PCG Requests Clarification On Dryland Cotton Insurability Questions

Lubbock, May 27, 2011                       By Shawn Wade

            Ongoing drought conditions in 2011 have been wrecking the best-laid plans of both irrigated and dryland cotton producers in the Texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico production regions.

            Because of the extreme situation where many growers find themselves this year, a variety of questions have been raised regarding how these conditions will impact their risk management program and specifically, their ability to insure dryland cotton under the federal crop insurance program.

            While growing conditions are tough for everyone, dryland growers who utilize conservation tillage practices that incorporate small grain cover crops, like terminated wheat or rye, have a lot of questions and few, if any, definitive answers.

            In order to bring clarity to the situation, Lubbock-based Plains Cotton Growers, Inc. (PCG) has sent a letter to USDA Risk Management Agency Administrator William Murphy requesting that he reinforce the applicability of procedures included in the Upland Cotton Loss Adjustment Standards Handbook regarding small grain crops utilized in a conservation tillage system.

            Essentially PCG's request involves asking the Agency to remind Approved Insurance Providers (AIPs) that the Upland Cotton Loss Adjustment Handbook recognizes that in certain situations a moisture stressed small grain cover crop can be difficult to terminate and will sometimes produce a few heads even after appropriate efforts, applied in a manner that would terminate the crop before heading occurs under normal growing conditions, are undertaken.

            In these instances the Upland Cotton Loss Adjustment Standards Handbook instructs the insurance provider to consider the small grain crop to have not headed out if the grower is practicing a conservation tillage program and also attempted to terminate the small grain crop before heading using recommended practices.

            In situations other than a conservation tillage practice, RMA's Upland Cotton Special Provisions of insurance for counties in Texas, Oklahoma, and New Mexico has, since 2002, said that non-irrigated cotton is uninsurable following a small grain crop in the same calendar year if the small grain crop is: harvested or hayed; allowed to reach the headed stage (regardless of the percentage of small grain plants that reach the headed stage); or was grazed past March 15.

            Both growers and the federal crop insurance program have long recognized the benefits to conservation tillage practices in dryland production systems. In light of those benefits, PCG has encouraged the Agency to recognize the applicability of the procedures addressing small grain cover crops utilized in a conservation tillage practice and prevent growers from inadvertently being denied coverage on non-irrigated cotton acres in 2011.


Drought Slows High Plains Planting Progress

Lubbock, May 27, 2011                       By Mary Jane Buerkle

            Both planting and emergence of the 2011 cotton crop are a little slower than the past couple of years, sources say, but with rain in the forecast for the first part of next week, hope remains that this year's crop isn't down for the count just yet.

            Final planting dates are approaching quickly, forcing producers to begin planting in earnest no matter the moisture situation. Several area AgriLife Extension agents attended PCG's Friday morning advisory group meeting and reported on progress in their respective counties.

            Lubbock County is about 50 percent planted overall, and agent Mark Brown noted that although progress is behind from 2010, it is relatively on par with 2009 and 2008. Agent Kerry Siders reported that in Hockley and Cochran counties, about 70-75 percent of the irrigated crop is in the ground, but the dryland crop is only about 20 percent planted.

            Galen Chandler, AgriLife Extension's North Region program director for agricultural and natural services, said that north of Interstate 40, about 70 percent of the cotton crop is planted. Total acreage in that area, he said, is still a moving target. Agents in Floyd and Crosby counties reported 60 percent of irrigated acreage planted.

            Weather forecasts call for a chance of precipitation Sunday evening, Monday and Tuesday. Moisture is desperately needed not only by dryland producers to have any hope of production, but also by producers with irrigated acreage who are dealing with limited emergence at best.

            A map showing federal crop insurance final planting dates in Texas can be found at this link: http://www.rma.usda.gov/fields/ok_rso/2011/uplandcottonmap.pdf


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NRCS to Host Local Work Group Meetings

            The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Soil and Water Conservation Districts will host Local Work Group meetings in June. The purpose of the public meetings is to receive input from farmers, ranchers, local agencies, organizations, local agricultural leaders, businesses, and other individuals that have an interest in natural resource concerns.

            Upcoming area meetings are as follows:

            June 3 Plains, Plains Community Building, 1006 Avenue G, 8:30 a.m.

            June 6 Littlefield, Security State Bank, 501 Phelps Avenue, 10 a.m.

            June 7 Lamesa, USDA Service Center, 109 NE 14th Street, 9 a.m.

            June 7 Post, Wells Fargo Bank Meeting Room, 216 W. Main Street, 9 a.m.

            June 8 Bovina, Bovina EMS Building, 109 3rd Street, 9:30 a.m.

            June 8 Spur, USDA Service Center, 312 Williard Avenue, 7 p.m.

            June 9 Tahoka, Tahoka Housing Authority, 1400 Avenue K, 8:30 a.m.

            Later meetings will be listed in a future Cotton News. For more information, contact the local USDA-NRCS office in your county, listed under USDA in the Yellow Pages, or access the information on the Texas NRCS website at http://www.tx.nrcs.usda.gov.


Federal Farm Program Deadlines Approaching

            Below is a schedule of important FSA program deadlines to remember:

            May 31 2010 Crop Year Final Loan Availability Date for Corn, Soybeans, Grain Sorghum, Sunflowers, Rice, Cotton and Pulse Crops

            June 1 Deadline for 2011 Direct and Counter-Cyclical Program (DCP) Enrollment and for 2011 Average Crop Revenue Election (ACRE) Program Election

            July 29 2009 Supplemental Revenue Assistance (SURE) Program Signup Deadline

            August 1 Deadline to Request a 2011 Farm Reconstitution

            September 1 Deadline to file 2010 Production Reports for ACRE. This deadline was extended from the original deadline of July 15 for 2010 production only.

            For more information about FSA program and reporting deadlines, contact your local FSA office or visit the web at http://www.fsa.usda.gov/tx.


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