High Plains Cotton Acreage Up from 2010,

USDA Planting Survey Says

Lubbock, July 1, 2011                        by Mary Jane Buerkle   

      Anyone looking at the June 30 USDA Planted Acreage report with no knowledge of the current state of the High Plains/Texas cotton crop would think that a 28 percent statewide increase in acreage and some good weather would translate to some record-breaking yields later in the year.

      However, we all know this is certainly not the case as area producers face a near 100 percent abandonment rate on the dryland cotton crop, meaning that about half of the just over 4.2 million acres planted has failed due to extreme drought that kept planted seed essentially in dry storage underground. That 4.2 million acres planted is about a 14 percent increase from 2010, when 3.7 million acres of cotton were planted.

      Although the increase in acreage came as no surprise, the amount of the increase was a little more than many had originally thought. Experts attribute the increase to many factors, primarily the price of cotton.

      Adjusters have begun working claims in dryland fields in the PCG service area, as the 15-day window from the final planting date has come to pass across the region. Preliminary abandonment rate estimates will be released in August.

      "Right now, if we consider that pretty much our entire dryland crop will be abandoned, that means the High Plains economy could take a hit of around $1 billion, and that's a conservative estimate at this point," PCG's Executive Vice President Steve Verett said. "We could be looking at our highest overall abandonment rate since 1992, when it was 53 percent."

      With little forecasted chance for rain in the near future, producers with irrigated crops could be facing some tough decisions with regard to water and the ability to carry that crop to harvest as well. Some producers estimate that their crop can last another two weeks under current conditions. Each day without rain continues to become more and more costly. Producers in far South Texas received some rain this week, but it could not have come at a more inopportune time as they prepare for harvest.

      Statewide, USDA reports that 7.1 million acres of cotton were planted, a 28 percent increase from 2010 when Texas producers planted just over 5.5 million acres.

      The June Acreage report is based on producer surveys of actual planted acreage information. It is the market's first glimpse of how many acres have actually been planted to various crops during the current growing season and sets the stage for evaluating where the crop stands at this point. Up until now acreage discussions have been based on survey results designed to get a handle on producer intentions before they had actually put a seed in the ground.


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Southwest Council Of Agribusiness Announces

4th Annual Meeting Schedule

Lubbock, July 1, 2011                        by Mary Jane Buerkle   

      The Southwest Council of Agribusiness will host their 4th Annual Meeting on July 21 and 22 at the Overton Hotel & Conference Center in Lubbock. SWCA is a regional organization supported by agribusiness, financial institutions, and commodity groups from Texas, Oklahoma, and New Mexico.

      One of the highlights of the meeting will be the Annual Banquet, scheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday, July 21 in the Sunset Room at the Overton Hotel & Conference Center. Featured speaker will be Phillip Hayes with Farm Policy Facts/The Hand That Feeds U.S., and House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-OK) will bring the keynote address. Seating is limited, but tickets are still available. For pricing and more information, contact Jimmy Clark at (806) 790-6011 or (806) 853-8488, or email jimmyclark@southwest-council.com.

      The meeting will begin at 2:30 p.m. Thursday, July 21 with the SWCA Board meeting in Sunset Room C. Registration and a pre-banquet reception will begin at 6 p.m. in the foyer of the conference center, and the banquet begins at 7 p.m. in Sunset Rooms A and B. This is an excellent opportunity for networking among SWCA members and friends.

      Friday morning, July 22, begins with donuts and coffee at 8 a.m. and a Farm Bill Roundtable begins at 8:30 a.m., all in Sunset A at the Overton. Special guests as of this writing include The Honorable Frank Lucas; Dr. Art Barnaby, Kansas State University; Dr. Darren Hudson, Texas Tech University; Dr. Brad Lubben, University of Nebraska; and Dr. Joe Outlaw, Texas A&M University. This interactive roundtable discussion will give attendees a timely and relevant look at current and upcoming legislative issues, especially considering that a farm bill could be in the process of being penned as early as this fall.

      The meeting ends with a SWCA General Business Meeting and Board Elections from 11:30 a.m.-11:55 a.m., in the same room.


Texas NRCS Receives Funding for Panhandle,

South Plains Water Conservation Projects

      The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has announced additional funding in the Panhandle and South Plains regions to enhance natural resources on Texas agricultural working lands. Additional funds are now available through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) to address water conservation concerns through the Agricultural Water Enhancement Program (AWEP) and the Ogallala Aquifer Initiative.

      "AWEP and the Ogallala Aquifer Initiative are both voluntary programs and provide financial and technical assistance to farmers and ranchers to improve water conditions on their agricultural land," said Salvador Salinas, NRCS state conservationist for Texas. "With water supplies at an all time low, this is just one more way agriculture can help conserve its use."

      AWEP and the Ogallala Aquifer Initiative promote ground and surface water conservation by helping farmers and ranchers implement agricultural water enhancement activities. Projects address water quantity resource concerns in the 49 Panhandle and South Plains counties within the Aquifer area.

      Types of water enhancement activities include water quantity or water conservation plan development; irrigation system improvements and irrigation efficiency enhancements; water conservation restoration and activities designed to mitigate the effects of drought. All these activities are utilized to enhance water quantity or water conservation benefits on agricultural lands.

      Producers are encouraged to work with NRCS on conservation planning assistance to develop a conservation plan as a primary tool for long-term management of their natural resources.

      "Benefits of a conservation plan go a long way in helping producers protect and improve their land," said Jon Weddle, NRCS program manager in Lubbock. "The plan will help producers qualify for NRCS financial assistance to implement the conservation practices to make the changes on their farms or ranches. It will also serve as a planning tool, and can be modified as they change their objectives and goals throughout the years."

      EQIP is a continuous sign-up program. NRCS will be accepting applications through July 29, 2011 for current funding. NRCS implements the programs by entering into EQIP contracts directly with agricultural producers.

      Visit your local USDA Service Center and talk to the NRCS office staff about the details for AWEP and the Ogallala Aquifer Initiative, conservation planning, and other programs to help protect your farm. For more information about EQIP, go to www.tx.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/eqip and click on Texas 2011 EQIP information.


Students Receive Agriculture Scholarships

      Four students from the Plains Cotton Growers' service area were named one of 100 recipients of the Commitment to Agriculture Scholarship from Monsanto and the National Association of Farm Broadcasting in recognition of their academic achievements and leadership in agriculture.

      The students are Jayci Cave of Ackerly, Matt Clark of Ackerly, Taylor Kirk of Idalou and Ryan Neeley of Panhandle.

      The scholarships will help students pursue careers in agriculture so they can carry on the proud tradition of American farming. To see a complete list of 2011 Commitment to Ag Scholarship winners, please visit http://bit.ly/kyxQ0O.



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