Farm Bill Deadline Rapidly Approaching;
Farmers Expect Full Congressional Support

Friday,February 8, 2008                            By Shawn Wade

      Time is usually not anissue for high stakes poker players, unless the game they are in is political,located in Washington, DC, and the stakes include completion of a criticalpiece of “must-pass” legislation that revamps expiring U.S. farm policy.

      Keeping one eye on theclock and the other on the opposition is, however, the position thatCongressional leaders working to complete a new Farm Bill find themselves inheading into the middle of February.

      The biggest challengefor House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson (D-MN) and SenateAgriculture Committee Chairman Tom Harkin (D-IA) isn’t necessarily going to beworking out the differences in their respective versions of the Farm Bill.Approved last year, the two bills are similar enough in both substance andstructure that finding the middle ground between them shouldn’t be overlydifficult.

      Behind the scenes,staff level work to accomplish that reconciliation has been ongoing sincepassage of the Senate bill in mid-December. Publicly, however, the firstvisible action to initiate that process was taken this week when the Senatenamed its’ conference committee contingent. The House of Representatives hasyet to name its’ Farm Bill conferees.

      Joining the conferencecommittee from the Senate will be Agriculture Committee Chairman Harkin,ranking member Senator Saxby Chambliss (R-GA); Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT);Senator Kent Conrad (D-ND); Senator Max Baucus (D-MT); Senator Blanche Lincoln(D-AR); Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI); Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN); SenatorThad Cochran (R-MS); Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS); and Senator Charles Grassley(R-IA).

      The real challenge forPeterson and Harkin will be deciding how they will begin the process and howmuch they will allow input they are receiving from the Bush Administration toinfluence their opening positions.

      Administrationofficials have been vocal and persistent critics of the bipartisan legislationthat Congress is set to reconcile.

      As the third player inthe game, the Bush Administration continues to push for changes outside of thescope of the two bills debated and approved by Congress. President Bush, asrecently as February 6, has said he will veto the Farm Bill if Administrationdemands are not met.

      Even though theAdministration’s formal role is limited to signing or vetoing the final billafter it has been negotiated and passed by the people’s representatives inCongress, Administration officials will get to provide input to both sidesduring the conference process.

      With a March 15deadline for expiration of the 2002 farm bill rapidly approaching, reports fromWashington indicate that Congressional leaders are moving forward even thoughtheir final destination is less than certain.

      Whether or notCongress will stand by its previous work and send a Farm Bill to the Presidentis just one concern voiced by America’s farmers and ranchers heading into thelast phase of the Farm Bill process.

      The bigger questionfor many in agriculture is whether or not their local representatives inCongress will choose to support the reform-oriented and bipartisan farm billthey crafted if the Administration chooses to veto the bill.

      While completing thisimportant legislation is still the goal of Congressional leaders, both ChairmanPeterson and Chairman Harkin have made it clear that a Presidential veto couldset the stage for U.S. agriculture policy to revert back to the permanentlegislation of the 1933 and 1949 Agricultural Adjustment Acts.

      To prevent this fromhappening, it is important for farm state members of the House and Senate tostand behind the legislation they crafted if political push comes to shove andlet their constituents know that is what they are going to do.

      The bottom line isthat, at this stage of the game, few in agriculture are willing to get caughtup in the semantics of describing a policy alternative as a tax increaseinstead of the closure of a tax loophole. What they want is the knowledge thattheir elected representatives are prepared to represent their interests andsecure the future of U.S. agriculture.

 

NCC’s 25th Early Season PlantingIntentions
Survey Says 9.32 Million Upland Cotton Acres

Friday,February 8, 2008                            By Shawn Wade

      The most anticipatednews from the opening day of the National Cotton Council’s 2008 Annual Meetingwere the results of the NCC’s 2008 early Season Planting Intentions Survey.Cotton industry members already anticipating a significant change were notdisappointed as the NCC survey projected an additional 11.6 percent decline inU.S. cotton acres from 2007.

      The survey’s resultswere announced during the American Cotton Producers meeting after the marketsclosed Friday afternoon.

      Nationally, the NCCsurvey noted that total U.S. cotton acreage was forecast at 9.5 million acres.Upland cotton accounts for 9.32 million acres of the total with an additional231,000 acres of Extra long staple (ELS) cotton bringing the total to 9.5million acres.

      According to the NCCsurvey, 4.788 million acres of Texas cotton will account for more than 50percent of all U.S. cotton plantings in 2008. Texas producers planted 4.9million acres in 2007.

      Based on surveyresults, the Southeast, Mid-South, Southwest and Far West show intended uplandcotton planting decreases of 12 percent, 26 percent, 2 percent and 39 percent,respectively.

      The Southwest region,though, showed the strongest affinity for cotton heading into 2008. Texascotton acres are projected to decrease only 2.3 percent, the lowest of anystate indicating a decline. In 2008 Oklahoma and Kansas cotton acreage wasprojected to increase by 2.6 and 15.6 percent, respectively.

      Carryingthe NCC survey numbers out to expected production in 2008, and assuming an average abandonment rate, indicates total uplandand ELS harvested area would be about 8.76 million acres.

      Applying state-level yieldassumptions to projected harvested acres generates a potential crop of about15.38 million bales. This compares to 2007’s total production of 19.03 millionbales. Assuming average seed-to-lint ratios, 2008 cottonseed production isprojected at 5.28 million tons, down from6.60 million last year.

      Surveyresults for all Southeastern states indicate declining cotton acreage, shiftingto a double-crop of winter wheat and soybeans.

      TheCarolinas reported the largest percentage declines, between 20 percent and 22percent. Respondents in Alabama indicated an 11 percent reduction in cottonacreage while Florida growers are planning a 17 percent cutback. Georgia andVirginia respondents indicated the smallest declines of 5 percent and 6percent, respectively.

      AllMid-South states indicate a shift from cotton to wheat and soybeans with majorpercentage decreases in Mississippi (-31), Arkansas (-30) and Tennessee (-29).Smaller declines are expected in Louisiana (-18) and Missouri (-8).

      Foradditional details, see the table at http://www.cotton.org/econ/reports/intentions.cfm

 

Want the facts aboutthe U.S. farm policy. Get what you need at:

www.farmpolicyfacts.com

 

PCG’s 2008 Seed Cost Calculator

      Anupdated version of the 2008 Plains Cotton Growers Seed Cost Calculator is nowavailable. Growers interested in comparing prices for their 2008 planting seedoptions can download the calculator at http://www.plainscotton.org.

      The2008 version includes 129 conventional, Roundup Ready, Roundup Ready FLEX,Liberty Link, Bollgard and Bollgard II and Widestrike varieties, as well asnumerous stacked gene versions of these technologies that will be available forsale in West Texas in 2008. Should information on additional varieties becomeavailable, an update to the spreadsheet will be developed and posted on PCG'swebsite.

      ThePCG calculator is an interactive Microsoft Excel spreadsheet that allowsproducers to calculate an estimated cost per acre, for both seed andtechnology, based on published suggested retail prices.

 

2007-CROP HIGH PLAINS COTTON QUALITY SUMMARY

 

 

Week Ending February 7, 2008:

 

Office

Bales

Color

Leaf

Staple

Lamesa

66,338

21+

2.67

35.80

Lubbock

113,187

21+

2.72

35.98

 

Mike

Strength

Uniformity

Bark

Lamesa

4.14

28.99

80.42

14.8%

Lubbock

3.97

29.39

80.56

7.8%

 

 

Season Totals To Date:

 

Office

Bales

Color

Leaf

Staple

Lamesa

1,273,788

21+

2.39

36.02

Lubbock

3,505,965

21+

2.47

36.01

 

Mike

Strength

Uniformity

Bark

Lamesa

4.20

29.75

80.83

6.7%

Lubbock

4.06

29.57

80.62

3.0%

Source: USDA AMS Cotton Division