USDA Releases Planted Acreage Estimates,

Preliminary 2012 Census Report

Friday, February 28, 2014                    By Mary Jane Buerkle

      The U.S. Department of Agriculture released their planted acreage estimates for cotton last week at the Agricultural Outlook Forum, and USDA Chief Economist Joseph Glauber said that because cotton prices are "expected to fall less than competing crops," acreage should increase in 2014 to 11.5 million acres, a 1.1 million acre jump from 2013.

      This USDA estimate includes both upland and Pima cotton. Upland-only figures will not be released until the National Agricultural Statistics Service's Prospective Plantings Report at the end of March. The 11.5 million acreage projection is very close to the National Cotton Council's prediction earlier this month of 11.26 million acres of all cotton.

      The USDA also expects cotton prices to slip in 2014, projecting prices at 68 cents per pound, a decline of 8 cents per pound from 2013-14 and the lowest level since 2009-2010, Glauber said. He noted that larger crops would result in significant stock building and lower crop prices in corn, soybeans, rice and cotton.

      Also at the Economic Forum, the USDA released their preliminary results of the 2012 Census of Agriculture. Crop sales totaled $212.4 billion, exceeding livestock sales for only the second time in Census history, according to a news release.

      In addition, the Census revealed that the average age of principal farm operators is 58.3, up more than a year since 2007, continuing an upward trend over the past three decades. In Texas, the average age is just more than 60, up from 58.9 in 2007.


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Farm Bill Educational Meetings Scheduled

      The National Cotton Council and the Southwest Council of Agribusiness have scheduled several meetings in the PCG service area to provide more information on the Agricultural Act of 2014, the Farm Bill.

      NCC meetings, which are co-sponsored by PCG and Texas Cotton Ginners Association and presented by NCC senior staff, are as follows:

      March 17 – Lamesa, 9 a.m., Leroy Colgan Building, S. 10th St. & S. Houston St. at Forrest Park

      March 17 – Seminole, 2 p.m., Old City Hall - Ambassador Room, 101 Avenue A

      March 18 – Lubbock, 9 a.m., Bayer Museum of Agriculture, 1121 Canyon Lake Drive

      March 18 – Muleshoe, 2 p.m., Bailey County Electric Cooperative, 610 E. American Blvd

      March 19 – Plainview, 9 a.m., Plainview Country Club, 2902 W. 4th St.

      March 19 – Amarillo, 2:30 p.m., AgriLife Extension Center, 6500 Amarillo Blvd West

      A complete list of NCC meetings across the Cotton Belt is at

      Southwest Council of Agribusiness meetings, which are co-sponsored by the Agricultural Food and Policy Center and Texas A&M AgriLife Extension and presented by Dr. Joe Outlaw of the AFPC and Tom Sell of Combest, Sell & Associates, are as follows:

      March 19 – Lamesa, 9 a.m.-2 p.m., Forrest Park Community Building, 814 S. Houston (lunch provided)

      March 20 – Lubbock, 9 a.m.-1 p.m., Plains Cotton Cooperative Association Delegate Body Room, 3301 E. 50th St. (enter through west doors – lunch provided)

      March 21 – Amarillo, time and location TBD

      A complete list of SWCA meetings is at

      More meetings likely will be scheduled in the future. An updated list is available on the PCG website,


Common Sense Water Policy is HPWD Goal

Friday, February 28, 2014  By Ronnie Hopper, HPWD Board

      The High Plains Water District Board of Directors and staff are working to develop common sense water policy for our district.  Our goal is to develop policy by April 1, 2014 and to implement it by January 1, 2015.

      Water and its use are complex and often controversial issues. 

      Water strikes at the core of our liberty.  I believe that private property ownership has made this nation greater than many others, thereby revealing the great responsibility that lies on our shoulders. In the past, the groundwater has provided livelihood for tens of thousands of our residents, paid for the education of our children and helped build our cities.

      For generations, West Texas landowners have struggled to purchase land. I sometimes think that water policy should be decided solely by my fellow landowners and me.  After all, we are the only group immediately affected by water district policy.   West Texas producers and landowners are generally an independent lot.  It is easy for us to become self-absorbed and solely independent until we stop to realize that we, like others, need someone else.

      Yes, we produce the commodity, but someone else processes it and sends it along the chain toward public consumption.  Someone else educates our children and prepares them for their future. Someone else protects our homes and businesses from fire and theft.  Think of the thousands of businesses, both large and small, that depend on each other for their livelihoods. The list is endless. I am amazed how little I do for myself each day and how much others do for me.

      Our water decision, as I see it, is a debate between preservation versus conservation.

      There are those who believe the groundwater stored under lands of our district should be set aside (preserved) for future use.  They believe water will be of greater value to the future residents.  Those who favor conservation, on the other hand, believe the groundwater should be used in a judicious and prudent manner (conserved) in present times.

      Remember, land always moves to its highest and best use.  When our area was first settled, it was ranch land for cattle.  Later, the land was broken out and it became irrigated farmland, a higher and better use.  Irrigated agriculture generates more dollars moving through the economy than does dryland production. 

      I explain the difference as $400.00.  In round numbers, I spend $700.00 in production expenses for each irrigated acre that I farm and $300.00 for each dryland acre.  The $400.00/acre is reduced revenue to our local communities, impacting local businesses. It is easy to see the reduction in revenue when our farmland moves from irrigated to dryland agriculture.  Over time, irrigated farmland will continue to move toward dryland production.

      Still, agriculture has a great story to tell.  More than ever before, crops such as corn, wheat, sorghum and cotton produce higher yields with greater efficiencies using less water.  For example, the amount of water required to produce one pound of cotton forty years ago is now producing more than three pounds.  This is only one of many examples: a great success!  This trend will likely continue.

      My fellow Directors at HPWD and I will not have the wisdom to develop sound water policy without the advice, consent and support of the stakeholders.  We ask for this input and support as we move forward with our task.


Upcoming Area Ag Conferences

      March 4 – Hall/Briscoe Ag Conference, Turkey – Contact Josh Brooks, County Extension Agent-AG, 806-259-3015.

March 4 – Water Quality Effects on Crop Production, Lipscomb – Contact J.R. Sprague, County Extension Agent-AG, 806-862-4601.

March 4 – Ag Technologies, Miami – Contact Michael Wilkes, County Extension Agent-AG, 806-868-3191.

March 4 - Agricultural Applications of Tablets and Smartphones, Amarillo - contact DeDe Jones, 806-677-5667.

March 5 – Yellow Herbicides – Back to the Basics, Seminole – Contact Terry Millican, County Extension Agent-AG, 432-758-4006.

      March 6 – Feed Grains, Dimmitt – Contact Nancy Andersen, County Extension Agent-AG, 806-647-4115.

      March 19 – Resistant Weed Meeting, Floyd County Office, Floydada – Contact County Extension Office at 806-983-4912.

      March 21 – Pre-Plant Cotton Workshop, New Home – Contact Bryan Reynolds, County Extension Agent-AG, 806-561-4562.

      March 24 – Pre-Plant Cotton Meeting, Lamesa – Contact Gary Roschetzky, County Extension Agent-AG, 806-872-3444.

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 and ask for Mary Jane Buerkle, or email A complete list of conferences is available at




PCG's 57th Annual Meeting

Friday, April 4

Lubbock Memorial Civic Center

9 a.m.-Noon


Keynote Speaker: Bruce Vincent

Sponsored by Farmers Cooperative Compress


COTTON USA in Fashion in London

February 2014             From Cotton Council International

      Cotton Council International selected design duo palmer//harding for its prestigious COTTON USA London Fashion Week sponsorship. COTTON USA's support of fashion designers communicates U.S. cotton's quality, versatility and high fashion credentials to consumers.

      Before the show, COTTON USA secured two competitions with Marie Claire (readership: 1 million) and In Style UK (readership: 350,000) to win tickets to the presentation event.

      The presentation was a huge success, with international buyers representing retailers such as Bergdorf Goodman, House of Fraser, Neiman Marcus and My Wardrobe, and included 72 journalists with a combined readership of 509.6 million.

      Some top tier media attendees include: BBC News Online (readership: 52 million), Vogue (readership: 1.7 million), The Daily Telegraph (readership: 550,000), Tank (readership: 60,000) and Elle UK (readership: 550,000).

      To further promote the benefits of using premium U.S. cotton within the fashion industry, COTTON USA will run a post-show competition with Stylist readers offering the chance to meet the designers and win an exclusive garment designed by palmer//harding made using U.S. cotton fabric.

      COTTON USA also produced an online video featuring an exclusive interview with Levi Palmer and Matthew Harding and footage from their Autumn/Winter 2014 collection at London Fashion Week.