Plains Cotton Growers Reaches Milestone

Friday, May 23, 2014                           By Mary Jane Buerkle

      The 2013 crop is officially in the books for Plains Cotton Growers as an organization, and the support level from member gins is at an all-time high, with PCG representing 95.34% of the cotton produced in its 41-county service area.

      Plains Cotton Growers is funded primarily by member cotton gins whose dues are figured on a per-bale basis. Additional dues come from cotton warehouses, cottonseed oil mills, banks, and agribusinesses.

      "This milestone represents the confidence our members place in us as an organization," PCG Executive Vice President Steve Verett said. "It means that our volunteers and staff have worked together to make membership in Plains Cotton Growers something that is of great benefit to cotton growers, ginners, and others throughout the industry chain."

      Larry Nelson, past president of PCG and president of Windstar Inc., which has cotton gins and grain elevators in the central and northern parts of the PCG service area, recalled when 50 percent was a milestone for the organization. The support level has steadily increased over the past 20 years.

      "I am so pleased that we've now gotten to the level we have," Nelson said. "Plains Cotton Growers has provided tremendous leadership in various important issues that we've had to deal with, such as (crop) insurance and the boll weevil eradication program. Those are just two of the immediate things that come to mind that have brought many times more the value of what we've given in dues."

      Both Nelson and Meadow Co-op Gin manager Dan Jackson said that PCG's input into developing farm programs has been vital to their customers and the industry.

      "PCG is a great regional organization, but has expanded its reach to represent us on a national scale, especially with the creation of the Southwest Council of Agribusiness," Jackson said. "That is an incredible value for us and our producers."

      Johnny Anderson, who handles producer relations for PCG, visits each gin at least once a month, and has logged more than a million miles on the road during his 28 years with the organization. Jackson said those visits add a "personal touch" to PCG's service.

      "Johnny is constantly keeping us updated on what's going on with the farm bill and other issues in the industry," Jackson said. "When he comes in and just sits down and visits with me and my customers, that means a lot."

      Verett said the organization will continue to tackle important issues facing the industry and provide the ultimate value for its members.

      "We'll keep doing what we do each and every day, and that's concentrate on our core competencies – research, legislation, promotion, and service," Verett said.


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Beneficial Rainfall Boosts High Plains Cotton

Friday, May 23, 2014                           By Mary Jane Buerkle

      It's often said that holidays and graduations tend to bring rain events, and that point was proven this week as the clouds opened to pour beneficial precipitation over much of the PCG service area.

      As of press time, some portions of Crosby County had received almost five inches of rain. The West Texas Mesonet station nine miles north-northeast of Amarillo had recorded just more than two inches of rain as of 10:45 a.m. Friday.

      However, producers in counties to the south and west of Lubbock were still waiting for their precipitation. The Mesonet stations at Lamesa and Seminole both were still dry at press time.

      "For much of our area, this is the slow, steady, widespread rainfall we have prayed for," PCG Executive Vice President Steve Verett said. "We just continue to pray that our entire region will see much-needed precipitation, particularly in our southern parts where the cotton acreage is predominantly dryland."

      Weather forecasts as of now include rainfall chances of at least 40 percent through Sunday, according to the National Weather Service.


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Drought, Prices Contribute to Payment for

Dryland Cotton in 2013 ACRE Program

Friday, May 23, 2014 By Jay Yates, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension

      Dryland cotton farmers in Texas who signed up for the 2013 crop year ACRE program and meet the farm level trigger criteria should expect to receive the maximum payment for their acreage due to continued drought and lower prices. ACRE payments will be made on planted acreage up to the limit of 85% of total cotton base acres on the farm.

      The latest USDA estimate of market year average prices used to calculate ACRE payments was released on May 13 on the USDA-FSA website. The 2013-14 Market Year Average (MYA) Price for cotton is estimated to be $0.7750. Also released this month was the final cotton production numbers by practice. Statewide, dryland cotton averaged a yield of 179 pounds per planted acre, while irrigated averaged 745 pounds per planted acre.

      The low dryland yield and price combined to give an average Texas state revenue figure of only $138.73, well below the state benchmark of $199.51. Since payments are capped at 25% of the state benchmark, a maximum payment of $49.88 per acre is indicated. The statewide irrigated yield was high enough to generate an average income of $577.38, which was slightly higher than the state benchmark of $536.91, eliminating the possibility of a payment on irrigated acres.

      The actual payment received by producers is dependent on the farm's productivity factor, which is calculated by dividing the individual farm Olympic average yield for the period 2008-12 by the state average yield of 200 pounds. This figure times the payment rate ($49.88 for NI cotton) times planted acres (up to 85% of total base acres) gives the producer's total payment for the farm.

      The payment limit for ACRE is $65,000 plus any amount of direct payments given up to participate. Additionally, the sequestration rate for FY2014 of 7.2% will be applied to all 2013 ACRE payments (according to a USDA press release dated 11/15/2013).



HPWD Board of Directors Encourage Public Comment

on Proposed Revisions to Rule 5

Friday, May 23, 2014         From the High Plains Water District

      "Our Board is just one step away from being able to adopt a revised set of rules related to water use," says High Plains Water District (HPWD) Board President Lynn Tate of Amarillo.

      "Before we ratify these changes, we want the public to comment and weigh in on the proposed Rule 5. As always, our top priorities throughout this process have been to conserve water and to protect private property rights," he said.

      HPWD has encouraged input to the rules writing process since the project began in November of last year. 

      "We worked with commodity groups, individual crop and livestock growers, our District's County Advisory Committees, municipal users, city managers and others as we sought to understand every perspective on these rules," Tate reports. "Now that we have the rules drafted, we'll seek final input from the community through the summer."

      In an effort to promote conservation of underground water resources without intruding on private property rights, the proposed Rule 5 accommodates a wide variety of approaches in crop and livestock production. 

      The Board believes the proposed Rule 5 will further the management goals for all the aquifers in the District. The Rule includes an Allowable Production Rate for wells, groundwater reserve provisions, and recording and reporting options. 

      A draft of the complete proposed Rule 5 document is available at

      According to Tate, the Board is also taking a look at the broader rules document, which includes definitions and provisions related to other aspects of the District's mission. HPWD rules were last amended November 12, 2013.

      "As a board, we're eager to fulfill the mission of the water district and the vision of the 10-Year Amended Management Plan with rules that provide a reasonable and practical framework for water users. We're glad we've taken the time we have with Rule 5 and will be deliberate as we consider the other provisions in our Rules," Tate concludes.

      Created in 1951 by local residents and the Texas Legislature, the High Plains Water District is charged with conserving, preserving, protecting and preventing waste of groundwater within its 16-county service area.




Allowable Production Rate

       Beginning January 1, 2015, the allowable production rate per contiguous acre will be 1.50 acre-feet (18") per year.

       A contiguous acre may be counted only 1 time.

Conservation Reserve

       A well owner or operator may reserve all or a portion of their annual Allowable Production Rate by adhering to prescribed application and reporting requirements. Beginning on January 1, 2015, eligible well owners or operators shall have an initial groundwater reserve of 0.50 acre feet (6") per acre.

Recording and Reporting by Owner or Operator

Options include but are not limited to:

       Meters measuring aggregate production from well systems, individual wells, sprinklers or drip systems.

       One Irrigated Crop planted and harvested in a calendar year. Conservation cover crops are allowed. Second crops are allowable in case of crop loss to weather.

       Energy Consumption Records.

       Nozzle Packages measuring flow rates and hours of use.
o Alternative data gathering devices such as PivoTrac, AgSense or WagNet.

       CAFO multiplier formula based on gallons per head per day.

       Contiguous acres with production rates of less than .93 gallons per minute per acre will be deemed unable to exceed the Allowable Production Rate. Once verified by the District, they are exempt from reporting.

       Other reporting methods may be considered through an application process.

Optional Meter Installation and Sealing

       If any owner or operator chooses to report through the use of meters, they will be responsible for the purchase, installation, operation, maintenance and repair of meters associated with a well or well system. Meter readings shall be recorded and groundwater production reported as required by District Rules.

       District staff may inspect and seal meters.

Production Reports

       Meter readings or readings from alternative measuring methods must be recorded prior to January 15 of each year and be included in the District-approved production report submitted to the District no later than March 1 of each calendar year.