High Plains Producers Facing Tough
Issues During Extended Drought

Lubbock, June 10, 2011                      By Mary Jane Buerkle

      The final planting date has come and gone for most of the PCG service area, and the lack of rain will soon force some producers to make some tough decisions.

      AgriLife Extension agents reporting at PCG's Advisory Group meeting today said that in general, about 80 percent of the irrigated crop has emerged, although it is suffering from the seemingly relentless hot wind and sand. Most of that cotton is in fair condition for now, they said. Those who have planted in a cover crop are seeing some benefit as their cotton is at least somewhat protected from the wind and sand.

      As for the dryland crop, it's still a waiting game. With no significant rainfall in sight, projections are that High Plains producers could abandon about two million acres, almost half of the total crop for this area. Experts note that a 100 percent abandonment rate for dryland cotton has never happened on the High Plains, but that this could be the year.

      What cotton has emerged looks to be behind in development and facing pressure from spider mites. In addition, if the area doesn't get some rainfall soon, irrigated producers will begin battling water availability issues which could put into jeopardy what crop they do have.

      In last week's Cotton News, PCG staffer Shawn Wade discussed how PCG is working with the Risk Management Agency to address insurance issues related to dryland cotton planted into a terminated small grain cover crop such as wheat under a conservation tillage practice. Drought conditions such as what the High Plains is experiencing make it difficult to terminate these small grain crops before heading, but the lack of complete termination could make the field uninsurable.  

      PCG has asked the RMA to clarify a number of issues regarding small grain crops and the insurability of non-irrigated cotton. PCG staff continues to work on these issues to provide relief for producers in what is already an extremely tough year.

      What could be the most disheartening of all, though, is that the drought will cause many producers to likely not be able to reap the benefits of some of the highest cotton prices in their lifetime. As one area producer put it, "This two-dollar cotton sure is a lot harder to raise than that 60-cent cotton."



Save the Date!

Southwest Council of Agribusiness

Annual Meeting – July 21-22, 2011

Overton Hotel & Conference Center, Lubbock

More information coming soon!


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High Plains Water District Releases Revised
Proposed Draft Amendments To District Rules
For Public Review/Comment

      A revised set of proposed draft amendments to the Rules of the High Plains Underground Water Conservation District No. 1 are now available for public review and comment prior to two public hearings set for June 27 in Dimmitt and Levelland.

      The first public hearing is scheduled from 9 to 11 a.m. at Dimmitt Middle School Auditorium, 1505 Western Circle. A second hearing will be held from 3-5 p.m. at the Levelland Middle School Auditorium, 1402 E. Ellis Street.

      The High Plains Water District is amending its rules to implement the "50/50" management goal in response to state statute requiring the setting of desired future conditions for the Ogallala Aquifer within the District's 16-county service area. The "50/50" Management Goal refers to a goal, adopted by the District Board of Directors, to have at least 50 percent of the groundwater in storage in the aquifer in 2010 available for use in 50 years (2060).

      In March, the District's Board of Directors held five public meetings to receive comments on the initially-proposed draft rules amendments. A grand total of 1,300-1,500 persons attended the meetings.

      "Several areas of concern about the initial proposed draft rule amendments were identified through oral and written comments. The District's Board of Directors was receptive to all comments and they believe the revised proposed rule amendments address those concerns. District residents are asked to look over this second set of proposed rule amendments and offer any comments they may have—either in person at the public hearings, by mail during the comment period, or both," said General Manager Jim Conkwright.

      The revised proposed draft rule amendments may be downloaded from the District web site at http://www.hpwd.com or a hard copy is available by contacting the District office at (806) 762-0181.

      Written comments regarding the revised proposed draft rule amendments should be sent to Jim Conkwright, High Plains Water District, 2930 Avenue Q, Lubbock, TX 79411-2499. All written comments must be received at the District office by 5 p.m. on July 11.

      Created in 1951 by local residents and the State Legislature, the High Plains Underground Water Conservation District No. 1 is charged with the responsibility of conserving, preserving, protecting, and preventing waste of groundwater within its 16-county service area.


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.

      Area meetings coming up this week are as follows:

      June 14 – Matador, USDA Service Center, 1103 Eubank, 8:15 a.m.

      June 14 – Morton, USDA Service Center, 200 W. Taylor, 8:30 a.m.

      June 14 – Wellington, Robertson Restaurant, U.S. Highway 83, 8:30 a.m.

      June 14 – Floydada, USDA Service Center, U.S. Highway 70 East, 9 a.m.

      June 14 – Spearman, USDA Service Center, 909 W. 9th St., 10 a.m.

      June 14 – Canyon, Randall Co. AgriLife Extension, 200 N. Brown Road, 10:30 a.m.

      June 14 – Dalhart, USDA Service Center, 200 W. Taylor, 3 p.m.

      June 14 – Jayton, Kent County Courthouse Basement, 101 N. Main, 5:30 p.m.

      June 15 – Lubbock, Red Zone Café, 3602 Slide Road, Unit B-1, 8 a.m.

      June 15 – Tahoka, Tahoka Housing Authority, 1400 Avenue K, 8:30 a.m.

      June 15 – Dumas, USDA Service Center, 801 S. Bliss, Suite 104, 9 a.m.

      June 15 – Tulia, Swisher County Annex Building, 310 W. Broadway, 10:30 a.m.

      June 15 – Ralls, Ralls Community Storm Shelter, 821 Tilford St., 6:30 p.m.

      June 16 – Panhandle, USDA Service Center, 221 Euclid St., 8 a.m.

      June 16 – Silverton, Happy State Bank Pioneer Room, 500 Main St., 9 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.



Farm Service Agency County Committee

Nomination Period Begins June 15

      Are you interested in serving on your Farm Service Agency County Committee, or know someone who is? The nomination period for these committees begins on Wednesday, June 15.

      To be eligible to serve on an FSA county committee, a person must participate or cooperate in a program administered by FSA, be eligible to vote in a county committee election and reside in the local administrative area in which the person is a candidate.

      Farmers and ranchers may nominate themselves or others, and organizations representing minorities and women also may nominate candidates. To become a candidate, an eligible individual must sign the nomination form, FSA-669A. The form and other information about FSA county committee elections are available online at http://www.fsa.usda.gov/elections. Nomination forms for the 2011 election must be postmarked or received in the local USDA Service Center by close of business on Aug. 1, 2011. Elections will take place this fall.
      While FSA county committees do not approve or deny loans, they make decisions on disaster and conservation programs, emergency programs, commodity price support loan programs and other agricultural issues. Members serve three-year terms. Nationwide, about 7,800 farmers and ranchers serve on FSA county committees. Committees consist of three to 11 members who are elected by eligible producers.
      FSA will mail ballots to eligible voters beginning Nov. 4. The voted ballots are due back to the local county office either via mail or in person by Dec. 5. Newly elected committee members and alternates take office on Jan. 2, 2012.


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