Friday, November 20, 2009                       By Shawn Wade

      Mississippi Senators Thad Cochran and Roger Wicker today joined with Senate Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Chairman Blanche L. Lincoln in introducing a bill that would provide "direct and timely disaster assistance" to farmers that have experienced 2009 crop losses.

      According to Lubbock-based Plains Cotton Growers (PCG), producers in disaster stricken areas, including Texas, appreciate the willingness of Senators to shed light on the immediate financial hardships facing farmers who have lost 2009 crops.

      Through the National Cotton Council, the cotton industry has joined other national commodity organizations representing producers, processors and related agri-businesses in expressing strong support for the prompt passage of legislation to provide funding for emergency disaster assistance.

      PCG notes that support among policymakers for at least some form of disaster assistance will take time to solidify and that there is a lot of work to be done to advance the cause. With a full plate of contentious issues to work on in the Senate, disaster assistance faces stiff competition for attention in Congress.

      With an estimated cost of approximately $2.1 Billion, the bill introduced today would provide assistance through additional Direct Payments to growers in counties declared "primary" disaster areas by the United States Department of Agriculture for 2009.

      In addition to the amounts needed for the additional direct payments, the measure also proposes $650 million to assist specialty crop producers impacted by natural disasters, via payment to states, and $42 million to aid first handlers of cottonseed.

      This proposal is similar to one unveiled in the Senate back in 2003. Ultimately, however, that Congress adopted the more traditional form of ad hoc disaster assistance instead.


Friday, November 20, 2009                       By Shawn Wade

      Another step was taken this week in the process through which Brazil will be allowed to impose World Trade Organization (WTO) approved retaliatory countermeasures resulting from its case against the GSM-102 export credit guarantee program and portions of the U.S. cotton program.

      Under the August 2009 WTO arbitration panel ruling, Brazil would be allowed to impose up to $147 million in countermeasures related to the U.S. cotton program as well as additional formula-based countermeasures related to the U.S. export credit guarantee program. The amount of countermeasures related to the GSM-102 program will vary yearly based on the results of the WTO-approved calculation.

      The U.S. has provided data to Brazil necessary to calculate the level of countermeasures allowable under the August ruling. Brazil has estimated countermeasures under the export credit guarantee portion of the WTO arbitration panel's ruling at approximately $650 million.

      It is estimated, using these figures, that Brazil will have the option to impose just more than $800 million in total countermeasures as a result of the arbitration panel ruling.

      The total amount of relief approved by the WTO arbitration panel in relation to Brazil's claims against the U.S. cotton program was well below the level sought by Brazil. Of significant importance, however, is the arbitration panel's determination in regard to the U.S. GSM-102 export guarantee program.

      Following the August ruling, the National Cotton Council and 34 other agricultural groups wrote to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative requesting that USTR exercise its right to seek a new WTO compliance panel for the purposes of updating the export guarantee portion of the arbitration panel ruling to account for the significant changes made in the GSM-102 program since 2005.

      The NCC has noted that the cotton industry will continue to work with USTR, USDA and Congress to ensure that the many changes previously made to the U.S. cotton program and the GSM-102 export credit guarantee program are fully understood and considered by the WTO moving forward.


Friday, November 20, 2009                       By Shawn Wade

      It is not too late to make plans to attend the 2010 Beltwide Cotton Conferences (BWCC) in New Orleans, LA. This year's Beltwide is shaping up to be one of the best as the Cotton Production Conference program nears completion and includes the latest information on topics ranging from nitrogen application to nematode control.

      The 2010 Beltwide Cotton Conferences, coordinated by the National Cotton Council, are set for January 4-7 at the New Orleans Marriott and Sheraton New Orleans hotels.

      Detailed program information as well as instructions for meeting registration and housing reservations is available from the BWCC website, Early (online) registration runs through December 7.

      The Beltwide Cotton Conferences bring together those with a stake in maintaining a healthy U.S. cotton production sector, including cotton industry members, university and USDA researchers, Extension personnel, consultants, and service providers, to share timely information.

      Conferences' programming is designed to update U.S. cotton producers on new technology, innovative and effective production practices, and key industry issues.

      The 2010 Cotton Production Conference's general session include presentations from innovative cotton farmers and leading research and Extension scientists. Discussion will cover a range of topics including the value of transgenics, emerging insect issues, current/future precision agriculture opportunities, and today's cropping decisions, including a look at rotation options and benefits. An "innovative grower panel" will provide a producer's perspective on the proven production practices they have adopted.

      Other presentations will include a review of the 2009 growing season, opportunities in conservation programs, a discussion of marketing challenges, an economic outlook and updates on industry issues from the NCC and on key research efforts from The Cotton Foundation and Cotton Incorporated.

      The schedule will also include the following Production Conference sessions/workshops: 1) a report on collaborative research from across the Cotton Belt concerning site-specific management of nematodes; 2) discussion of geographical sampling concepts and techniques for cotton pest management for precision agriculture uses; 3) variable rate nitrogen applications using on-the-go optical sensors; 4) effective and efficient irrigation for cotton production; 5) roundtable discussions on variety selection, insects, weed resistance and conservation programs, 6) an introduction to options, and 7) an economic outlook. Other sessions include a cotton specialist's workshop and the annual New Developments From Industry reports on varieties, chemistry and equipment/technology.

      In addition, the third annual Cotton Consultants' Conference will include educational presentations by Extension and University experts on: 1) spring burndown herbicides and their impact on diseases, insects and weeds; 2) updates on cotton diseases and insect pests, including new products available to combat them; 3) a panel discussion on the value of transgenics and the impact on consultants, and 4) keynote speaker J.R. Bradley's humorous and informative look back on his experiences and a discussion of consultants' role in helping farmers deal with the challenges and issues that production agriculture faces now and in the future.



Friday, November 20, 2009                       By Shawn Wade

      The agenda is set and growers from across the High Plains should think about attending the High Plains Ag Conference, December 2, at the Texas AgriLife Research & Extension Center, 1102 E. FM 1294, in Lubbock.

      Individual pre-registrations received by November 30 are $35 and include lunch. Late registrations are $45 with no lunch guarantee. Contact Robert Scott at 806-775-1680 or by email at for more information or to pre-register. Checks should be made payable to: Lubbock Ag Committee

      This year's program will provide a comprehensive overview of agriculture issues. Morning presentations will include information regarding internal and external parasite control in cattle, alternative crop updates, diagnosis and management of fungal diseases in crops, and weed management in expiring CRP adjacent to sensitive row-crops.

      The afternoon session will include an update on pesticide laws and regulations, recommendations for establishing native and improved grasses, and conclude with a presentation to assist in identification and control of oak wilt. During the lunch hour Lubbock County AgriLife Extension personnel will report on 2010 extension programs.

      Scheduled speakers include: Dr. Ted McCollum, Professor, Extension Beef Cattle Specialist; Dr. Calvin Trostle, Associate Professor, Extension Agronomy; Dr. Jason E. Woodward, Assistant Professor and Extension Plant Pathologist, Dept. of Plant Pathology & Microbiology; J. F. Cadenhead III, Assistant Professor and Extension Range & Brush Control Specialist; Mark Brown CEA- Lubbock Co. ; Robert Scott CEA- Lubbock Co.; Brant Baugh IPM- Lubbock Co.; Dr. Don Renchie, Extension Program Leader for Agricultural & Environmental Safety, Assistant Professor and Extension Specialist; Randy Underwood, Resource Team Leader--Lubbock, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service; Jonathan Motsinger, Staff Forester, Texas Forest Service.