Preparation Begins for High Plains Harvest

Friday, October 3, 2014               By Mary Jane Buerkle

      By the time October comes around, cotton harvest usually has begun on the Texas High Plains, but this year, multiple variables including a later start, late-season cool weather and even rainfall have delayed the process.

      A few producers already have begun applying harvest-aid chemicals to begin defoliation, although activity is expected to increase over the next week or two. The delays could lead many producers to simply wait for a freeze to finish out their crop.

      For producers considering harvest-aid applications, the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service has made their 2014 High Plains and Northern Rolling Plains Cotton Harvest-Aid Guide available. A link to the guide is at

      No one can argue the need for rainfall after the last three drought-stricken years, and it certainly has been welcome. However, the late-season precipitation on a crop that already was delayed has caused regrowth in many fields across the region, which can make defoliation difficult. Experts note that there are products and tools available to attack regrowth, but the new plant material won't completely disappear and could impact quality, especially trash.

      Warmer weather over the last couple of weeks has been encouraging for the final stages of boll maturity, but PCG's Steve Verett said that the next few weeks also will be critical when it comes to cotton quality.

      "The quality of what we harvest is going to be more dependent on the next two to three weeks, than what's happened the last two to three weeks," Verett said.

      At press time, the 7-day weather forecast calls for high temperatures in the upper 70's and 80's, lows in the 50's, and a slight chance for rainfall beginning on Wednesday.


United States, Brazil Reach Agreement

on WTO Cotton Case

Friday, October 3, 2014                       By Mary Jane Buerkle

      The United States and Brazil reached an agreement on Wednesday to end a longtime dispute over export credits and cotton policies. In the agreement, the U.S. will pay the Brazil Cotton Institute a one-time contribution of $300 million, and Brazil will drop all of their claims against the U.S., and not bring any further World Trade Organization claims during the life of the current five-year Farm Bill.

      In 2004, the WTO deemed the U.S. cotton program illegal and trade-distorting after a complaint from the Brazilian government filed in 2002. Brazil threatened to impose $830 million in sanctions on U.S. companies and products, but agreed to suspend that penalty after the U.S. agreed to pay $147 million per year into an assistance fund for Brazilian cotton farmers. That funding ceased late last year amidst Congressional budget disagreements, and Brazil had threatened again to retaliate.

      The U.S. cotton industry has diligently worked to resolve the case over the past several years, and PCG Executive Vice President Steve Verett noted that it is largely because of this case that the cotton program in the 2014 Farm Bill is structurally different than other commodities.

      "Crop insurance is now the backbone of our safety net for cotton, and we have addressed the WTO's concerns stemming from the Brazil case," Verett said. "We are pleased to finally see a resolution to this case and appreciate the efforts of all involved."

      The complete Memorandum of Understanding between the U.S. and Brazil can be found online at


Efforts to Encourage APH Adjustment

Implementation Continue

Friday, October 3, 2014                             By Shawn Wade

      Among the most important parts of the 2014 Farm Bill were the changes mandated by Congress to the federal crop insurance program. A majority of these changes, including one that will allow growers to adjust their Actual Production History (APH) yields to offset the impact of drought that devastated cotton and other crops throughout Texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico over the past three growing seasons, were intended to be implemented and available to producers in time for the 2015 growing season.

      Despite Congressional intent, the USDA Risk Management Agency has repeatedly reported that it would be unable to implement all of the farm bill provisions and that the APH adjustment, considered the most important to drought impacted growers, was among the items that would be delayed until 2016.

      Efforts to persuade RMA to focus additional effort toward implementing the APH provision for 2015 have been a priority item for Plains Cotton Growers since passage of the farm bill earlier this year. In addition to direct contact, PCG has also joined with other commodity groups through the Southwest Council of Agribusiness to highlight the issue with RMA.

      PCG has communicated the importance of the provision directly to RMA representatives in Washington, DC and Kansas City, MO, as well as working with key members of Congress to highlight the importance of getting the APH provision implemented for 2015.

      Drought reduced APH yields, coupled with the recent drop in cotton prices that threatens to further decrease insurance coverage by an additional 20 percent or more, have growers concerned about their ability to secure adequate levels of risk protection via crop insurance in 2015.

      "We continue to press the USDA Risk Management Agency on the issue of implementing the APH adjustment provision at every opportunity and through every means possible," PCG Executive Vice President Steve Verett said. "The window for getting the provision implemented in time to benefit cotton producers in 2015 has not closed, but the time for RMA to act is now."


Field Day, Farm Bill Meetings Scheduled

      Mark your calendars for the following field day and Farm Bill meetings:

      Oct. 10 – FiberMax/Stoneville – Idalou Field Day, 10:30 a.m.-1 p.m, Evitt Farm (lunch served). More info: Tim Culpepper, (806) 789-6593 or Kenny Melton, (806) 786-5088. 

      Oct. 10 - Farm Bill Decision Aid Tool Meeting, 8-11 a.m., South Plains College Sundown Room - Student Center, 1401 College Avenue, Levelland. Full complimentary breakfast hosted by the Levelland Chamber Ag Committee. More info: (806) 894-3159.

      Oct. 10 - Farm Bill Decision Aid Training for Crop Insurance Agents, 8:30-11:30 a.m. OR 1:30-4:30 p.m., Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center, 6500 W. Amarillo Blvd., Amarillo. More info: (806) 677-5667.

      Oct. 21 - Farm Bill Decision Aid Tool Meeting, 9 a.m.-Noon., RSVP Computer Lab, 321 SW 2nd, Tulia. More info: (806) 995-3726.

      Oct. 22 - Farm Bill Decision Aid Tool Meeting, 9-11 a.m., Cochran Activity Building, 200 W. Taylor, Morton. More info: (806) 266-5215.

      Oct. 29 - Farm Bill Decision Aid Tool Meeting, 9-11 a.m., Lighthouse Electric Cooperative, Floydada (corner of Hwy 70 and Hwy 207). More info: (806) 983-4912.

      If you have a field day or Farm Bill meeting you would like to add to this schedule, please call Mary Jane Buerkle at (806) 792-4904 or email

      An updated list of all of these meetings is available online at


2014 High Plains and Northern Rolling Plains

Cotton Harvest-Aid Guide

Now Available at


PCG Board of Directors To Meet October 8

Friday, October 3, 2014                 By Mary Jane Buerkle

      The next regular meeting of the Board of Directors for Plains Cotton Growers, Inc. will begin at 9 a.m. Wednesday, October 8, at the Bayer Museum of Agriculture, located at 1121 Canyon Lake Drive in Lubbock. Lunch will be served at the conclusion of the meeting.

      Anthony Tancredi, CEO of Allenberg Cotton Co., will give a cotton market report and Craig Brown with the National Cotton Council will give a legislative update. Dr. Steve Lyons, meteorologist-in-charge for the National Weather Service in San Angelo, will provide a weather outlook. Dr. Lyons has had several interesting jobs over the years, including 12 seasons at The Weather Channel as their severe weather and hurricane expert.

      Other items include 2015 Business Director Nominations, the Nominating Committee Election and an update on the status of PCG finances through the first three months of the fiscal year.

      For more information, contact PCG at (806) 792-4904.


FSA Announces Key Dates for New

2014 Farm Bill Safety Net Programs

      USDA announced key dates for farm owners and producers to keep in mind regarding the new 2014 Farm Bill established programs, Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC). The new programs, designed to help producers better manage risk, usher in one of the most significant reforms to U.S. farm programs in decades.

      Dates associated with ARC and PLC that farm owners and producers need to know:

      Sept. 29, 2014 to Feb. 27, 2015: Land owners may visit their local Farm Service Agency office to update yield history and/or reallocate base acres.

      Nov. 17, 2014 to March 31, 2015: Producers make a one-time election of either ARC or PLC for the 2014 through 2018 crop years.

      Mid-April 2015 through summer 2015: Producers sign contracts for 2014 and 2015 crop years.

      October 2015: Payments for 2014 crop year, if needed.

      USDA leaders will visit with producers across the country to share information and answer questions on the ARC and PLC programs.

      USDA helped create online tools to assist in the decision process, allowing farm owners and producers to enter information about their operation and see projections that show what ARC and/or PLC will mean for them under possible future scenarios. The new tools are now available at Farm owners and producers can access the online resources from the convenience of their home computer or mobile device at any time.

      Covered commodities include barley, canola, large and small chickpeas, corn, crambe, flaxseed, grain sorghum, lentils, mustard seed, oats, peanuts, dry peas, rapeseed, long grain rice, medium grain rice (which includes short grain rice), safflower seed, sesame, soybeans, sunflower seed and wheat. Upland cotton is no longer a covered commodity.

      Producers can contact their local FSA office for more information or to schedule an appointment.


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