PCG Elects New Officer Team,

Executive Committee Members

Friday, April 6, 2012                            By Mary Jane Buerkle

      Craig Heinrich of Slaton, Texas, was elected president of Plains Cotton Growers, Inc., for 2012-2013 during PCG's quarterly Board of Directors meeting on March 30 in Lubbock.

      Joining Heinrich on the PCG officer team are Shawn Holladay of Lamesa, Texas, elected vice president; and Johnie Reed of Kress, Texas, elected secretary-treasurer of the 41-county cotton producer organization.

      Each year the PCG Board also elects a total of nine directors, three from each of the organization's three sub-regions, to serve alongside the organization's three elected officers and two most recent past presidents. The immediate past president serves as chairman of the board.

      Members of the 2012-2013 PCG Executive Committee are: District 1 representatives Frank Bezner Jr. of Hereford, Brent Nelson of Sudan, and Dan B. Smith of Lockney; District 2 representatives Stacy Smith of Wilson, Scott Harmon of Idalou, and David Carter of Levelland; District 3 representatives Wesley Butchee of Seagraves, Al Spinks of Midland and Eddy Herm of Ackerly; President Craig Heinrich of Slaton, Vice President Shawn Holladay of Lamesa, Secretary-Treasurer Johnie Reed of Kress, Board Chairman Brad Heffington of Littlefield, and Past President Barry Evans of Kress.


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2012 Seed Cost Calculator Available

on PCG Website

      The 2012 version of the Plains Cotton Growers, Inc. Seed Cost Calculator is ready and available for download from the PCG website at http://www.plainscotton.org.

      The PCG Seed Cost Calculator has become a popular tool among producers interested in comparing seed and technology prices as they work to finalize their cotton variety selections.

      The 2012 version of the spreadsheet includes listings for 106 conventional, Roundup Ready FLEX, GlyTol, Liberty Link, Bollgard II and Widestrike varieties, including numerous stacked gene versions of these technologies that will be available for sale in West Texas in 2012.

      The PCG seed cost calculator is an interactive Microsoft Excel spreadsheet that allows producers to calculate an estimated cost per acre, for both seed and technology, based on published suggested retail prices.


FSA Extends CRP General Sign-Up

Deadline to April 13

      The sign-up deadline for the Conservation Reserve Program has been extended to April 13, 2012, according to an announcement from U.S. Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency Administrator Bruce Nelson earlier this week.

      "Due to strong interest in CRP, the decision was made to extend CRP sign-up 43 for an additional week. I encourage all eligible farmers and ranchers to take advantage of this opportunity to participate in CRP," said Nelson. "Whether new enrollees or re-enrolling existing CRP contracts, producers who sign up for CRP help to conserve land and improve our soil, water, air and wildlife habitat resources."

      After the CRP general sign-up ends on April 13, FSA will evaluate offers based on cost and the Environmental Benefits Index (EBI). The EBI takes into consideration variables such as wildlife habitat, water quality protection, soil erosion reduction, air quality protection and other enduring benefits. Accepted offers will become effective Oct. 1, 2012.

      CRP is a voluntary program available to agricultural producers to help them use environmentally sensitive land for conservation benefits. Producers enrolled in CRP plant long-term, resource-conserving covers to improve the quality of water, control soil erosion and develop wildlife habitat. In return, USDA provides participants with rental payments and cost-share assistance. Contract duration is between 10 and 15 years. Producers with expiring contracts and producers with environmentally sensitive land are encouraged to evaluate their options under CRP.

      CRP has a 25-year legacy of successfully protecting the nation's natural resources through voluntary participation, while providing significant economic and environmental benefits to rural communities across the United States. Currently, about 30 million acres are enrolled in CRP.

      Producers are encouraged to contact their local FSA service center or visit FSA's website at http://www.fsa.usda.gov/crp for additional information regarding CRP.


COTTON USA Cotton School Convenes in China

Friday, April 6, 2012          From the National Cotton Council

      More than 160 representatives from 88 cotton textile companies in China, Hong Kong and Southeast Asia heard the latest US cotton market information recently at the fourth COTTON USA Cotton School in Qingdao, China. This school is designed to provide participants with a comprehensive understanding of the US cotton industry in terms of planting, production, classification, trade, contract sanctity and purchasing of raw cotton. It has been held in China once every two years since 2006.

      Keynote speakers included the China Cotton Association executive vice president who spoke about the current cotton supply and demand issue, as well as the reserve status in the domestic Chinese market. In addition, the director of the China Textile Economics Research Center offered an analysis of China's textile industrial development and prospects.

      NCC President/CEO Mark Lange delivered a detailed presentation on current cotton industrial development trends in the U.S. and global market, as well as U.S. cotton ginning practices. Representatives from the American Cotton Shippers Association, AMCOT, Cotton Incorporated, Supima, USDA, Hansae Korea, Thai Alliance and Zibo Lanyan also made presentations.

      Some of the largest textile manufacturers from China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam participated in this year's Cotton School. On post-event questionnaires, all participants commented that the Cotton School program is informative, constructive and productive with practical value.


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Integrity of Research and Promotion

Programs Bolstered

Friday, April 6, 2012          From the National Cotton Council

      The Office of the Inspector General recently released its review of the USDA Research and Promotion programs, which USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service requested in 2010 to help the agency better identify potential oversight improvements. In a news release, USDA said AMS is committed to good stewardship of the producer-funded Research and Promotion programs and already has begun implementing the OIG's recommendations.

      The OIG review was conducted in 2010-11 to assess AMS oversight of Research/Promotion activities, and the review focused on AMS internal controls and the oversight of Research/Promotion boards' activities. After reviewing current procedures, the OIG made two recommendations that AMS will implement: (1) AMS will strengthen internal controls related to its oversight of board activities and develop Standard Operating Procedures (SOP); and (2) AMS will develop guidance to conduct periodic internal reviews of its progress in strengthening oversight.

      In advance of OIG's final report, AMS began implementing potential recommendations by taking the following decisive actions to strengthen its oversight duties: 1) revising its guidelines in Nov. 2010 by reinforcing its management reviews of boards and strengthened policies on various administrative functions; 2) finalizing the AMS SOP to ensure consistency in staff responsibilities in Jan. 2012; and 3) implementing periodic internal reviews of the agency's Research and Promotion programs to evaluate and ensure consistency in the application of its policies and responsibilities.

      In addition to the specific recommendations offered in the OIG report, AMS is announcing a new policy that will strongly encourage upfront referendums as the preferable process for establishing all future Research/Promotion programs. This will allow more direct engagement from interested stakeholders and the public prior to the establishment of a potential program, and conform to the Department's overall mission to provide additional transparency to the Research/Promotion programs.

      Cotton Board Chairman John Clark, a Los Angeles, CA, importer, praised AMS oversight activities, citing his experience of working with the Agency as well as the OIG review.

      In the Cotton Board's release, he stated, "Over the years I have come to appreciate the dedication and thoroughness of AMS officials who work directly with the Cotton Board. AMS officials attend our meetings, routinely review contacts, financial statements and other operational documents, and cooperatively engage the Board Members as we carry out our work. AMS oversight helps the Cotton Board implement the Cotton Research and Promotion Program in accordance with law and ensures we safeguard and effectively utilize stakeholder funds."

      Clark noted that the OIG review made only two concrete recommendations regarding AMS oversight. "The relative lack of recommendations on the part of OIG is a clear signal that AMS is carrying out its oversight role extremely well," he said.

      AMS oversees 19 Research and Promotion programs. These industry-funded programs have been in existence since 1966 and empower farmers and ranchers to leverage their own resources to develop new markets, strengthen existing markets and conduct important research and promotion activities. AMS provides an oversight and audit function, paid for by the industry assessments, which ensures fiscal responsibility, program efficiency and fair treatment of participating stakeholders.


Upcoming Area Ag Conferences

The following area ag conferences have been scheduled for April and May:

      April 14 – Wildlife Management Workshop, Potter County – Contact Brandon Boughen, County Extension Agent-AG, 806-373-0713.

      April 25 – Horticulture Meeting, Hereford – Contact Rick Auckerman, County Extension Agent-AG, 806-364-3573.

      April 25 – Spring Beef Class, Potter County – Contact Brandon Boughen, County Extension Agent-AG, 806-373-0713.

      May 5 – Alternative Crops Conference, Bailey County Coliseum, Muleshoe – Contact Curtis Preston, County Extension Agent-AG, 806-272-4584.

      A complete conference list can be found on PCG's website at http://www.plainscotton.org/agconferences.html.