Decisions Loom for Some High Plains Farmers

Friday, June 13, 2014                          By Mary Jane Buerkle

      Strong storms have brought beneficial rainfall but also damage to some young High Plains cotton plants just doing their best to get established.

      Large hail and extremely high winds – in some areas exceeding 90 miles per hour – overturned pivots and flattened fields in several portions of the PCG service area. Parmer County reportedly will lose about 30 percent of their crop to hail, and significant damage also has been reported in several other counties.

      Cooler temperatures and lack of rainfall in May have delayed much of the 2014 crop across the area, but overall, the year is shaping up to be more of what could be considered a "typical" year, at least compared to the last three.

      "June is always just such a tenuous month, and by the Fourth of July, we typically know what we have by then and the weather begins to settle out," PCG Executive Vice President Steve Verett said.

      The cooler temperatures also are contributing to seedling disease in some fields, although the issue is not localized to any particular region. Even after it becomes apparent what cotton will recover from disease, it will be too early to determine yield impact. Late summer and early fall temperatures also will be a determining factor.

      Once damaged cotton acreage is assessed and released, producers will be making decisions on whether to replant back to cotton, if there is time to do so, or going to an uninsured secondary crop such as sorghum or even late corn. The current upland cotton loss adjustment procedure requires appraisals be delayed seven days when the damage is caused by hail or blowing sand.

      As of press time, the weather forecast for the High Plains area included chances for additional severe weather events.

      "Although the amount of rain in some areas in this relatively short time has created problems for producers and the potential for crop loss, it has been nice to see what seems to be a changing weather pattern to one that is more typical for this time of year," Verett said. "This precipitation certainly is beneficial over the long term."

      In policy news, several harmful Farm Bill and crop insurance amendments in the Agriculture Appropriations Bill were defeated this week in the U.S. House of Representatives. All other action on the bill has been postponed to later in the summer.

      "We want to thank our friends who continue to stand with agriculture and who understand how devastating these amendments could have been to our industry," Verett said. "Many of them already had been considered on the House Floor during the Farm Bill debate and were rejected, so it is obvious that our livelihoods remain under attack from those who don't get what it takes to feed and clothe this nation and the world."


PCCA Announces Sale of Textile And

Apparel Division

Friday, June 6, 2014    From Plains Cotton Cooperative Association

      Plains Cotton Cooperative Association, headquartered in Lubbock, on June 6 announced the sale of its Textile and Apparel Division to American Textile Holdings, LLC, (AmTex). AmTex assumed control of all the operations of the American Cotton Growers denim mill in Littlefield, and Denimatrix S.A. in Guatemala City, Guatemala, effective June 6. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

      "We are very pleased that we have been able to conclude this transaction with AmTex," said PCCA President & CEO Wally Darneille. "They bring new capital, fresh ideas, and a broad customer list which will offer opportunities for the people employed at those facilities. We will collaborate with them through the provision of computer hardware and software, accounting, and other services, and we wish them great success."

      AmTex will be a leading designer and manufacturer of both denim fabric and denim apparel products. The company will convert raw cotton into denim fabric at ACG and convert the fabric into finished jeans at Denimatrix. AmTex will employ more than 2,200 associates at the two facilities and will run one of the largest denim manufacturing operations in the Western Hemisphere.

      "PCCA looks forward to refocusing our efforts on our core businesses of cotton marketing, warehousing and software services for our members and customers," Darneille said. PCCA is one of the largest originators of U.S. cotton to textile mills around the world.


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Cotton Board Confirms $80 Million Research

and Promotion Budget

Friday, June 13, 2014                          From The Cotton Board

      The Cotton Incorporated Board of Directors recently gathered for their June Meeting in Dallas, TX, and began discussions about its 2015 budget. The Cotton Board's Executive Committee was also in attendance and confirmed funding for the 2015 Research and Promotion Program at a level of $80 million, despite an expected decrease in total collections.

      "The Cotton Board is drawing from our reserves in order to maintain funding at $80 million because we believe it is important to maintain the program at this level given the challenges cotton is facing," Cotton Board Chairman Gary Ross, an Importer from Yardley, PA, said.

      In his address to the Cotton Incorporated board, Chairman Ross underlined the challenges cotton is facing and the need for industry unity.

      "We need the power of one. It is a critical time for the Cotton Research and Promotion Program," Ross said. "Cotton demand is not where we need it to be and there is no quick or easy path that guarantees a quick turn-around. Now, more than ever, we need our boards to question, reflect, and encourage each other to find better ideas and better solutions than we had yesterday."

      Ross encouraged the organizations to act boldly.      

      "We need to continue to create an environment where we can discuss positive and not-so-positive returns. Sometimes, home run hitters strike out. We need our team to go to the plate and swing as hard as they can - to swing for the fences. Our industry cannot afford to take a pitch or walk. Tough times do not last forever, but tough people do. I am proud of the cooperative spirit between The Cotton Board and Cotton Incorporated."

      The two boards will meet in August to finalize the 2015 budget before The Cotton Board sends its recommendation for budget approval to the Secretary of Agriculture. 


Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service

Graduates Lifetime Leaders

Thursday, June 12, 2014               From the TALL Program

      Lawyers, farmers, bankers, ranchers and agriculture-related industry representatives banded together for two years with one aim: learn to be leaders. Their intensive study of agriculture worldwide culminated this month when their Texas Agriculture Lifetime Leadership XIII class graduated at a ceremony in College Station.

      "The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service administers the program known as TALL, which focuses on local, state, national and international issues to help ensure effective understanding and encourage positive action that will advance the agriculture industry," said Dr. Jim Mazurkiewicz, program director.

      This class — the 13th since the program started — traveled extensively, including a trip to Brazil to learn about the impact of agriculture worldwide.

      "The program has truly broadened my perspective on many production, political and social issues impacting agriculture, which will help me be a stronger leader and spokesman for this great industry," said Lindsay Kennedy of Lubbock. "The TALL program is making a lasting impact not only in the lives of its participants, but on Texas and American agriculture as a whole."

      Graduates and their hometowns are:

      Casey Cook and Wade King – Amarillo; Jesse Womack III – Austin;  Kevin Proctor – Ben Wheeler; Jason Avent – Canyon; Jon Mixson – Corpus Christi; Debra Barrett – Edroy; Linda Jordens Galayda – Elkhart; Brady Miller –Groom; Heath Hill – Gruver; Kelley Sullivan – Houston; Kody Bessent, Mary Jane Buerkle, Shelley Heinrich, Lindsay Kennedy and Eric Wanjura – Lubbock; Matthew Tyler – Malakoff; Kelly Kettner and Joe Osterkamp – Muleshoe; Sally Oglesby Harris – Ozona; Brant Mettler – Sanger; and Bryan Clift – Stratford.

      Also Brandon Grooms and Jeremy Seiger  – Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; and Mark Slavens – Dublin, Ohio.


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Farm Service Agency County Committee

Nomination Period Begins June 15

Friday, June 6, 2014                From the Farm Service Agency

      Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced today that the nomination period for local Farm Service Agency county committees begins Sunday, June 15, 2014.

      "County committees are a vital link between the farm community and the U.S. Department of Agriculture," said Vilsack. "I hope that every eligible farmer and rancher will participate in this year's county committee elections. Through the county committees, farmers and ranchers have a voice; their opinions and ideas get to be heard on federal farm programs."

      Vilsack added, "We've seen an increase in the number of nominations of women and minority candidates, and I hope that trend continues."

      To be eligible to serve on an FSA county committee, a person must participate or cooperate in a program administered by FSA, be eligible to vote in a county committee election and reside in the local administrative area where the person is nominated.

      Farmers and ranchers may nominate themselves or others. Organizations representing minorities and women also may nominate candidates. To become a candidate, an eligible individual must sign the nomination form, FSA-669A. The form and other information about FSA county committee elections are available at Nomination forms for the 2014 election must be postmarked or received in the local USDA Service Center by close of business on Aug. 1, 2014. Elections will take place this fall.

      While FSA county committees do not approve or deny farm ownership or operating loans, they make decisions on disaster and conservation programs, emergency programs, commodity price support loan programs and other agricultural issues. Members serve three-year terms. Nationwide, there are about 7,800 farmers and ranchers serving on FSA county committees. Committees consist of three to 11 members that are elected by eligible producers.

      FSA will mail ballots to eligible voters beginning Nov. 3, 2014. Ballots are due back to the local county office either via mail or in person by Dec. 1, 2014. Newly elected committee members and alternates take office on Jan. 1, 2015.

      USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.