Federal Government Shutdown Lingers

Friday, October 4, 2013                    By Mary Jane Buerkle

     It's been a week of shutdowns, suspensions and expirations, none of which bode well for cotton producers nationwide trying to harvest the 2013 crop and prepare for 2014.

      The 2008 Farm Bill extension expired Tuesday, and although farmers won't see much effect of that during the short term since the extension already has covered the 2013 crop, only time will tell what the long-term effect will be. The Senate has reappointed their conferees, and the House still has yet to reappoint theirs. However, timelines for the process are uncertain, thanks to the federal government shutdown that began at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday.

      At this point, the shutdown poses a more immediate concern for producers than the expiration of the Farm Bill, following the Monday announcement from the Farm Service Agency regarding suspension of the commodity loan program.

      U.S. Department of Agriculture offices, including the Farm Service Agency, Risk Management Agency, and the Natural Resources Conservation Service, are all closed with the exception of a few positions. RMA is completely closed, although some private crop insurance companies have announced that they will continue to process and pay claims during the shutdown.

      At this time, cotton classing is proceeding as usual since the program itself is fee-based instead of tax-supported. However, any lapse in service could halt the entire marketing process. USDA reports related to cotton quality are unavailable due to the shutdown, as is the entire USDA website. The next World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates, Crop Production, and Cotton Ginnings reports are scheduled for release on Friday, October 11.

      "For the sake of our country, and especially agriculture and those affected directly by this shutdown, we hope that Congress and the Administration will come to a resolution soon so we can get America back on track," PCG Executive Vice President Steve Verett said. "We are approaching a very critical time in the 2013 crop year and we need all systems to flow smoothly so we can get this crop harvested and moving through the marketing chain."


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All Urged to Help Prevent Lint Contamination

Friday, October 4, 2013                        By Mary Jane Buerkle

      Cotton in the United States is considered some of the least contaminated in the world market. To maintain that reputation, growers and ginners are encouraged to employ techniques that avoid foreign material from getting into modules or being introduced during the ginning process.

      Mark Lange, President and CEO of the National Cotton Council, said that U.S. spinners are reporting more contamination in recent crops than in the past. Some of the reported contaminants include black plastics resembling mulch commonly used in vegetable production, and materials associated with tie downs and covers, including plastic wrap.

      Although we don't yet see as many round modules on the High Plains as in other parts of the Cotton Belt, those who do handle them should be diligent in properly handling and removing the wrap. The NCC has a page devoted to round module handling at http://www.cotton.org/tech/quality/round-module-handling.cfm.

      The NCC offers the following tips for growers: inspect fields prior to harvest for foreign materials that could easily be picked up by harvesting equipment; remove foreign materials such as twine, ditch liners, field mulch, shopping bags and related plastics from their fields before harvest; and inspect harvest equipment daily for plastic contaminants.

      "It is everyone's responsibility, throughout the cotton production chain, to ensure that the United States maintains our reputation of producing high-quality, contaminant-free cotton," PCG's Executive Vice President Steve Verett said. "We remain in a highly competitive environment and we can't afford to allow any kind of quality degradation that could affect our place in the market."

      For more information on how to prevent lint contamination, visit http://www.cotton.org/tech/quality/prevent-lint.cfm.


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PCG Board of Directors To Meet October 9

Friday, October 4, 2013                 By Mary Jane Buerkle

      The next regular meeting of the Board of Directors for Plains Cotton Growers, Inc. will begin at 9:00 a.m. Wednesday, October 9, at Cagle Steaks, located west of Lubbock. Lunch will be served at the conclusion of the meeting.

      Jay Yates with Texas A&M AgriLife Extension will give a cotton market report and Craig Brown with the National Cotton Council will give a legislative update. Cary Allen, meteorologist with KCBD NewsChannel 11 in Lubbock, will provide a weather outlook. Other items include 2014 Business Director Nominations, the Nominating Committee Election and an update on the status of PCG finances through the first three months of the fiscal year.

      For more information, contact PCG at (806) 792-4904.