Optimism Up, Markets Down After

Significant Weekend Precipitation

Friday, May 30, 2014                           By Mary Jane Buerkle

      For many, smiles are a little brighter and planting activity is moving along a bit more quickly after weekend rainfall brought several inches of desperately needed moisture to much of the Plains Cotton Growers service area.

      According to West Texas Mesonet data, the most rain in the High Plains area fell near the Aiken station in northeastern Hale County, where 7.38 inches of rain was recorded from May 22-26. However, other unofficial sources reported up to 10 inches in some locations. Other area Mesonet stations recorded anywhere from less than an inch in Gaines and Andrews counties to more than six inches near Ralls and Slaton. The average across all Mesonet stations was about three inches for that time period.

      "Although this certainly was a timely rain event for much of our area, we did have some portions that unfortunately missed this one for the most part," PCG Executive Vice President Steve Verett said.

      Most of the storms over the weekend were not severe, but a few did produce small hail and high winds that caused some damage, forcing producers to replant.

      The cotton market reacted to the potential for Texas production by moving lower, with December futures trading at 77.59 at press time.

      "While we are thankful for every drop of rain, this event isn't a drought-breaker by any means," Verett said. "It will help us get this crop in the ground, and will give us the best opportunity for production since 2010, but we've got to have additional precipitation to help carry this crop through to harvest, barring any severe weather."  


USDA Awarding $6 Million to Prepare Farmers

for New Farm Bill Programs

      (USDA News Release) Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack recently announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture is awarding $6 million to universities and cooperative state extension services to develop online decision tools and other materials and train experts to educate producers about several key farm bill programs. The new Web tools will help farmers and ranchers determine what participation in programs established by the 2014 Farm Bill will mean for their businesses.

      The University of Illinois (lead for the National Coalition for Producer Education), along with the Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute at the University of Missouri and the Agricultural and Food Policy Center at Texas A&M (co-leads for the National Association of Agricultural and Food Policy), will receive a total of $3 million to develop the new online tools and train state-based extension agents who can in turn help educate farmers.

      The new resources will help farmers and ranchers make an educated choice between the new Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) program and the Price Loss Coverage (PLC) program. Using the new online tools, producers will be able to use data unique to their specific farming operations combined with factors like the geographical diversity of crops, soils, weather and climates across the country to test a variety of financial scenarios before officially signing up for the new program options later this year. Once a producer enrolls in the ARC or PLC program, he or she must remain in the program through the 2018 crop year.

      New tools will be provided for other programs as well. Sign-up for the newly established Margin Protection Program for Dairy begins late this summer and enrollment for "buy-up" provisions under the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program will begin early next year. An online MPP tool will be available when sign up begins and the NAP buy-up provision resource will become available to producers in the fall for the 2015 crop year.

      The University of Illinois, as well as FAPRI and AFPC will develop ARC and PLC Web tools. The University of Illinois will also develop the online resources for the MPP and NAP programs.

      USDA will also award $3 million to state cooperative extension services—a nationwide network of experts based at land-grant universities—for outreach and education on the new Farm Bill programs. Funds will be used to conduct public education outreach meetings where producers can speak with local extension agents and Farm Service Agency staff. Outreach meetings will begin late this summer to help farmers and ranchers understand the new programs and their options.

      While universities work to create new online tools, producers now have access to a preliminary website that gives them a chance to begin familiarizing themselves with the new programs and the type of information they will need to consider when deciding which program options work better for them. At this site, farmers and ranchers can view ARC and PLC projected payments, ARC guarantees, and PLC payment rate projections. These tables are available online at http://www.fsa.usda.gov/FSA/webapp?area=home&subject=arpl&topic=landing.

     Partners to Develop Web-based Decision Tools include:

      For the NCPE, University of Illinois as lead: Michigan State University, Montana State University, Watts & Associates, Delaware State University, University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, North Carolina A&T University, University of Wisconsin, Cornell University, Pennsylvania State University, Ohio State University, and University of Minnesota.

      For the NAAFP, FAPRI and AFPC as co-leads: Texas Tech University, University of Missouri, Iowa State University, University of Nebraska, Kansas State University, Mississippi State University, Oklahoma State University, Tennessee State University, University of Georgia, and Fresno State University.       View a list of funding for state extension services at http://www.usda.gov/documents/StateExtensionServicesFunding.pdf