NASS: High Plains Projected to Produce

4.4 Million Bales in 2014

Friday, August 15, 2014                          By Mary Jane Buerkle

      The first survey-based estimate from the National Agricultural Statistics Service confirmed the cautious optimism felt by many in the cotton industry for the first time in three years with regard to production, pegging the 2014 High Plains crop at 4.4 million bales, harvested from 3.28 million acres.

      Their number reflects a 20 percent abandonment rate, which is about average for the area. This time last year, the abandonment rate already was estimated at 50 percent.

      If that number holds, it would be an 80 percent increase from the 2.45 million bales produced in the 2013 crop.

      "Based on what we're hearing from our members, we believe this initial estimate may be a bit high," PCG Executive Vice President Steve Verett said. "Our information at this point does not indicate anything better than an average crop, which is about 3.9 million bales."

      Statewide, the NASS report estimates that Texas growers will produce 7.1 million bales of cotton from 5.4 million acres harvested. In 2013, 4.17 million bales of cotton were produced in Texas.

      Yield per acre is estimated at 775 pounds per acre in the northern counties of the PCG service area, and 611 pounds per acre in the southern counties. Statewide yield is estimated to be 631 pounds per acre.

      NASS estimates that the United States will produce 17.5 million bales of cotton, up 36 percent from 2013.


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High Plains Water District Board Approves

Changes to Rules and Management Plan

Friday, August 15, 2014                         By Mary Jane Buerkle

      Years of debate and discussion on how to best balance the need to conserve water while protecting property rights culminated on Tuesday as the board of the High Plains Underground Water Conservation District No. 1 voted unanimously to approve new water conservation rules and a new 10-year Management Plan for the district.

      The rule most in contention was Rule 5, which addresses the district's Desired Future Condition, a management goal mandated by the state. The District adopted a DFC of 50-50 in 2010, which means the goal is to have 50 percent of the saturated thickness of the Ogallala Aquifer in 2010 available for use in 2060. The amended Rule 5 goes into effect on January 1, 2015. The rest of the rules are effective immediately.

      Rule 5, as approved, institutes a production limit on non-exempt wells drawing groundwater from any aquifer of the district of 18 inches per contiguous acre per year. However, meters are not required, and producers may report via several methods which include planting one irrigated crop per acre per year; submitting energy consumption records; and installing nozzle packages measuring flow rates and hours of use.

      Plains Cotton Growers was the first commodity group in the HPWD service area to publicly support the rule amendments, with a unanimous vote by the board at their July meeting. Chairman Craig Heinrich said that the rules are "reasonable" and offer multiple options for individual producers to meet their operations' needs. Others praised the District for their transparency throughout the process and the open dialogue between constituents, board and staff.

      "We believe the proposed rules will allow peanut producers greater flexibility in reporting their water usage compared to previous rules in order to meet the management goals established by the District," Texas Peanut Producers Board Executive Director Shelly Nutt said at a recent HPWD hearing in Levelland. "It is exceedingly important to continually recognize and maintain local management of groundwater resources by locally elected officials of groundwater conservation districts."

      Now the focus will turn to implementation, and HPWD board president Lynn Tate said the board will host county advisory committee meetings and visiting with interested individuals to answer questions. A "Frequently Asked Questions" page also is available on the HPWD web site,, along with downloadable copies of the new Rules and Management Plan. 


Cotton Transition Assistance Program

Enrollment Begins

      Farmers can enroll in the Cotton Transition Assistance Program (CTAP) from now through Oct. 7, 2014.

      The program, created by the 2014 Farm Bill, provides interim payments to cotton producers during the 2014 crop year until the Stacked Income Protection Plan, a new insurance product also created by the legislation, is available. Details on the plan will be released by mid-August.

      CTAP applications approved before Oct. 1, are subject to congressionally mandated automatic reductions of 7.2 percent for the 2014 crop year. Applications approved after Oct. 1 will be reduced by the required 7.3 percent for the 2015 crop year. The Budget Control Act of 2011 requires USDA to implement these reductions to program payments.  

      For more information about CTAP, visit a local FSA office or go online to


The Seam Names Kevin Brinkley

Incoming Chairman and CEO

      The Seam recently announced the retirement of Phillip Burnett as its Chairman and CEO. Kevin Brinkley, Senior Vice President of Marketing and Business Development for The Seam, will succeed Burnett following his retirement on January 1, 2015.

      Board member Wally Darneille, CEO of Plains Cotton Cooperative Association, spoke on behalf of The Seam's board. "Phil Burnett has provided outstanding leadership for The Seam during its first 14 years. Since its founding, Phil has guided the company's strategy and helped broaden its services and market coverage. Phil and Kevin have worked very closely together, and we are very pleased that Kevin is prepared to take the helm as we move forward."

      Since joining The Seam in 2000, Brinkley has spearheaded the company's strategy for product and service delivery, most notably its online commodity and food trading platforms, commodity loan management, and contract management. Prior to joining The Seam, he was an economist for the National Cotton Council of America.

      "The Seam has transformed commodity and food trading capabilities with technologies that expand markets beyond the limits of conventional trading. I am honored to have been trusted to lead the company," Brinkley said. "The Seam has tremendous opportunities ahead. We will continue to innovate markets and create profitable solutions for industries scrambling to navigate today's uncertain agricultural landscape."

      Phillip Burnett will continue to serve as a board member and consultant for the company. Under Burnett's leadership, The Seam has become a globally recognized agricultural technology and exchange provider. Among his many significant accomplishments, Burnett helped the United States Department of Agriculture develop innovative new ways to trade its surplus commodities by moving the processes online, a first for the federal government. Burnett previously served as the President and CEO of both the National Cotton Council of America and the Cotton Board.

      The Seam¨, founded by leading global agribusiness companies, began operating the world's first fully online neutral exchanges for cotton trading in December 2000. Since that time, the company has added other commodities such as grains, peanuts, and dairy to its trading platforms. The Seam also delivers food trading platforms for major manufacturers and reverse auction procurement systems for USDA.


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NRCS to Host Local Work Group Meetings

      The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Soil and Water Conservation Districts will host Local Work Group meetings. The purpose of the public meetings is to receive input from farmers, ranchers, local agencies, organizations, local agricultural leaders, businesses, and other individuals with an interest in natural resource concerns.

      Area meetings coming up are as follows:

      August 18 – 8:00 a.m., USDA Service Center, 312 Williard Avenue, Spur

      August 19 – 7:30 a.m., KNT CafŽ, 123 Commerical St.(HWY 60), Miami

      August 19 – 8 a.m., USDA Service Center, 200 West Taylor, Morton

      August 19 – 1 p.m, USDA Service Center, 1301 South Main, Seminole

      August 19 – 2 p.m., USDA Service Center NRCS Field Office, U.S. Highway 287 East, Claude

      August 19 – 6 p.m, USDA Service Center, 814 South 2nd St., Suite B, Canadian

      August 20 – 8 a.m, USDA Service Center, 221 Euclid Street, Panhandle

      August 20 – 1 p.m., Tulia USDA-NRCS Office, 215 NW 2nd Street, Tulia

      August 20 – 1:30 p.m., PYCO Industries, 2901 Ave. A, Lubbock

      For more information, contact the local USDA-NRCS office in your county, or access the information on the Texas NRCS website at


Next Week:

Students Graduate from Texas International

Cotton School

Upcoming Area Field Days