Agriculture Advocate Bruce Vincent to

Keynote PCG Annual Meeting April 4

Friday, March 28, 2014                     By Mary Jane Buerkle

      Plains Cotton Growers, Inc., will host their 57th Annual Meeting on Friday, April 4, 2014 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 3-4, 2014, in Lubbock.

      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. An award recognizing the 2013 High Plains Cotton Agent of the Year also will be presented at the meeting.

      Farmers Cooperative Compress will present keynote speaker Bruce Vincent, a third generation logger from Libby, Montana. During the past 20 years, he has given motivational speeches throughout the United States and the world, has testified on natural resource issues before Congress and has appeared on several news programs such as "60 Minutes." Bruce has been named Timberman of the Year in Montana, National Forest Activist of the Year, the Agri-Women's 2007 Veritas Award Winner, and in 2004 received the inaugural Presidential Preserve America Award from President Bush. His current activities represent a family commitment to responsible environmentalism. His program is titled, "With Vision, There is Hope." For more information on Bruce Vincent, visit http://www.brucevincentspeaking.com.

      John Maguire, Vice President-Washington Operations for the National Cotton Council, will update attendees on the 2014 Farm Bill and other Washington activities. Steve Uryasz with Texas Tech Athletics will discuss the 2014 Celebrate Cotton game, and reveal details about this year's event. Brandon Willis, administrator for the Risk Management Agency, will discuss the 2014 Farm Bill implementation process from both an RMA and FSA perspective.

      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 and the Annual Meeting can be found online at http://www.plainscotton.org.

 

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Cotton Board Gin Show Booth

Highlights Denim Recycling Program

Friday, March 28, 2014                     From The Cotton Board

      The Cotton Board will be hosting a booth at the Texas Cotton Ginners Association's 107th Annual Meeting and Cotton Trade Show is scheduled for April 3 and 4 at the Lubbock Memorial Civic Center. - and we want your used denim! The Cotton Board's Regional Communications Managers will hold a Blue Jeans Go Green denim drive where each piece of donated denim earns a chance to win a $250 gift card from Cabela's – World Foremost Outfitters.

      "We're asking visitors to the Gin Show to bring their old denim, no matter what shape it's in," explains Brad Robb, The Cotton Board's Vice President of Communications. After the show, the denim will be converted into UltraTouch™ insulation by Bonded Logic, a leading manufacturer of natural fiber insulation. The insulation will then be provided to building organizations working in communities in need - often in area affected by natural disasters.

      The Cotton Board's booth, located just inside the north doors of the Exhibit Hall, will have bins where attendees can drop off their donated denim items and enter their chances to win. "We say 'chances to win' because for each piece of denim you donate, you get one entry. The more you bring, the more entries you get and the better your chances of winning," explains Bobby Skeen, Mid-South Regional Communications Manager for The Cotton Board.

      "We decided on a Cabela's gift card because they adopted an apparel finishing technology developed by Cotton Incorporated called 'STORM COTTON' and have applied the technology to a line of camouflage hoodies," explains Skeen.

      For more information about this exciting program, please visit http://www.BlueJeansGoGreen.org.

 

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USFWS Lists Lesser Prairie Chicken

as "Threatened" Species

Friday, March 28, 2014                             By Shawn Wade

      On Thursday, March 27, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced its decision to list the LEPC as a "threatened" species under the 1973 ESA after proposing the species for listing in late 2012. At the same time the USFWS also announced its final version of special rule under section 4(d) of the ESA that will provide specific exemptions and limit regulatory impacts on eligible landowners and businesses under the ESA.

      "The listing of the Lesser Prairie Chicken as a threatened species is unfortunate and brings with it the need for many aspects of agriculture in the five states to adapt to a new set of regulatory issues," Plains Cotton Growers Executive Vice President Steve Verett said.

      "The fact of the matter is that, while we appreciate the regulatory exemptions provided to cotton producers and the rest of the region's cultivated agriculture through the special 4(d) rule, there still is a significant need to ensure landowners that are directly impacted by this decision have the utmost flexibility to limit impacts on their operations and obtain regulatory predictability in regard to their ongoing agricultural operations," Verett said.

      For landowners operating farming and ranching operations within what is considered the estimated occupied range of the LEPC, the listing decision and the now final 4(d) rule will have variable impacts.

      Under 4(d) normal agricultural activities on cultivated cropland, which includes farms that produce row-crop commodities such as cotton as well as hay and forage crops, will be considered to be in compliance with the ESA, not subject to further regulation and exempt from penalties stemming from inadvertently harming or harassing LEPC or LEPC habitat.

      Landowners with range or grassland that is suitable LEPC habitat and located within the species' estimated occupied range are not directly covered by the 4(d) rule and are at much greater risk of running afoul of the ESA by directly or indirectly impacting LEPC populations. For these landowners the 4(d) special rule recognizes multiple programs in which they can participate to obtain regulatory predictability under the ESA, as well as protect their ability to continue all or most of ther current activities with relatively few adjustments.

      The quickest and easiest route to obtaining regulatory protection through the 4(d) rule is participating in the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service's "Working Lands for Wildlife" (WLFW) program. Under the WLFW program landowners can request and obtain no-cost technical assistance to develop and implement a conservation plan on their property.

      By agreeing to implement the conservation plan landowners receive regulatory predictability for up to exempting them from any incidental take of the LEPC on their property associated with the maintenance or implementation of the conservation practices listed in their plan.

      Landowners can also look into the potential benefits of participating in the NRCS Lesser Prairie Chicken Initiative that tailors other NRCS programs obtain conservation benefits beneficial to the LEPC.

      The no-cost WLFW program can provide landowners immediate protection and also allow them to weigh other options that can provide opportunities to earn additional income through the implementation of LEPC conservation practices.

      Two such programs are the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies' (WAFWA) range-wide conservation plan, which provides regulatory protection under the umbrella of the special 4(d) rule for both business and landowner participants, and the Stakeholder Conservation Strategy for the Lesser Prairie Chicken that has been submitted to the USFWS and is currently going through the review and approval process required by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) for issuance of a section 10 permit associated with an approved Habitat Conservation Plan.

      Over the coming months landowners will have an opportunity to weigh the pros and cons of each of these programs. During this process landowners are encouraged to determine which program provides them the best fit in terms of flexibility, income potential and regulatory and financial predictability.  

      Verett noted that if the USFWS will encourage appropriate financial incentives for voluntary conservation, minimize regulatory impacts on private landowners, and foster the development of multiple program options for landowners the agency will create a situation that can ultimately reverse the decline of the LEPC and eventually lead to its recovery and removal from the "threatened" species list.

 

Upcoming Farm Bill Meetings

Upcoming Area Ag Conferences

All on our website!

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Nomination Deadline Approaching for

NCC Emerging Leaders Program

      Those interested in nominating candidates for the National Cotton Council's Emerging Leaders Program should have names to Plains Cotton Growers no later than 5 p.m. Thursday, April 3. If you are interested in participating, or know someone who would be a good candidate, please call PCG at (806) 792-4904.

      The program, sponsored by a grant to The Cotton Foundation from Monsanto, is an effort aimed at ensuring the U.S. cotton industry benefits from a continuity of sound leadership.

      Among Emerging Leaders Program objectives will be to help participants gain a better understanding of: 1) the NCC's role, including its programs, policy development and implementation process; 2) Cotton Council International's role in developing and maintaining export markets for U.S. cotton, manufactured cotton products and cottonseed products; 3) the broad spectrum of issues that affect U.S. cotton's economic well-being; and 4) the U.S. political process. The program also will encourage participants to increase their involvement in these and other NCC activities.

      This leadership initiative also will focus on helping participants improve their communications skills, including presentation and business etiquette, instruction for engaging with the news media, and utilizing social media tools and tactics.

      Each class will consist of eight to 10 industry members and class members will participate in three sessions during the year.

      The first session will provide a NCC orientation, professional development/communication skills and a briefing on agribusiness. The second session will enable participants to see policy development at the NCC's Annual Meeting while the third session in Washington, D.C., will focus on policy implementation and international market development.

      There is no age limit for program candidates whose primary livelihood must be derived from at least one of the seven raw cotton industry segments. Nominations will be made by one of the following: a certified interest organization, NCC officer or NCC director. Selections will be made by the NCC chairman in consultation with the NCC President's office and NCC Member Services.