House Passes Farm Bill Sans Nutrition Title

Friday, July 12, 2013                           By Mary Jane Buerkle

      Yes, it was a nontraditional path.

      Yes, it was close.

      But the fact remains that the U.S. House of Representatives finally passed H.R. 2642, the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management (FARRM) Act of 2013 by a vote of 216-208.

      What made the process unconventional is the removal of the nutrition title from the bill, and the repeal of provisions of the 1938 and 1949 Acts, which are permanent law, but have been suspended as long as a five-year Farm Bill is in place.

      However, the FARRM Act, as it stands now, would mandate that the law would revert to the provisions of the 2013 Farm Bill should Congress fail to pass a new Farm Bill in the future. The rest of the bill is the same as the House Agriculture Committee-approved bill taken to the floor in mid-June, with amendments offered and passed during floor debate.

      House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-Oklahoma) said that he would have preferred to keep the bill intact, minus some Food Stamp amendments believed to have halted passage previously, but that the split was the only way to move the bill forward and get it to the conference process. It should be noted that food stamp funding will continue at current levels under the Agriculture Appropriations Bill until Congress and the President decide otherwise.

      "Today was an important step toward enacting a five-year farm bill this year that gives our farmers and ranchers certainty, provides regulatory relief to small businesses across the country, significantly reduces spending, and makes common-sense, market-oriented reforms to agricultural policy," Chairman Lucas said in a news release. "I look forward to continuing conversations with my House colleagues and starting conversations with my Senate colleagues on a path forward that ultimately gets a farm bill to the President's desk in the coming months."

      No Democrats voted for the bill, and the Republicans, after a successful whip process, only had 12 defectors – none from Texas – who voted against the bill. Eleven members did not vote, including Gene Green (D-Texas). Republican representatives from Cotton Belt states who voted against the bill were Ron DeSantis of Florida; John Duncan of Tennessee; Trent Franks of Arizona; Phil Gingrey of Georgia; Tim Huelskamp of Kansas; Walter Jones of North Carolina; Tom McClintock of California; Matt Salmon of Arizona; and Mark Sanford of South Carolina.

      The bill still has a relatively tough path through conference, and the White House already has threatened to veto the bill. Members of the conference committee are chosen by Agriculture Committee leadership in both the House and the Senate, and it is highly likely that the High Plains will have representation in that group. The conference committee is charged with combining the two versions of the bill into a final, five-year legislative package that can be approved by the Congress and presented to President Barack Obama for a decision.

      However, with the expiration of the one-year extension looming, conference committee leaders will have more pressure to craft a bipartisan bill relatively quickly.

      "We have said from the beginning that this is not a perfect bill, nor was this a perfect process, but we cannot let perfect be the enemy of good," PCG Executive Vice President Steve Verett said. "The House Agriculture Committee has worked diligently to put together a bill that reduces spending and offers significant reforms, and we thank Chairman Lucas, Subcommittee Chairman Mike Conaway, Representatives Randy Neugebauer and Mac Thornberry, and all of the Members who helped get us one step closer to having a five-year comprehensive bill.

      "We also thank Ranking Member Collin Peterson from Minnesota for his efforts, even though he could not support final passage because of the food stamp split," Verett said. "He is a tremendous friend to agriculture, and he and Chairman Lucas will continue to stand together, along with the rest of the conference committee, to move this bill across the finish line."


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USDA Extends Acreage Reporting Deadline for FSA to August 2;

Risk Management Deadline Remains Unchanged – Monday, July 15

Friday, July 12, 2013   From the USDA Farm Service Agency

      USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) Administrator Juan M. Garcia today announced an extension of the FSA acreage reporting deadline.

      Farmers and landowners have an additional 18 calendar days to submit their annual report of acreage to their local FSA county office with the deadline extended from Monday, July 15, 2013, to Friday, Aug. 2, 2013.

      Only the FSA reporting deadline has been extended. The acreage reporting requirement for crop insurance has not changed and remains July 15.

      "We want to ensure our producers maintain their program benefits by filing their reports accurately and in a timely manner for all crops and land uses, including prevented and failed acreage," said Administrator Garcia.

      Accurate acreage reports are necessary to determine and maintain eligibility for various programs, such as the Direct and Counter-cyclical Program (DCP); the Average Crop Revenue Election Program (ACRE); the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP); and the Non-insured Crop Disaster Assistant Program (NAP).

      Acreage reports for FSA are considered timely this year when filed at the county office by the new applicable final crop reporting deadline of Aug. 2, 2013. Producers should contact their county FSA office if they are uncertain about reporting deadlines.

      While FSA is able to extend its deadline, Risk Management Agency (RMA) Administrator Brandon Willis emphasized today that RMA's acreage reporting date remains July 15, 2013, for most spring planted crops in the country. Farmers are reminded to report any loss within 72 hours of discovery to their insurance company. Farmers must report prevented planting acreage to their insurance company, in writing, within 15 calendar days after the final planting date. Losses must be reported and an insurance adjuster must view and release the crop before the crop is destroyed.

      Farmers are also reminded to contact their insurance agent if they have any questions about coverage, prevented planting, or for reporting and processing a claim.

      Crop insurance is sold and delivered solely through private crop insurance agents. Contact a local crop insurance agent for more information about the program. A list of crop insurance agents is available at all USDA Service Centers or on the RMA web site at

      Producers also should visit their USDA Service Center to complete acreage reporting for FSA. For questions on this or any FSA program, producers should contact their FSA county office or seek information online at

      USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.



Cotton Industry Seeks Volunteer Leaders

Friday, June 28, 2013                             By Shawn Wade

      The success of the High Plains cotton industry, like any group effort, is directly tied to the willingness of qualified individuals to volunteer to serve in various leadership positions. To identify these volunteers, the High Plains cotton industry caucuses each year with other cotton groups within Texas to identify producers interested in serving as a volunteer leader.

      PCG encourages all qualified individuals interested in representing the High Plains as a representative to the Cotton Board, National Cotton Council, or Cotton Incorporated to contact PCG Executive Vice President Steve Verett for more information.

      Each year, a variety of volunteer positions within the NCC and Cotton Incorporated are filled directly through the industry's caucus process. In addition to naming representatives to the NCC and Cotton Incorporated, PCG and the Texas cotton industry also work together to identify and nominate qualified individuals to the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture for possible appointment as a Member or Alternate on the Cotton Board.

      Qualified individuals interested in serving on the Cotton Board, which oversees the highly successful U.S. Cotton Research & Promotion Program, also are encouraged to contact Verett at the PCG office in Lubbock to request additional information. PCG's telephone number is 806-792-4904.

      To be a qualified producer nominee for the Cotton Board, an individual should be actively engaged in cotton production at the time of nomination, be committed to the mission of the Cotton Board and the Cotton Research and Promotion Program, and have demonstrated leadership skills and experience.

      "Whether it is a nomination to serve on the Cotton Board or appointment to a leadership position within the National Cotton Council or Cotton Incorporated, the membership of Plains Cotton Growers has proven to be fertile ground for leaders within our industry," Verett said. "Our industry owes much to the dedicated men and women who step forward to serve their fellow producers. We look forward to extending that tradition of leadership in the years ahead."

      Editor's Note: The Cotton Board seeks to promote diversity and ensure equal opportunity and inclusion for all those who qualify for nomination and appointment to the Cotton Board regardless of race, ethnicity, sex, disability, socio-economic status, religion or sexual orientation.


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Future Cotton Industry Leaders Visit

Cotton Incorporated

Thursday, July 11, 2013    From the COTTON USA Weekly

      Cotton Council International accompanied American Cotton Shippers Association (ACSA) International Cotton Institute students on a trip to Cotton Incorporated's worldwide headquarters in Cary, NC, where they observed various fiber and textile processing technologies. Thirty-seven students from 14 countries participated.

      The 2013 International Cotton Institute is an eight-week residential program designed to provide a basic education in all aspects of the cotton industry.

      In North Carolina, the students participated in discussions with industry experts. Topics included: corporate innovation, the cotton market outlook, non-traditional markets, new product development, marketing success stories and an overview of product implementation.

      The group also observed machinery including: spinning, weaving, knitting, dyeing, garment design software, special applications and treatments, screen printing and finishing. Laboratory tours introduced new research and technologies in the fields of fiber processing, product development, dyeing and finishing, and product evaluation.