New Loan Program Changes DO NOT Apply
To Cotton; ACRE Sign-up Begins April 27

Friday, April 10, 2009                                By Shawn Wade

      For the U.S. cotton industry this week's announcement that USDA was modifying some Market Loan and Loan Deficiency Payment rules created a moment of concern. Fortunately USDA quickly laid those concerns to rest with an explanation that the rules announced this week are generally applicable to grains and oilseed crops and DO NOT effect cotton.

      USDA noted that the Cotton Market Assistance Loan and Loan Deficiency Payment rules were actually the first 2008 Farm Bill rules published by USDA in November 2008 and are unaffected by this week's announcement.

      In their clarification, USDA specifically says that there will be no changes in the use of premiums and discounts at the time of cotton loan making, and there are also no changes to the Cotton Storage Agreement between the Commodity Credit Corp. and cotton warehouses.

      USDA noted that the grain and oilseed loan provisions were delayed by the Obama Administration's policy to review all new regulations, including those that were initiated by the previous Administration, before they were published.

      For grain and oilseed producers this week's announcement will have an impact on the way the USDA calculates and settles 2009-crop MAL and LDP payments.

      Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced the new rules, which will apply to 2009-crop MAL and LDP payments for wheat, rice, feed grains, soybeans, other oilseeds, pulse crops, honey, wool and mohair, on April 7, 2009. In addition to having no impact on cotton loan provisions, the announced changes will not apply to peanuts.

      Vilsack explained that as part of USDA's efforts to streamline the loan process, the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) will no longer adjust loan rates on warehouse-stored loans for wheat, rice, feed grains, soybeans, other oilseeds, pulse crops, honey, wool and mohair by premiums and discounts at loan making time. Loan rates will be adjusted by premiums and discounts only at loan settlement, if the commodity is either farm-stored delivered or warehouse-stored forfeited.

      Vilsack also announced that for the aforementioned commodities (excluding cotton and peanuts) CCC has decided it will no longer require the execution of a storage agreement in storage facilities that are either (a) federally-licensed or (b) in compliance with applicable state laws and issue warehouse receipts. CCC still reserves the right to execute a storage agreement in either (a) or (b) if deemed necessary by the Secretary.

      CCC may also, on a case-by-case basis, require a storage agreement for storage facilities that are neither (a) nor (b). This modification in the regulation is expected to benefit warehouse operators and producers by eliminating redundant costs without increasing financial risk for CCC.


ACRE Program Sign-Up To Begin April 27

      Also announced this week was the April 27, 2009 starting date for producers to elect and enroll in the Average Crop Revenue Election (ACRE) program. ACRE is a provision of the 2008 Farm Bill.

      Producers will have until August 14, 2009, to make their decision for the 2009 crop. USDA will not accept any late-filed applications.

      Producers who elect the ACRE program for a farm agree to:

(1) forgo counter-cyclical payments; (2) accept a 20-percent reduction of their direct payments; and (3) accept a 30-percent reduction in loan rates for all commodities produced on the farm.

      Commodities eligible for ACRE payments are wheat, corn, grain sorghum, barley, oats, upland cotton, long grain rice, medium and short grain rice, peanuts, soybeans, sunflower seed, canola, flaxseed, safflower, mustard seed, rapeseed, sesame seed, crambe, dry peas, lentils, small chickpeas and large chickpeas.

      The ACRE program was created in the 2008 Farm Bill to give producers an option in lieu of traditional counter-cyclical payments. Producers may elect and enroll in ACRE for the 2009 crop year even if they have already accepted advance direct payments under the Direct and Counter-cyclical Program.

      To elect ACRE for a farm, producers must complete Form CCC-509 ACRE, which IRREVOCABLY elects ACRE for the farm through crop year 2012. Form CCC-509, the contract to participate in ACRE, must then be completed each year the producer intends to participate and receive benefits.

      For more information about the Market Assistance Loan Program, Loan Deficiency Payments or the ACRE program please visit your local Farm Service Agency (FSA) county office or visit


TIEHH Facility To Boost Applied Research
Effort In Nonwoven Textile Products

Friday, April 10, 2009                                By Shawn Wade

      Plains Cotton Growers President Barry Evans says the opening of a new 4,000 square foot non-woven textile laboratory at the Texas Tech University Institute for Environmental and Human Health (TIEHH) is a big step forward in the development of new markets and innovative products for cotton.

      The new facility, named the Nonwovens and Advanced Materials Laboratory, was unveiled April 6. The new lab's air conditioning and humidification system, contoured needlezone needlepunching technology and thermal bonding capability will allow for faster, more focused research into nonwoven technologies.

      Funding for the lab's $1.5 million cost included $125,000 from Lubbock Economic Development Alliance and nearly $1 million from the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) for the machinery. Overall, nonwoven research at Texas Tech has received $2.5 million in DoD funding.

      According to TIEHH director Dr. Ron Kendall, Texas Tech is the only academic facility in the U.S. to have contoured needlezone nonwoven technology. Combined with the region's cotton production base, the new lab is perfectly placed to conduct additional research that can be developed into new applications for non-woven products containing cotton.

      For PCG President Barry Evans the lab is another example of how producer investments in research can play a big role in the development of new markets for cotton, but also new products that can use a wide variety of qualities of cotton.

      Evans said that one of the things that impressed him the most about the new TIEHH lab was the fact that among the different types of cotton products being developed and available for viewing were nonwoven cotton fabrics that were produced from low micronaire cotton as well as cotton that had received no additional processing after ginning.

      Evans also noted that cotton producers should be especially proud of the work being done at the TIEHH lab because they are an integral part of supporting the research being performed.

      Evans adds that often the impact of a producer's research and promotion investment is hard to visualize because the work they support is conducted elsewhere. "The TIEHH research and the new laboratory are good examples of what cotton producers are accomplishing at a location that is just down the road from their farm."

      "Every farmer has a hand in the success we have seen today because part of the money that supports the research being performed here comes directly from producers. The pay-off will come in the form of new products and increased demand for cotton to create," concludes Evans.

      Ramkumar added that current research in natural fibers has been supported by the Food and Fibers Research Grant program of the Texas Department of Agriculture, Texas State Support Program of Cotton Incorporated, The Cotton Foundation, The CH Foundation of Lubbock, Plains Cotton Growers Inc. and the USDA through the International Cotton Research Center at Texas Tech.

      TIEHH researcher Dr. Seshadri Ramkumar says that one of the main focuses of the new lab will be to develop new products from cotton and wool, such as thermal and acoustic insulation pads, and automotive and defense textiles.

      "Our aim is to find value-added applications for products made of cotton grown on the High Plains," says Ramkumar. "Surely, this nonwoven laboratory will help."

      Prior to the lab's creation Dr. Ramkumar, with support from provided by the U.S. Department of Defense, private industry and the cotton industry, has already successfully worked to create a nonwoven decontamination wipe called Fibertect™.

      Fibertect™ is a platform technology, and different fibers, including natural fibers such as cotton, can be used depending on applications and requirements, Ramkumar said.

      In December, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory performed an evaluation of several decontamination products including Fibertect™. The wipe tested features an activated carbon core sandwiched between an absorbent polyester layer on one side and absorbent cellulose on the other. After testing with mustard gas and other toxic chemicals, the results showed that the Texas Tech-created dry fabric out-performed 30 different decontamination products, including materials currently used in military decontamination kits.

      Ramkumar added that current research in natural fibers has been supported by the Food and Fibers Research Grant program of the Texas Department of Agriculture, Texas State Support Program of Cotton Incorporated, The Cotton Foundation, The CH Foundation of Lubbock, Plains Cotton Growers Inc. and the USDA through the International Cotton Research Center at Texas Tech.

      The Institute of Environmental and Human Health develops environmental and health sciences research and education at Texas Tech and Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center.

      The institute's goal is to position Texas Tech as an internationally recognized force in the integration of environmental impact assessment of toxic chemicals with human health consequences, framed in the context of science-based risk assessment to support sound environmental policy and law.



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