More Speakers Confirmed for

PCG Annual Meeting on April 5

Friday, March 15, 2013                     By Mary Jane Buerkle

      More speakers have been added to the lineup for the 56th Annual Meeting of Plains Cotton Growers, Inc., scheduled for Friday, April 5, in the Banquet Hall of the Lubbock Memorial Civic Center.

      PCG's Annual Meeting will begin at 8:30 a.m. with registration, and the program will start promptly at 9 a.m. The meeting is held in conjunction with the Texas Cotton Ginners' Association Annual Meeting and Trade Show, April 4-5, 2013, in Lubbock.

      The current slate of speakers includes U.S. Rep. Randy Neugebauer, who will discuss the Farm Bill and other pressing issues facing Congress; Texas Rep. Charles Perry, who will discuss state issues, including water; Brandon Willis, administrator for the USDA's Risk Management Agency, who will discuss crop insurance; and Baron Batch, running back for the NFL's Pittsburgh Steelers and veteran Texas Tech Red Raider, who will tell his story of perseverance, diligence, and survivorship.

      Current PCG president Craig Heinrich of Slaton, Texas, will preside over the meeting and PCG Executive Vice President Steve Verett will report on the status of PCG operations and activities. The 2012 High Plains Cotton Agent of the Year will be presented during the meeting.

      A buffet breakfast will be served from 7:00-8:30 a.m. in the Civic Center Banquet Hall sponsored by Monsanto and Deltapine. Breakfast will be provided free to all PCG Annual Meeting participants. Immediately following the PCG Annual Meeting will be the annual FiberMax Cottonseed Luncheon for PCG Annual Meeting participants and members of the FiberMax "One Ton Club." Lunch will be served in the Civic Center Banquet Hall.

      Additional information about PCG can be found online at



PCG, Commodity Groups, Others Focus on

Lesser Prairie-Chicken

Friday, March 15, 2013                             By Shawn Wade

      The Lesser Prairie-Chicken (LEPC) has been on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's radar screen as a candidate for listing as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act of 1973 for more than 10 years. During that time period, however, the LEPC has been a species that was considered a species of relatively low priority compared to others that garnered a significantly higher level of attention by the USFWS.

      Over the past year, however, the USFWS increased the priority of the LEPC and several other species. In December 2012 the USFWS published a proposed rule in the Federal Register outlining its intent to list the Lesser Prairie-Chicken as a threatened species and currently is in the process of gathering comments and evaluating scientific data related to the proposed listing.

      As a result of the USFWS action, Plains Cotton Growers and other commodity groups representing farmers and ranchers in the Panhandle and South Plains region of Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado have come together to oppose the listing of the LEPC as threatened. PCG has submitted formal comments in opposition of the proposed listing and also submitted testimony at the USFWS public hearing conducted in Lubbock on February 11, 2013.

      In addition to submitting testimony and comments on the issue directly with the USFWS, a significant part of PCG's effort also has included working with the other agriculture stakeholder groups in the impacted region to represent agricultural landowner interests. The main focus of that effort is to encourage the development of a single voluntary, range-wide LEPC management plan.

      Multiple entities, including state wildlife agencies, are working to develop range-wide plans. One of those groups is the Lesser Prairie-Chicken Interstate Working Group (LEPCIWG), which is primarily composed of state wildlife agency biologists and leadership from the five states impacted by the proposed listing as well as some energy and agriculture stakeholder groups. In addition, energy, agriculture, university and environmental groups are developing a similar plan, with essentially the same goals as the LEPCIWG. PCG is working with both groups to insure that private landowner interests are fully represented.

      Ultimately, PCG believes the two efforts should be brought together to capitalize on their individual strengths and form a single, unified range-wide conservation plan that is able to generate voluntary habitat benefits and provide measurable financial incentives to landowners whether the LEPC is listed or not. Even if the two efforts are never brought together as a single, range-wide plan, PCG is working to insure that they both are able to meet the full regulatory requirements of the USFWS should the listing occur as proposed.

      The purpose of any range-wide LEPC management plan must be to provide a mechanism through which landowners can voluntarily join efforts to conserve and improve LEPC habitat and increase LEPC populations, while simultaneously earning regulatory protections and monetary compensation through the generation of tradable conservation habitat credits.

      "The Lesser Prairie-Chicken had become a real conversation starter over the past couple of months," PCG Executive Vice President Steve Verett said. "It is critical that PCG and other ag groups stay involved as the USFWS goes through the steps to determine whether or not a listing of the Lesser Prairie-Chicken as a threatened species is warranted. Regardless, we will continue with other groups from the five-state region impacted by the USFWS' proposed listing to protect the needs of landowners and encourage a cooperative effort among other stakeholders, wildlife agency personnel and the federal government."



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AgriLife Extension Profitability Workshop

Set for March 19 in Lubbock

Friday, March 15, 2013 From Texas A&M AgriLife Extension

      What to grow and when to market it are the main ideas behind the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service's Profitability Workshop, set from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesday, March 19 at the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center at Lubbock.

      The center is a half mile east of Interstate 27 on U.S. Highway 1294 north of the Lubbock Airport.

      "We are teaching only one profitability workshop at the Lubbock center this year," said Dr. Jackie Smith, AgriLife Extension economist at Lubbock. "This training will center around an Excel spreadsheet developed by my coworker, Jay Yates, AgriLife Extension risk management specialist at Lubbock and myself.

      "The overall objective of the workshop is to provide the tools and the data along with the skills needed to evaluate the potential profitability of alternative crops for the 2013 crop year," Smith said.

      The spreadsheet was developed and is maintained as part of a project supported by the Texas Cotton State Support Committee, Smith said. It is comprised of one Excel file with 16 irrigated and seven dryland crop budget and summary sheets that draw information from the individual crop budgets.

      "The profitability spreadsheet has been used by many producers on the South Plains as well as statewide and internationally and can be downloaded at,"  Smith said.

      He said he and Yates have also developed a mobile app now available that will also be demonstrated during the training. The app is similar, but contains less detailed cost data than the spreadsheet.

      "The Crop Cost app can be found in the iPhone category in the Apple store, but is also compatible with the iPad," Smith said.

      Smith said workshop participants will learn to enter general price data into the program's universal input price sheet, which will show the inputs used per acre as well as the potential yield.

      "We as instructors, plan to provide participants with the necessary computer skills and the understanding of how the budgets are designed so they will leave equipped to use the tool to make better cropping decisions this year," Smith said.


      Smith and Yates have used the spreadsheet for several years at many crop conferences to compare the likely profitability of relevant crops. They said the spreadsheet is continually improved to make it more accurate and user-friendly and updated annually in January or monthly as needed.

      Participants are encouraged to bring their own laptop computers to the class.

      No pre-registration is necessary. Individual registration is $20 per person due on arrival. The fee covers lunch, refreshments and a spreadsheet file on a CD, a USB flash or "jump" drive or installed on their personal computer.

      For more information, call the AgriLife center in Lubbock at 806-746-6101.


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Upcoming Area Ag Conferences

      NOTE: A complete list, along with program agendas when made available, can be found on the Plains Cotton Growers website at

      March 20 - Corn Conference, Ochiltree Expo, Perryton - Contact Scott Strawn, County Extension Agent-AG, for more information at 806-435-4501.

      March 25 - Beef Cattle Short Course, Post - Contact Greg Jones, County Extension Agent-AG, for more information at 806-495-4400.

      March 26 - Rebuilding the Cow Herd, Rita Blanca Coliseum, Dalhart - Contact Mike Bragg, County Extension Agent-AG, for more information at 806-244-4434.

      March 26 - Business Expo, Mallet Center, Levelland - Contact Kerry Siders, Extension Agent-IPM, for more information at 806-894-3159.

      March 27 - Pre-Plant Cotton Update, Tahoka - Contact Bryan Reynolds, County Extension Agent-AG, for more information at 806-561-4562.

      March 28 - Beef Issues Meeting, Clarendon - Contact Leonard Haynes, County Extension Agent-AG, for more information at 806-874-2141.

      March 29 - Prepping for Peanut Workshop, Brownfield - Contact Chris Bishop, County Extension Agent-AG, for more information at 806-637-4060.

      If you have another conference to add to this list, or if you have an agenda you'd like to link, please call PCG at (806) 792-4904.