Plains Cotton Growers Applauds House

Approval of Agricultural Act of 2014

Friday, January 31, 2014               By Mary Jane Buerkle

      Cotton growers across the High Plains expressed gratitude this week to the U.S. House of Representatives for their passage of the Agricultural Act of 2014 by a vote of 251-166.

      The next stop for the bill is the Senate, which is expected to vote on Tuesday. President Obama already has indicated in news reports that he would sign the bill once it arrives on his desk.

      "This legislative package adequately meets the needs of cotton producers across the Cotton Belt, and is the best we could have expected in this budgetary climate," Plains Cotton Growers President Craig Heinrich, a cotton grower from Slaton, said. "This bill will save $23 billion over 10 years, reforms and streamlines programs, and gives farmers assurance that they can continue to grow food and fiber to feed and clothe this nation and the world."

      For cotton, the shift from direct cash payments to crop insurance-based risk management achieves meaningful reforms while continuing to work toward a successful resolution of the Brazil WTO case.

      The bill includes a transition program for cotton in the 2014 crop year, since enactment will come too late for USDA and the private sector to offer the new Stacked Income Protection Plan (STAX), until 2015.

      Crop insurance continues to be the backbone of the farm safety net for cotton, and the bill includes several important improvements in the crop insurance program that will allow farmers to better tailor their crop insurance to the appropriate risk.

      PCG will be working with Texas A&M AgriLife Extension and others to host events related to the implementation of the bill. More information will be announced at a later date.

      PCG Executive Vice President Steve Verett expressed appreciation to the farm bill conference committee, which includes PCG service area representatives U.S. Rep. Randy Neugebauer and U.S. Rep. Mike Conaway, for their efforts.

      "The farm bill conference committee, under the strong leadership of House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas, Ranking Member Collin Peterson, Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, and Ranking Member Thad Cochran, has successfully negotiated a package that cuts the deficit, reduces the size and scope of government, and achieves necessary reform through the creation of this farm bill," Verett said. "However, our work is not done, as we must continue working together to pass this bill through the Senate and have it signed by the President. Plains Cotton Growers certainly will stand behind all of our farm bill supporters as we continue our efforts to pass a five-year bill that works for agriculture to support our economy."


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Texas Tech Receives $19.3 Million from

Bayer CropScience

Thursday, January 23, 2014                 By Leslie Cranford

      Texas Tech University officials announced on January 23 a $19.3 million contribution from Bayer CropScience to benefit research programs and projects in the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources.

      The $19.3 million contribution has been submitted for an equal amount of state matching funds from the Texas Research Incentive Program, which would increase the total impact to $38.6 million and be the largest cash investment for research in the history of Texas Tech University.

      "Today's announcement continues a productive and valuable research collaboration between Texas Tech University and Bayer CropScience," said Texas Tech University System Chancellor Kent Hance, who has been working on this contribution with Scott Cooksey, interim vice chancellor for Institutional Advancement, for three years. "Along with anticipated matching funds from the Texas Research Incentive Program, the impact of this contribution will reach nearly $40 million and benefit not only our research enterprise, faculty and students, but also our region."

      The funds will support significant research developments in the Department of Plant and Soil Science, including an endowed chair in PSS, a fellowship endowment for graduate students and new research facilities and space in PSS.

      "Partnerships between Texas Tech University and corporations like Bayer CropScience are essential as we advance our research enterprise and continue our forward momentum as one of the nation's leading research institutions," said Texas Tech University President M. Duane Nellis. "We are truly grateful to Bayer CropScience and its leadership for their confidence and vision in Texas Tech University and look forward to collaborating on cutting-edge and impactful research."

      Bayer's total contributions to Texas Tech since 1998 equal $27.6 million. The full impact of Bayer contributions to Texas Tech including matching funds is $54.85 million, when leveraged with TRIP and Regents' Professorship matching funds totaling $27.25 million.

      "We are so pleased at the opportunity to continue to build our relationship with Texas Tech University," said Mike Gilbert, vice president for Global Breeding and Trait Development, Bayer CropScience. "It will take multiple companies and institutions to address all the challenges agriculture will face in the future. Bayer CropScience is committed to research and development through collaborations such as this, and Texas Tech shares these same commitments. We look forward to a long and rewarding relationship that will impact agriculture in ways we can't even imagine today."


Texas Agricultural Lifetime Leadership

Program Seeking Applicants for Class XIV

      Texas Agricultural Lifetime Leadership Program is seeking applicants for its new class, which will begin in July.

      TALL is a two-year leadership development program managed by the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service. Applications for the newest class, Class XIV, are due March 15. Application forms are online at

      "Texas agriculture has a need for individuals who can lead our industry as it faces new and unique challenges. These individuals will provide the leadership, insight and direction to ensure agricultural viability for the future," said Dr. Jim Mazurkiewicz, AgriLife Extension leadership program director.

      The program invests 455 hours of intensive training per person in seminars, speakers and domestic and international study trips over two years, Mazurkiewicz added. It is equivalent to the time spent obtaining a master's degree in agriculture.

      The typical class size is about 25, and tuition is $3,000.

      "The goal of the program is to create a strong network within Texas agriculture by having representation from all agricultural industries and geographic regions," Mazurkiewicz said.

      Participants include traditional crop producers, ranchers, bankers and attorneys, as well as those who work in lumber, food processing, agricultural corporations and horticultural industries, he said.


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PEP Gives Cotton Producers Better

Grasp of Policy, Issues

Thursday, January 30, 2014 From the National Cotton Council

      Thirteen U.S. cotton producers have been selected to participate in the 2014 National Cotton Council Policy Education Program, which will give them an opportunity to learn more about the NCC's policy development/implementation process and industry issues.

      Supported annually by Syngenta Crop Protection through grants to The Cotton Foundation since 1999, the PEP enables up to four producers from each major Cotton Belt region to attend the NCC's annual meeting where they receive an orientation to the NCC and its policy development process firsthand. The participants also receive communications training - a key step in the NCC's efforts to identify, train and maintain capable industry spokespersons.

      This year's participants include: Jacob Appleberry and A.J. Hood, both from Tillar, Ark.; Brandon Belch, Conway, NC; Jayme Dunn, Satana, Kan.; Scott Flowers, Clarksdale, Miss.; Philip Marek, Wharton, Tex.; Nick Marshall, Baker Fla.; Lance Miller, Boaz, Ala.; Steve Olson, Plainview, Tex.; Glenn Sapp, Sale City, Ga.; Chase Schuchard, Roscoe, Tex.; Nick Seaton, Meadow, Tex.; and Martin Stoerner, Lockney, Texas.

      The first 2014 PEP session will enable the NCC producer members to attend the NCC's Annual Meeting, February 7-9 in Washington, DC. There they will see representatives from the seven U.S. cotton industry segments in the 17 Cotton Belt states work out common problems and develop programs of mutual benefit. They will see the formulation and implementation of NCC policy and NCC resolutions, which guide the organization's efforts as it manages issues that confront the industry during the year.

      In the mid-July Session 2, the group will travel to Greensboro, NC, and return to the nation's capital. While in Greensboro, they will participate in a series of meetings with Syngenta's management team and tour their research facilities as well as receive communications training. In Washington, the group will visit with House and Senate agriculture committees' staff, meet with USDA officials and get briefed by NCC Washington operations staff.

      John Gibson, the NCC's Member Services director and PEP coordinator, said Syngenta's faithful support of the program has enabled the NCC to raise some 200 cotton producers' awareness of how their commodity association functions and the challenges facing the industry.

      "Providing these producers, for example, with a deeper understanding of federal farm policy, environmental issues and market development is invaluable," Gibson said. "They understand better how these affect their industry's health and competitive position in the world marketplace which, in turn, helps the Council mobilize them when we need to advocate with lawmakers and other key officials."


Upcoming Area Ag Conferences

      February 6 – Cotton Variety Selection & Market Update, Yoakum County – Contact J.W. Wagner, County Extension Agent-AG, 806-456-2263.

February 10 – Hale/Swisher Crops Conference, Ollie Liner Center, Plainview – Contact Gary Cross, County Extension Agent-AG, 806-291-5267.

February 12 – Hub of the Plains Ag Conference, KoKo Palace, Lubbock – Contact Mark Brown, County Extension Agent-AG, 806-775-1680.

February 12 – Weed Management, Friona – Contact Benji Henderson, County Extension Agent-AG, 806-481-3619.

February 14 – Cotton Conference, Hereford – Contact Rick Auckerman, County Extension Agent-AG, 806-364-3573.

      February 17 – Crop Producers Meeting, Consumers Coop, Dalhart – Contact Mike Bragg, County Extension Agent-AG, 806-244-4434.

      February 18 – Irrigation Technology, Lipscomb – Contact J.R. Sprague, County Extension Agent-AG, 806-862-4601.

      February 19 – Other than Cotton Meeting, Texas Forest Park Community Center, Lamesa – Contact Gary Roschetzky, County Extension Agent-AG, 806-872-3444.

      February 20 – Sandyland Ag Conference, Seminole – Contact Terry Millican, County Extension Agent-AG, 432-758-4006.