SWCA Hires New Executive Director;
Announces Agenda For 2nd Annual Meeting – July 20

Tuesday, July 10, 2009                                  

      The Southwest Council of Agribusiness (SWCA) has announced the hiring of Jimmy Clark as the organization's new Executive Director. Clark will oversee the organizations day-to-day activities effective July 9.

      Clark's primary responsibilities will be in membership development and communication for SWCA. He has knowledge, skills and connections that, when coupled with his experience in the policy arena, the SWCA Board of Directors is confident will bear significant fruit for the organization and for the member interests represented.

      Jimmy Clark has become well known during his years of service as District Director for the 19th Congressional District, beginning in 1985 for Congressman Combest, and then with Congressman Neugebauer until Jimmy's retirement from government service last month.

      Clark is passionate about agriculture and business interests. In addition to his years of public service he is a farmer with deep roots in the Acuff community, just east of Lubbock.

      Jimmy Clark can be contacted by email at jimmyclark@southwest-council.com or by phone at 806-790-6011 (mobile) or 806-792-4904 (office).

SWCA Announces Agenda for 2nd Annual Meeting – July 20

      The Southwest Council of Agribusiness (SWCA) will hold its second annual meeting July 20, 2009 at the Banquet Hall of the Lubbock Memorial Civic Center, 1501 Mac Davis Lane in Lubbock, Texas.

      Registration opens at 8:15 a.m. and the program will begin promptly at 9:00 a.m. The meeting will conclude with a luncheon honoring our nation's agricultural producers.

      Holders of private pesticide applicator licenses will also get the extra benefit of earning two (2) general CEU credits by attending the SWCA annual meeting.

      The SWCA annual meeting will give attendees an opportunity to hear more about the work of SWCA from a lineup of great speakers, including keynote addresses from Congressman Frank Lucas, ranking member of the U.S. House Committee on Agriculture, and Jim Miller, USDA Under Secretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services.

      The program will begin with Congressman Lucas' analysis on the current political environment and legislative threats and/or opportunities for agriculture in this time between farm bills. Under Secretary Miller will conclude the program with a luncheon address covering implementation issues relative to the 2008 farm bill, the agricultural trade agenda, as well as challenges and opportunities for the agricultural sector.

      Sandwiched between these two great speakers will be panel discussions of the controversial cap and trade legislation working its way through Congress and the outlook for the agricultural economy.

      To address the cap and trade issue SWCA is pleased to welcome special guest Ben Lieberman, senior policy analyst for energy and environment with the Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C. Lieberman will address the proposed cap and trade policy and what it might mean for producers and businesses in the region during the panel discussion.

      Joining him on the panel are Dr. Michael Farmer, Texas Tech University associate professor of agricultural economics and Scott Graves, legislative director for Congressman Mike Conaway, who will also cover major factors influencing climate change and cap and trade legislation.

      A second issues panel comprised of Dr. Darren Hudson, professor and Larry Combest Chair for Agricultural Competiveness at Texas Tech University, Dr. Joe Outlaw, co-director of the Texas A&M Ag and Food Policy Center, and Dr. C. Parr Rosson, professor and director of the Center for North American Studies at Texas A&M, will address forces impacting the outlook for the agricultural economy.

      The SWCA was formed just two years ago as an alliance of business interests who recognize the value of stable and strong farm policy to our region's economy. SWCA membership now includes more than 75 businesses and organizations from across the region, including most of the state's major commodity groups. Any and all with an interest in supporting agriculture are welcome to attend.


USDA To Help Landowners with Expiring CRP
Land Evaluate Post-CRP Conservation Options

Friday, July 10, 2009                                

      Area farmers are facing some big decisions on what to do with their land as hundreds of thousands of acres of USDA Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) contracts are due to expire in the next few months.

      USDA personnel from the Farm Service agency and the Natural Resources Conservation Service are in the latest stages of finalizing guidance and options for producers with expiring conservation reserve program (CRP) acres.

      On July 8, 2009, personnel from both agencies in the Panhandle and South Plains regions met in Lubbock to discuss how to best serve farmers and ranchers for CRP land expiring from the program.

      "With so many landowners coming into our offices seeking help, uniform guidance among agencies is critical for landowners and producers to make the best decisions for land that's coming out of the program," said Mickey Black, NRCS assistant state conservationist for field operations in Lubbock.

      The bulk of the CRP acres are in the High Plains region of the state where there is significant concern about the future of the conservation on the land. According to FSA records, over 78,000 acres expired in 2008, with an additional 680,000 to be expired in October of 2009, and over 507,000 acres in October of 2010.

      FSA State Executive Director Juan Garcia addressed 150 FSA and NRCS employees in the region saying, "Many producers are going to be faced with changes, and it's up to all of us to educate the general public and provide landowners with the options available to help them.

      "This is a serious issue," said Garcia. "The NRCS and FSA offices are making a joint effort for a successful outcome."

      According to Garcia, FSA will be able to restore crop acreage bases beginning in October, 2010. Landowners need to be aware of this information because it will be a determining factor as they decide what they will do once their land expires from the program.

      Black said, "Landowners have several options, including grazing or haying the existing grass cover, making enhancements to target wildlife, putting it back into production, or utilizing it for recreational purposes."

      For long-term planning, producers will need to stay informed of the latest policies for farm programs and benefits that might affect them and their operations.

      "We expect to see some producers choose to return their CRP fields back to annually-tilled cropland production," said Don Gohmert, NRCS State Conservationist.

      "Most of the acres in the CRP program are classified as Highly Erodible Land (HEL)," said Gohmert. "This type of land is very susceptible to wind and water erosion."

      NRCS and FSA will encourage producers to keep the permanent grass cover, however, in cases where the landowners' decide to plow up the grass; the NRCS will provide alternatives to help landowners understand the need to meet certain measures that ensure those acres will not erode beyond a level that the soil can tolerate. These alternatives will help the producer apply best management practices to meet conservation compliance requirements.

      Conservation compliance, which began with the 1985 Farm Bill, is still in effect. Compliance means that farmers need to control erosion on highly erodible land, which includes CRP acres, in order to stay eligible for USDA program benefits, including farm loan programs, disaster assistance, commodity price supports, and conservation programs.

      According to NRCS, the most common ways farmers get out of compliance with USDA is by eliminating soil-conserving crops, such as forage species, and adding a tilled crop.

When the farmer changes his soil cover from permanent grass to annually-tilled crops, he/she should always consider conservation compliance when planning their rotations, in addition to commodity prices

      Conservation compliance could entail the implementation of a crop rotation that includes high residue-producing crops like wheat or sorghum, or the installation, repair and maintenance of structural practices like terraces.

      FSA and the NRCS, working with the local Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCD), urges producers to contact someone at the local USDA service centers to discuss expiring CRP options and to check on eligibility for USDA benefits.

      For more information, call the USDA Service Center in your county, listed under USDA in the Yellow Pages, or access the information on the Texas NRCS website at www.tx.nrcs.usda.gov.


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Domestic Cottonseed Oil Consumption
Expected To Increase Nearly 25 Percent

Friday, July 10, 2009                                 By Shawn Wade

      U.S. production and consumption of cottonseed oil are expected to significantly increase this year, despite fewer cotton acres and a lower supply of cottonseed, says a spokesperson from the cottonseed crushing industry. Cottonseed oil is a versatile, trans-free salad and frying oil for the restaurant and snack food manufacturing industries.

      "Crushers are expected to produce 845 million pounds of oil in 2009-10, up from 730 million pounds in 2008-09 according to USDA analysts," says Ben Morgan, executive director of the National Cottonseed Products Association (NCPA), Cordova, Tenn. "Additionally, domestic consumption is expected to reach 700 million pounds, a 25 percent increase from one year ago."

      For the second year in a row, more available cottonseed will be crushed for oil than fed to dairy cows as whole seed, upsetting a more than decade-long trend favoring cows, he adds.

      "Cottonseed oil now comprises the largest portion of the total return from cottonseed to growers," Morgan says. "Strong demand from the food industry sector has undeniably increased the value of cottonseed."

      Morgan further explains the shifting demand curve for cottonseed: "There is a certain maximum amount of dollars that can be made from either selling whole cottonseed and/or crushing cottonseed for its products. In a free market, that level is determined by supply and demand. In previous years, more profit could be made by selling a larger share of cottonseed as whole seed. However, current USDA estimates indicate more dollars can be made from crushing seed."

      Once viewed as a leftover of the cotton ginning process, cottonseed processing is increasingly being viewed as a viable revenue source over and above cotton fiber production, he adds.

      "If the price of cottonseed oil can improve by one penny per pound, the added value to the cottonseed crop would exceed $24 million in an average year," Morgan says.

      NCPA is the national trade association for the cottonseed processing industry. In addition to the U.S. cottonseed crushing industry, association membership includes refiners, who process cottonseed oil into semi-finished and finished products, dealers and brokers who market cottonseed products, and other firms that provide goods and services to the industry. For more information, visit www.cottonseed.com and www.cottonseedoiltour.com.