Senate Ag Committee Passes Farm Bill

Friday, April 27, 2012                          By Mary Jane Buerkle

      In a bipartisan vote, albeit without support from three key members from the South, the Senate Agriculture Committee on Thursday passed their version of the 2012 Farm Bill. The legislative package will now go to the full Senate for consideration.

      The bill includes the National Cotton Council's Stacked Income Protection Plan (STAX), which allows growers the opportunity to purchase a county-based revenue insurance plan as a stand-alone policy OR to supplement an existing federal crop insurance policy. The STAX component can cover losses exceeding 10 percent of county target revenue with a maximum payment not to exceed 20 percent of the county target revenue. The bill also modifies Upland Cotton Marketing Loan Provisions in accordance with NCC's proposed changes to address pending Brazil/WTO compliance panel findings.

      Although direct payments, which have become more difficult to defend in today's economic and political climate, were eliminated in the bill, crop insurance was left unharmed. The bill makes several improvements to crop insurance including making enterprise units permanent and allowing establishment of separate enterprise units for dryland and irrigated acreage. The bill also establishes a new Supplemental Coverage Option for producers.

      However, there are still deep concerns with the bill. Sen. John Boozman of Arkansas, Sen. Saxby Chambliss of Georgia and Sen. Thad Cochran of Mississippi all did not vote for the legislation, citing issues with irrigated acreage, peanuts, rice and cotton. The NCC expressed concerns as well.

      "The NCC is committed to continue to work with those (rice and peanut) growers and their organizations to successfully modify the legislation before it reaches the Senate floor vote to ensure that Sunbelt farmers get the much-needed economic benefit of an adequate safety net," NCC Chairman Chuck Coley said. "While it is important for cotton to have a workable program, many of our growers also rely on peanuts, rice and other crops for their livelihood and need viable cropping options."

      In a news release from the NCC, Coley said the U.S. cotton industry also has concerns with provisions regarding new lower payment limits, a significantly lower Adjusted Gross Income eligibility test, and changes to the actively engaged in farming provisions used to determine eligibility for revenue and loan programs.

      PCG Executive Vice President Steve Verett said that the organization is committed to working with the Senate and the House in the continued development of the 2012 Farm Bill.

      "This is by no means a perfect bill, but we appreciate the Senate Ag Committee and Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) for their work in ensuring that so many provisions for which we fought remained in this legislative package as it moved out of the Committee," Verett said.     

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Texas Cotton Producers Visit Washington, DC

Friday, April 27, 2012                          By Mary Jane Buerkle

      More than 20 growers and association representatives from across Texas visited members of Congress earlier this week as part of a trip arranged by the National Cotton Council.

      PCG delegates included Shawn Wade, Director of Policy Analysis and Research; President Craig Heinrich; Secretary-Treasurer Johnie Reed; Executive Committee member Eddy Herm, and PCG Board members Chris Berry and Weldon Melton.

      Members and staff were briefed on a variety of subjects including environmental issues, the current status of the Boll Weevil and Pink Bollworm eradication programs, various research initiatives supported by the NCC, cotton marketing topics, and key provisions for cotton in the 2012 Farm Bill.


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Region Could See Above-Normal Rainfall

Soon, Expert Says at Drought Forum

Friday, April 27, 2012                          By Mary Jane Buerkle

      The next three months on the High Plains could be cooler with more plentiful rainfall, one research scientist said on Thursday at the Southern Great Plains Drought Outlook and Assessment Forum.

      Klaus Wolter, a climate research scientist at the University of Colorado, said that a repeat of last year's intense heat was unlikely, and that weather experts would be able to tell in the next couple of months whether the region will see a move out of La Nina and into El Nino conditions. Warmer ocean temperatures would mean that an El Nino pattern would set in, which usually brings above-average rainfall.

      The National Weather Service has a more conservative outlook, forecasting equal chances across the board for below-average, average and above-average rainfall.

      The moisture situation across the High Plains is still mixed. Some areas had decent winter moisture, but a good planting rain is still needed across most of the PCG service area. However, for the most part, land is in better shape than it was at planting time in 2011. Growers report a fair amount of pre-watering as planting will begin in full force over the next few weeks.


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SWCA, Texas Ag Forum to Host Southwest Ag

Issues Summit in September

The Southwest Council of Agribusiness and the Texas Ag Forum will host the inaugural Southwest Ag Issues Summit on September 9-11 at the Barton Creek Resort in Austin.

The Summit is an opportunity for agricultural leaders to discuss key issues facing agriculture. The event also provides the opportunity to network with fellow agricultural influencers in the industry. The Summit is an effort to help unite the voices of agricultural leaders, allowing them to better serve the industry as a whole and ensure the security of America's food and fiber producers.

Keynote speaker for the dinner event on September 10 will be well-known economist and futurist Dr. Lowell Catlett. Learn more about Dr. Catlett at

Platinum sponsors include CoBank and the Farm Credit Bank of Texas. Additional sponsorship opportunities are available; please contact Chris Snodgrass at or Mitchell Harris at

Registration is $300/attendee or $450 for an attendee and spouse. Golf packages are available as well.

More information about the Southwest Ag Issues Summit, including how to register and a tentative agenda, is at


PCG Offers Opportunity for Communication

Using Facebook and Twitter

Friday, April 27, 2012                          By Mary Jane Buerkle

      Anyone interested in cotton industry news can access Plains Cotton Growers, Inc. via social media channels, including a Facebook page and a Twitter feed.

These tools are not meant to replace any of PCG's current methods of communication, but to enhance them and offer the opportunity to reach out to those in the social media community. Articles, photos and other information can be posted and shared immediately and "fans" or "followers" can then comment and ask questions, and re-tweet or share the post with their contacts.

An additional benefit is that through Facebook and Twitter, PCG can monitor other businesses, organizations and individuals to gather and distribute news pertinent to the industry.

PCG's Facebook page can be found at The Twitter feed is at Both also can be viewed at our website at