Obama Budget Continues Disappointing Trend
In Presidential Budgeting For Agriculture

Friday, February 27, 2009                          By Shawn Wade

      You would think that an agriculture industry that provides as much as 20 percent of the nation's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and underpins the safest and most abundant food supply in the world for its citizens would merit a higher level of consideration from the nation's highest office.

      Unfortunately that is not the case and President Barack Obama's first attempt at formulating a federal budget proposal once again targets agriculture, one of our nation's bedrock economic contributors, in a way that eerily mimics the narrow-minded view of agriculture worn thin by his predecessor.

      Fortunately, just like Bush Administration budgets that routinely sought to undermine the bipartisan 2002 Farm Bill, the Obama budget proposal appears to be receiving a cold reception from the Congressional leaders on both sides of the aisle.

      That is welcome news for producers says Plains Cotton Growers, Inc. Executive Vice President Steve Verett.

      Verett notes, "Agriculture will look to the bipartisan coalitions in Congress that did the hard work necessary to create a leaner, but still effective 2008 Farm Bill, to keep the current Presidential budget proposals from gaining traction."

      PCG's efforts to keep these concepts from moving forward will be centered on harnessing opposition to the proposals that is already being voiced by the men and women who will ultimately write the FY2010 Federal Budget plan and secure passage of the various appropriations bills that will establish funding levels.

      The good news for agriculture is that Congressional opposition to the proposals has been quick and unequivocal at the highest levels. The growing list of farm state Congressmen and Senators who oppose the Obama Administration's attempt to fundamentally alter the Farm Bill includes: Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND), Senate Budget Committee Chairman; Rep. Collin Peterson (D-MN), House Agriculture Committee Chairman; Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), Senate Agriculture Committee Ranking Member; Rep. Frank Lucas, House Agriculture Committee, Ranking Member; Sen. Blanche Lincoln, (D-AR); Sen. Charles Grassley, (R-IA); Rep. Mike Conaway (R-TX) and Rep. Randy Neugebauer (R-TX).

      The negative response is understandable since these Congressional leaders worked for two years to debate, compromise and pass a slimmed-down, bi-partisan 2008 Farm Bill barely 9 months ago.

      One of the first, and strongest, statements published after the President released his budget outline to Congressional leaders came from current House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson (D-MN) and sums up the "we gave at the office" position that agriculture groups say a majority in Congress should support.

      Said Peterson, "We just passed a fiscally responsible farm bill that made cuts to farm programs, so now is not the time to reopen it."


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Restructuring Farming Operations May Not
Require Establishment of New APH Yield

Friday, February 27, 2009                          By Shawn Wade

      One of the most confusing things a grower has to do is reconcile the rules governing their operation for Farm Service Agency delivered programs with the rules they have to abide by for participation in the Federal Crop Insurance program.

      A great example of how changes made to comply with one program can impact another, to the detriment of the farmer, is playing out right now as some growers attempt to restructure their operations to comply with the revised eligibility rules included in the 2008 Farm Bill.

      What some are finding out is that how an operation is restructured can adversely impact a grower's federal crop insurance yield history, unless care is taken to ensure the continuity of a farm's yield history.

      It is important to note that there are some instances where a grower who takes over a new farm, or significantly alters their operational structure could be forced to establish an entirely new Actual Production History (APH) yield on a farm.

      Fortunately, that is not usually the case since there are several available options for making operational changes that will allow an established yield to carry forward.

      Knowing that these options DO, in fact, exist is the key to preserving APH yield history on a farm. The best advice for any grower considering a significant change in their operation that involves shifting farms from one entity or operator to another is to consult with their crop insurance provider first.

      Even though many of the changes being contemplated right now are being driven by changes in farm program rules, making sure farmers don't inadvertently hurt themselves from a crop insurance perspective is simply not the type of information the county FSA office can provide.

      Taking time to visit with a crop insurance specialist will provide a better understanding of the mechanics of carrying an established APH yield forward. It will also provide a farmer/operator with the information they need regarding the kind of operational changes that trigger establishment of an all-new APH yield. Knowing the answers to these insurance-related questions before going to the local FSA office can save time and prevent headaches for growers, insurance providers and FSA personnel.



High Plains Meeting Calendar

Meeting dates and locations:

March 5, 2009Extension "Profitability Workshop", 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM, Texas AgriLife Research and Extension Center, Lubbock Located on 1294, ½ mile East of I-27 and North of the Lubbock Airport.

April 1 - Lower Rolling Plains Ag Conference, at the Scurry County Coliseum. Call the AgriLife Extension office in Scurry County at 325-573-5423 for more details.

April 1 – Cotton Economics Research Institute 9th annual Research/Outreach Symposium, at the Merket Alumni Center at Texas Tech University. For more information contact CERI at 806-742-2821.

April 1 - Cotton Price Risk Management and Pricing Strategies Seminar, at the Holiday Inn & Towers. Seminar sponsored by Cotton Incorporated in cooperation with Plains Cotton Growers, Inc. Space is limited so please register to reserve your seat by contacting Kay Wriedt at 919-678-2271 or kwriedt@cottoninc.com

April 2-3 – Texas Cotton Ginners' Association Trade Show and Convention, at the Lubbock Memorial Civic Center.

April 3 – Plains Cotton Growers, Inc. 52nd Annual Meeting, at the Lubbock Memorial Civic Center.


PCG's 2009 Seed Cost Calculator

      An updated version of the Plains Cotton Growers Seed Cost Calculator for 2009 is now available. Growers interested in comparing prices for their 2009 planting seed options can download the calculator at http://www.plainscotton.org.

      The 2009 version includes 112 conventional, Roundup Ready, Roundup Ready FLEX, Liberty Link, Bollgard and Bollgard II and Widestrike varieties, as well as numerous stacked gene versions of these technologies that will be available for sale in West Texas in 2009. Should information on additional varieties become available, an update to the spreadsheet will be developed and posted on PCG's website.

      The PCG calculator is an interactive Microsoft Excel spreadsheet that allows producers to calculate an estimated cost per acre, for both seed and technology, based on published suggested retail prices.