FSA Approves Planting Pattern
Exception Following PCG Request

Lubbock, July 15, 2011                         by Shawn Wade

      On Thursday, July 14, the USDA Farm Service Agency notified Lubbock-based Plains Cotton Growers that the organization's request for an exception to maximum row width criteria for crop planting patterns on irrigated cotton had been approved. As a result of that action, irrigated cotton producers utilizing a "30/50" planting pattern will be allowed to certify their cotton as solid planted when utilizing alternate furrow irrigation practice with subsurface drip or center pivot systems.

      In addressing the "30/50" pattern, which shifts each planted cotton row 5 inches closer to the water delivery point of alternate row irrigation systems, PCG noted that growers utilizing the pattern were still farming the same number of rows of cotton and planting the same number of plants per land acre as they would under a traditional 40-inch solid planting pattern.

      Prior to the granting of the exception for the "30/50" planting pattern, Farm Service Agency rules would have allowed only 75 percent of the farm's total acreage to be considered planted due to the unwatered furrow exceeding the maximum allowed 40-inch row width.

      After the announcement, PCG officials expressed their appreciation to Acting Deputy Administrator Juan Garcia and the USDA staff in Washington, DC, for their efforts to address this issue and recognize the practice as a solid plant cropping pattern where growers are utilizing an alternate furrow irrigation practice with subsurface drip or center pivot systems.

      Producers should contact their local Farm Service Agency Service Center to clarify which irrigation practices qualify a "30/50" pattern as solid planted under this exception.


PCG Board of Directors Meets, Approves

FY2011-2012 Operating Budget

Lubbock, July 15, 2011                     by Mary Jane Buerkle

      What a difference a year makes.

      At the PCG Board of Directors meeting in July 2010, producers reported good moisture, few acreage losses, and hope for excellent yields in what looked to be a promising year.

      Fast-forward 52 weeks for a completely different story, when board members met on Wednesday, July 13, for the group's first quarterly meeting of the 2011-2012 fiscal year.

      Although a few inches of rain fell on some producers' fields this week, most reports included record abandonment on dryland cotton, below-average moisture, and irrigated cotton struggling to survive under difficult watering conditions. Although it's certainly not too late to write off this year's irrigated cotton crop, moisture is desperately needed to give already stressed wells at least somewhat of a rest.



      Lubbock Cotton Exchange President Arwin Johnson with Queensland Cotton reported on the cotton market and contracting issues; Craig Brown, vice president of producer affairs for the National Cotton Council, updated the board on NCC activities; and Jim Conkwright, manager of the High Plains Underground Water Conservation District No. 1, discussed revised proposed draft rule amendments for HPWD (available at http://www.hpwd.com). PCG staff reported on activities within the organization.

      The board also considered and approved the FY2011-2012 operating budget for the organization, totaling $856,814.30. This budget maintains support for the PCG's ongoing legislative, regulatory and cotton research programs, and renewed support for the Southwest Council of Agribusiness.


Southwest Council Of Agribusiness

Annual Meeting is July 21-22

Lubbock, July 15, 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.


USDA Deadline to Apply for SURE Crop

Disaster Benefits is July 29

      USDA Texas Farm Service Agency Executive Director Juan M. Garcia announced that the deadline to apply for assistance for 2009 crop losses under the Supplemental Revenue Assistance Payments (SURE) program is July 29, 2011.

      "The SURE program compensates producers for production and/or quality losses during times of disaster," said Garcia. "All producers who have experienced crop production and/or crop quality losses must apply for SURE program benefits by the July 29th deadline."

      To meet program eligibility requirements, the farming operation must be physically located in a county that was declared a primary or contiguous disaster county by the Secretary of Agriculture under a 2009 Secretarial Disaster Designation.

      Producers located in designated disaster counties must have suffered at least a 10 percent loss on a crop of economic significance and purchased crop insurance through the Federal Crop Insurance Act or the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP).

      However, an operation located in a county that did not receive a primary or contiguous disaster designation, can still qualify for SURE benefits if the actual farm production was less than 50 percent of the normal production on the farm due to a qualifying disaster event.

      Producers and legal entities collectively cannot, directly or indirectly, receive more than $100,000 in SURE and other FSA disaster assistance payments. FSA disaster programs include SURE, Livestock Forage Program (LFP), Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP), and Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees, and Farm-raised Fish (ELAP).

      Producers or legal entities, whose nonfarm income is more than $500,000, are not eligible for SURE program payments.

      For questions regarding the SURE program, please contact your local FSA office.

      USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender.


Farm Service Agency County Committee

Nominations In Progress Deadline August 1

      Farmers, ranchers and landowners are encouraged to nominate farmer and rancher candidates to serve on their local FSA county committee by the Aug. 1, 2011 deadline.  

      Elected county committee members serve a three-year term and are responsible for making decisions on FSA disaster, conservation, commodity, and price support programs, as well as other important federal farm program issues.

      "County committee members are a valuable asset because they are local producers who participate in FSA programs themselves and have a direct connection to farmers and ranchers in the community," USDA Texas FSA Executive Director Juan M. Garcia said. "I would like to see a high level of participation in this year's nomination and election process."

      Producers may nominate themselves or others as candidates. Organizations that represent minority and women farmers and ranchers may also nominate candidates. Nominees must participate in a program administered by FSA, be eligible to vote in a county committee election and reside in the local administrative area (LAA) in which the person is a candidate. To become a nominee, eligible individuals must sign form FSA-669A. The form and more information about county committee elections are available at http://www.fsa.usda.gov/elections.

      "It is important that the county committee reflects the demographics and agricultural interests of the community these individuals represent," Garcia said. "I strongly encourage all producers, including women, minority and beginning farmers and ranchers to participate in the nomination and election process." 

      County committees are comprised of three to five members elected by local producers. All newly elected county committee members and alternates will take office Jan. 2, 2012.

      Nomination forms must be postmarked or received in the local USDA Service Center by close of business on Aug. 1, 2011.

      For more information about county committees, please contact your local FSA office or visit http://www.fsa.usda.gov.

      USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender.



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