that these funds will directly support important cotton, sorghum, waterconservation, food safety, farm policy and international trade projects andprograms within the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources atTexas Tech and at collaborating institutions.

      Whilethe funds approved this week do not fully restore all of the funding lostduring the previous Congressional budget cycle, it does ensure the continuationof a majority of this important research work. The following is a roughbreakdown of the ag research areas that will benefit from the additional funds:

Cotton

$1.8 million

Ogallala Aquifer

$3.7 million (20% to CASNR)

Food Industry

$1 million

Great Plains Sorghum

$584,135 (27% to CASNR)

Center for North
American Studies

$737,799 (18% to CASNR)

      Inaddition to the agricultural research dollars included in the bill, severalother Texas Tech research programs also had key finding restored totalingapproximately $4.75 million.

 

USDA: 2007 Census of Agriculture Forms
To Be Mailed Out December 28, 2007

      Theend of December is typically marked by crowds of people returning holiday giftsthat don't fit or won't work, but this year farmers across the country and inTexas can give themselves a gift that won't be returned and will keep on givingeven after the holiday season – a voice for their industry and theircommunity.

      Byfilling out the 2007 Census of Agriculture farmers are investing in the futureof rural America. Their responses will provide lawmakers, governmentorganizations, town planners and individual farm operations with valuableinformation used to plan for services, facilities and other investments tobenefit the industry and local communities.

      Conductedevery five years by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National AgriculturalStatistics Service (NASS), the Census covers virtually every aspect of U.S.agriculture, providing a complete count of the nation's farms and ranches andthe people who operate them.

      NASSwill mail report forms for the Census to farm and ranch operators beginningDec. 28, 2007, to collect data for the 2007 calendar year. Responses are due toNASS by Feb. 2, 2008.

      "Theholiday season is a time of giving and receiving, but perhaps some of the bestgifts are food, clothing and shelter provided to us with help from our U.S.farmers," said David Abbe, director of the NASS Texas Field Office. "As many ofus gather around the dinner table with good food and good friends, theseessentials for everyday living often are taken for granted. By participating inthe 2007 Census of Agriculture, farmers can ensure the vitality of theagriculture industry by providing a strong and unified voice about their needsand concerns."

      TheCensus looks at land use and ownership, operator characteristics, productionpractices, income and expenditures and other topics across the country and inTexas, right down to the county level. NASS will mail out Census forms onDecember 28, 2007 to collect data for the 2007 calendar year. Completed formsare due by February 4, 2008. Producers can return their forms by mail or, forthe first time, they have the convenient option of filling out the Censusonline.

NRCSSupports 2007 Census Efforts

      TheUSDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is urging farmers andranchers to participate in the 2007 Census of Agriculture. While the NationalAgricultural Statistics Service (NASS) is responsible for conducting the 2007Census of Agriculture, the Census is a priority for all agencies within theDepartment of Agriculture.

      "WithinNRCS, every mission area uses Census data on a daily basis, in activitiesranging from determining program allocation formulas to ensuring local servicecenters are staffed at appropriate levels," said Don Gohmert, NRCS stateconservationist for Texas. "We have a vested interest in ensuring a completecount of U.S. farms and ranches, as well as the people who operate them."

      "Participatingin the Census of Agriculture is one gift Texas producers can give themselvesand their local communities this holiday season" added Abbe. "It's a valuableinvestment into the future and well-being of agriculture and to the localcommunities here in Texas."

      Formore information about the Census, visit www.agcensus.usda.gov or calltoll-free (888) 4AG-STAT or (888) 424-7828. The Census is your voice, yourfuture, and your responsibility.

 

2007High Plains Cotton Quality Summary

 

 

Week Ending December 20, 2007:

 

Office

Bales

Color

Leaf

Staple

Lamesa

87,693

21+

2.45

36.19

Lubbock

252,565

21+

2.46

36.29

 

Mike

Strength

Uniformity

Bark

Lamesa

4.22

30.04

80.85

7.5%

Lubbock

4.05

29.81

80.71

3.2%

 

 

Season Totals To Date:

 

Office

Bales

Color

Leaf

Staple

Lamesa

727,780

21+

2.26

36.12

Lubbock

2,382,796

21+

2.39

36.03

 

Mike

Strength

Uniformity

Bark

Lamesa

4.22

29.96

80.91

4.3%

Lubbock

4.07

29.66

80.66

1.6%