CONGRESSAPPROVES 2-WEEK EXTENSION;
CONFEREES MAKE STRIDES TOWARD FINAL BILL

Friday, May 2,2008                                  By Shawn Wade

      Congress and the White House havereached another agreement on the Farm Bill. Unfortunately, it’s still not theone everyone would like to see announced.

      What the two sides haveagreed on, however, is a fifth funding extension of the 2002 farm bill to, onceagain, give Congress time to put the finishing touches on a new farm billconference report. The latest move is a two-week extension that will runthrough May 16.

      Publicly farm bill progressappears slow as the two sides still remain at an impasse over the specifics of whatwill ultimately become the 2008 Farm Bill. Whether or not they will actuallyveto the final product is still a matter of speculation, fueled by White Housecomments suggesting President Bush will veto just about anything Congress islikely to produce.

      A marathon six-hourConference Committee meeting that started May 1 and ended early May 2 broughtsome good news for High Plains cotton producers and others that want to see thecompletion of a 2008 farm bill blending the House and Senate offerings. Thenext meeting is expected to take place May 6.

      Fortunately for growers thatwant to see the bill finished, appeasing the White House on every “veto-able”point of disagreement they voice doesn’t seem to be at the top of the ConferenceCommittee’s priority list any more.

      It is also doubtful that theAdministration, which has failed to find very much good in the ConferenceCommittee’s efforts to date, would view the outcome of the Committee’s May 1meeting as progress.

      It should be noted that areal hold-up for conferees has been an earnest effort to find middle groundwith the Administration. Coupled with the challenge of finding budget off-setsagreeable to the House, the Senate and the White House, the effort to get theAdministration on board has been major contributing factor in the delaysexperienced to date.

      Thursday’s meeting proved tobe one of the most productive sessions the Committee had yet completed andfollowed several days of behind the scenes work by staff and key House andSenate farm bill conferees. The end result is that the Committee was able towork through all of the Farm Bill Titles that had not yet been considered bythe full Conference Committee.

      Several titles were agreed tocompletely, while a few were agreed to with the exception of a handful ofissues. Most of these pending issues were set-aside for the committee tocomplete after revised CBO scoring is obtained. Others will take a bit morework and face-to-face debate by the full committee.

      Among the major issues thatremain unresolved are final revisions to payment limit and program eligibilityprovisions. Leaders and staff are still discussing these two items in order toreach an agreement among themselves and, hopefully, strike a deal that theAdministration will sign off on as well.

      More important to agriculturethan Administration approval at this time is crafting a final farm bill packagethat can provide a veto-proof majority in the Senate and the House when thefinal bill is brought to Congress for a vote.

      A few of the highlights fromthe work completed by the Conference Committee Thursday night include:

Commodities Title - The bill includes a newly named Producer IncomeProtection title that continues basic features of the 2002 bill, which farmershave thought worked well, and it gives producers a new option, beginning withthe 2010 crop year, to choose to participate in a state-level revenueprotection system.

      The Average Crop Revenueprogram, modeled after legislation proposed by farmers and introduced bySenators Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, offers producersbetter options for managing risk of both yield and price declines on theirfarms.

Conservation Title - The new CSP, renamed the Conservation Stewardship Programprovides incentives for adopting, improving and maintaining sound conservationpractices on land in agricultural production. Harkin said the program wouldenroll just under 13 million acres each year (starting in 2009) through 2017,for a total of nearly 115 million acres. An additional $1.1 billion wasprovided for CSP for a total of $12 billion over 10 years.

      This title shifts the focusin conservation strongly in the direction of working land conservation. Fundingthat would not have been used in land retirement programs was redirected toprograms that focus on reducing the environmental impact of agriculturalproduction, like the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and CSP.

Energy Title - Increases Biofuels Production:The farm bill will accelerate commercialization of advanced biofuels, likecellulosic ethanol, by helping farmers produce biomass crops, by providinggrants and loan guarantees to support these new biorefineries, and by increasingbioenergy research to guarantee that we have a continuing flow of moreproductive and resource-conservative technologies in the decades to come.

PLANTINGTIME: SOIL TEMPERATURE AND HEAT
UNIT DATA AVAILABLE THROUGH PCG WEBSITE

Friday, May 2,2008                                  By Shawn Wade

      Farmers in West Texas neverstop looking at the weather. With the First of May now come and gone, plantingseason is here and High Plains farmers are busy putting the final touches onplans for their 2008 crops.

      Depending on the crop mix,some producers have had planters running for a few weeks while others arewaiting for the right conditions to start. Although some have gotten started inrecent days, most cotton producers haven’t quite seen weather and soilconditions get to a level where the majority of growers are willing to startplanting.

      As Spring temperatures gain astronger hold in the area, cotton planting should rapidly increase over thenext two weeks with the area expected to be fully engaged by the middle of May.

      Practically every element ofa growers planting plan is dependent on the weather, either getting the openweather and warm soil temperatures needed to ensure proper germination of earlyplanted irrigated cotton acres, or getting the rainfall needed to plantnon-irrigated cotton acres that are currently facing a significant moisturedeficit in many areas.

WWW.PLAINSCOTTON.ORG Has Weather Info

      Either way, the informationgrowers need to keep track of current weather conditions and forecasts canquickly be accessed from one convenient location – the Plains CottonGrowers website. Just click the “Weather” link on the PCG Home page (www.plainscotton.org) and you are instantly transportedto PCG’s Weather Page.

      There you will find 3- and7-day forecast data, current conditions and a bevy of links on the left-handside of the page through which growers can access data from the NationalWeather Service (NWS) in both Amarillo and Lubbock as well as Texas TechMesonet.

Soil Temperature and Heat Unit Info

      Of primary concern toproducers this time of year are soil temperatures and Heat Units. Growers canuse the following direct link to the PCG website to get Lubbock NWS soiltemperature information excerpted from the daily NWS weather summary: http://www.plainscotton.org/weatherdata/index.php

      The best available source ofHeat Unit data can be accessed through the PCG Home Page by clicking the“Deltapine Weather” link. Once there, just follow the instructions to create acomprehensive custom weather report containing cumulative weather data from aplanting date you specify.

      To view or download theweather data select the weather station closest to your field, enter the datethat the cotton crop was planted. The report is automatically generated showingdaily and accumulated precipitation information, maximum and minimumtemperatures, wind speed and direction, crop water use, and many other criticalcrop management weather measurements.

      The D&PL calculator willalso calculate daily and cumulative Heat Units ((DD-60) from the date enteredand provides an easy way to keep track of Heat Unit accumulations during thegrowing season. Heat Unit calculations are made using West Texas Mesonet dataprovided courtesy of the Texas Tech University College of Engineering.

      With 50 weather stationsavailable across the High and Rolling Plains, growers or consultants can easilyaccess locally relevant weather information to help manage their cotton crop.

 

Want the facts about the U.S. farmpolicy. Get what you need at:

www.farmpolicyfacts.com

 

MARCHCOTTON MARKETING FIGURES SHOW BIG
DECREASE; ESTIMATED CC PAYMENT SLIPPING

Friday, May 2,2008                                  By Shawn Wade

      CumulativeUpland cotton marketings for the first eight months of the 2007-marketing yeartotaled 9.803 million-bales according to information released April 30 by theUSDA National Agricultural Statistics Service.

      That figure is898,000 bales behind the amount marketed through the same period last year asUSDA estimated March 2008 marketings at 488,000 bales with an average sellingprice of 60.5 cents per pound.

      So far the 2007Upland Cotton Weighted Average Price calculated through March 2008 stands at56.37 cents per pound.

      Withthree-quarters of the marketing year now past, the calculated 2007 WeightedAverage Price is 4.37 cents above the 52-cent threshold where the Upland cottonCounter-cyclical payment begins to drop below the 13.73 cent maximum paymentrate. The preliminary mid-month price reported for April 2008 was60 cents per pound.

      The followingtable shows the average price received each month by farmers and the associatedweighted average price based on prices and cumulative marketings from August 1,2007 through March 31, 2008.

     The 2007 Counter-cyclical payment rate authorized under the 2002 Farm Bill willbe based on the 12-month Weighted Average Price Received by growers. For cottonthe 12-month Weighted Average Price will reflect price and marketings for the2007 marketing year. The 2007 cotton marketing year began August 1, 2007 andends July 31, 2008.

UplandCotton Average Price Received by
Growers Through March2008

(Weighted by Marketings)

 

Marketings

Prices

 

(000's of Running bales)

(cents/Lb.)

 

Monthly

Cum.

Monthly

Weighted

August

1,762

1,762

44.90

44.90

September

373

2,135

52.00

46.14

October

949

3,084

55.20

48.93

November

1,464

4,548

57.00

51.53

December

1,529

6,077

59.20

53.46

January

1,839

7,916

60.70

55.14

February

1.339

9,315

61.90

56.16

March

488

9,803

60.50

56.37

April

n/a

n/a

60.00*

n/a

Source:National Agricultural Statistics Service; * = preliminary