Impasse or Breakthrough? House Farm Bill
Proposal Spurs Renewed Discussions

Friday, February 15, 2008                          By Shawn Wade

      Thatfact that it seems to have broken the stalemate in talks between the House andSenate regarding the 2007 Farm bill was the most positive thing that farmgroups have been willing to say about House Agriculture Committee ChairmanCollin Peterson’s (D-ND) proposed Farm Bill plan.

      Asmight be expected from an offer where most of the cuts are made in areas thatcomprise the smallest percentage of expenditures, the House proposal has metwith criticism from many sources including the Senate.

      Theproposal, developed by Peterson and House Agriculture Committee ranking memberBob Goodlatte (R-VA), was pulled together following discussions with BushAdministration officials but without any input from the Senate.

      Positionedas a starting point from which negotiations between the House and Senate cangain momentum, the House plan includes many changes aimed at minimizing theamount of money needed over and above current baseline spending authority tofund expansion of programs in areas such as nutrition and renewable energy.

      TheHouse proposal, which is reworked to be a 10-year farm bill expiring in 2017,would require an additional $6.1 billion in funding authority and a softeningof the Bush Administration’s current veto threat for any bill that raises moneythrough tax code tweaks or tax increases.

      PlainsCotton Growers Executive Vice President Steve Verett had a front-row seat to thenew activity having spent a majority of the week in Washington participating inthe Lubbock Chamber of Commerce’s annual Washington, DC Fly-in. Joining Veretton the trip was current PCG officer Brad Heffington of Littlefield.

      Indiscussing the events of the week and how they may impact the process movingforward, Verett noted that overall the House proposal is viewed as unacceptableby cotton growers, primarily due to the proposed changes to the Adjusted GrossIncome eligibility provisions. A positive result of the proposal however isthat it has moved the process forward, said Verett.

      “Iappreciate the effort that Chairman Peterson has put forth to try and movethings forward,” said Verett. “We may not agree on the nuts and bolts of thisinitial proposal, but we have to remember that the Conference process is firstand foremost a negotiation between the House and the Senate.”

      “Ourfocus will continue to be development of the best farm bill possible for cottonproducers and all of U.S. agriculture,” concluded Verett. “I am confident thatthe House and Senate conferees will be able to achieve this goal in a fiscallyresponsible manner and send a good bill to the President that contains bothsignificant reform and addresses the new priorities identified by theAdministration and Congress.”

      Atthe end of the day, Chairman Peterson’s House proposal appears to have engagedthe Senate in the discussion that seems to be the crux of the farm billroadblock – finding new money needed to pay for new and expanded programsin both bills.

      Whileno agreement has yet been reached heading into the weeklong President’s Dayholiday, the Senate is expected to release a counteroffer to the House on thefunding question.

      Mostexpectations are that the Senate will counter with a proposal that requires anadditional $12 billion over the current ten-year baseline fundingauthorization.

      If anagreement on the extra funding is reached, Congress will have approximatelythree weeks to complete the farm bill Conference and send a bill to thePresident before current funding extensions expire on March 15.

      Howreceptive the President will be to the final legislation will in large part bedetermined by the funding agreement reached between the House and Senate andthe manner in which the extra money is supplied.

      HighPlains members of the House Committee on Agriculture, Representatives RandyNeugebauer and Mike Conaway, have been actively engaged in the process to getto an agreement between the House and Senate on the budget number and inencouraging the White House to sign the final bill when it’s passed byCongress.

      CongressmanConaway acknowledged the effort of Chairman Peterson and ranking memberGoodlatte on development of the House proposal. In discussing the House conceptConaway said he was encouraged by the hard work of the Chairman, the rankingmember and the Administration to put political and partisan differences asideand advance the interests of American agriculture and rural communities.

      “Ianxiously await the next step of this process, which will involve working withour colleagues in the Senate to build on the negotiations and draft finallegislation,” concluded Conaway.

      Followingthe release of the House proposal, Congressman Neugebauer shared Conaway’sposition and also took advantage of two opportunities he had during the week tocommunicate directly to USDA Secretary Ed Schafer his thoughts on the process,and the importance of the Administration supporting the final bill developed byCongress.

      Indiscussing the issue with the Secretary, Neugebauer made it clear he will standon the side of agriculture in his Congressional district when it comes down topassage of a Farm Bill and any follow-up action that might be required if thePresident should choose to veto the legislation.

      Theend result of all this week’s wrangling is an opportunity for House and Senateleaders to find common ground and come back ready to finish the farm billconference.

 

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

www.farmpolicyfacts.com

 

USDA Announces 2007 Partial Counter-Cyclical
Payments For Cotton And Peanuts

Friday, February 15, 2008                          By Shawn Wade

      NewUSDA Secretary of Agriculture Ed Schafer has announced that partial2007-crop-year Counter-cyclical (CC) payments would be issued to producers withupland cotton and/or peanut base acres enrolled in USDA's 2007 Direct andCounter-cyclical Program (DCP).

      Schafer’sannouncement came during the National Cotton Council’s Annual Meeting February9 in Memphis, TN. Since that time some $315 million in partial 2007 CC paymentshave been delivered to cotton and peanut producers nationwide.

      USDAsays producers with enrolled upland cotton and peanut base acres received $300million and $15 million, respectively, in partial CC payments. The 2007-cropyear projected partial payment rates equal 40 percent of the projected final CCpayment amount.

      Paymentrates for the partial payments are $0.0309 per pound for upland cotton and$7.60 per short ton for peanuts. USDA calculated the partial CC payment ratesusing the February World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates, released onFebruary 8, 2008.

      The2002 Farm Bill authorized preliminary partial payments for the 2007 crop to bemade six months after the start of the marketing year, which began on August 1,2007, for these commodities.

      Producersenrolled in DCP may receive CC payments when "effective" prices foreligible commodities are less than their respective "target" pricesspecified in the 2002 Farm Bill. USDA calculates CC payments based on thecalculated rate and on historical base acreage and payment yields, not currentproduction. The 2002 Farm Bill requires that any overpayments to producers mustbe repaid. More information on DCP is available at local FSA offices and onFSA's Web site at: http://www.fsa.usda.gov.

 

Moore County To Hold Cotton Production
Meeting February 19 At Moore Co. Gin

Friday, February 15, 2008                          By Shawn Wade

      TheTexas AgriLife Extension Service - Moore County Office is sponsoring a cottonmeeting on Tuesday, February 19, 2008 at the Moore County Gin, 11830 US Hwy.287.

      Themeeting will begin at 9:00 a.m. and will last until 12:00 Noon. A noon mealwill be provided. Three continuing education units will be available, one hourin Integrated Pest Management and two hours in General.

      Theagenda for the meeting will be as follows: Flex Cotton Management - T.K. Baker,Monsanto; Water Management – Dr. Leon New, Water Specialist - TexasAgriLife Extension Service; Variety Trial Implications – Dr. Randy Boman,Cotton Specialist - Texas AgriLife Extension Service; Insect Management –Dr. David Kerns, Cotton Entomologist - Texas AgriLife Extension Service; MarketOutlook - Leighton Stovall, Manager - Moore County Gin; Crop ConsultantsPerspective; Cotton Overview in Moore County – Dr. Boman.

      Themoderator for the meeting will be Marcel Fischbacher, Jr., Moore CountyExtension Agent - Agriculture and Natural Resources.

      Thecotton meeting is free of charge and open to the public. If you havequestions, please contact the Texas AgriLife Extension Service - Moore CountyOffice at 806-935-2593.

 

PCG’s2008 Seed Cost Calculator

      An updated version of the2008 Plains Cotton Growers Seed Cost Calculator is now available. Growersinterested in comparing prices for their 2008 planting seed options candownload the calculator at http://www.plainscotton.org.

      The 2008 version includes 129conventional, Roundup Ready, Roundup Ready FLEX, Liberty Link, Bollgard andBollgard II and Widestrike varieties, as well as numerous stacked gene versionsof these technologies that will be available for sale in West Texas in 2008.Should information on additional varieties become available, an update to thespreadsheet will be developed and posted on PCG's website.

      The PCG calculator is aninteractive Microsoft Excel spreadsheet that allows producers to calculate anestimated cost per acre, for both seed and technology, based on published suggestedretail prices.

 

2007-CROP HIGH PLAINS
COTTON QUALITY SUMMARY

 

 

Week Ending February 14, 2008:

 

Office

Bales

Color

Leaf

Staple

Lamesa

59,325

21+

2.69

35.79

Lubbock

90,4187

21+

2.74

36.04

 

Mike

Strength

Uniformity

Bark

Lamesa

4.16

28.96

80.49

17.7%

Lubbock

4.00

29.25

80.58

9.2%

 

 

Season Totals To Date:

 

Office

Bales

Color

Leaf

Staple

Lamesa

1,333,097

21+

2.41

36.01

Lubbock

3,596,284

21+

2.48

36.01

 

Mike

Strength

Uniformity

Bark

Lamesa

4.19

29.71

80.81

7.2%

Lubbock

4.06

29.56

80.62

3.2%

Source: USDA AMS Cotton Division