PCG, SWCA, Others Continue Efforts

Toward APH Adjustment Implementation

Friday, October 17, 2014                     By Mary Jane Buerkle

      Support continues to build for implementing a key change mandated by Congress to the federal crop insurance program as part of the 2014 Farm Bill when it became law earlier this year.

      The key change allows growers to adjust their Actual Production History (APH) yields to offset the impact of drought that devastated cotton and other crops throughout Texas, Oklahoma, Colorado, Kansas, and New Mexico over the past three growing seasons. Producers can elect to exclude any yield from their APH database in years where the yield of their county or an adjacent county was 50% or lower than the 10-year average. However, USDA has repeatedly reported that it would be unable to implement all of the farm bill provisions and that the APH adjustment was among the items that would be delayed until 2016.

      Drought reduced APH yields, coupled with the recent drop in commodity 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.

      PCG Executive Vice President Steve Verett expressed appreciation for the USDA on the work they have accomplished so far with regard to other 2014 Farm Bill provisions, but noted that this change is a critical component for producers.

      "It's more important now than ever for USDA to get this done so our producers and lending institutions can move forward with financing the 2015 crop," he said.

      Many others agree, including the Southwest Council of Agribusiness, which sent a letter to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack urging the USDA to implement the APH provision, as have Plains Cotton Growers, the National Cotton Council, and most recently, Texas Sen. John Cornyn and Colorado Senators Mark Udall and Michael Bennet.

      "This is a time in which it's important for all of agriculture to stand together and advocate for those whose life's work is to grow the food and fiber it takes to feed and clothe this nation and the world," Verett said. "The Southwest Council of Agribusiness has been an integral part of this and we appreciate their efforts, and we thank Senator Cornyn, Senator Udall, and Senator Bennet for their understanding of the issue and their willingness to help convey our message to the USDA. We continue to have faith that the USDA will implement this very important provision."


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Farm Bill Meetings Scheduled

      Mark your calendars for these upcoming Farm Bill meetings:

      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. 22 - Farm Bill Decision Aid Tool Meeting, 1-3:30 p.m., Ag and Community Center, 1619 Hall Avenue, Littlefield. More info: (806) 385-4222.

      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.

      To add a meeting to this schedule, please email maryjane@plainscotton.org. A complete list of all of these meetings is available on the Plains Cotton Growers website at http://www.plainscotton.org/mj/agconferences/agconferences.html.



"Ag in the Bag" Program Teaches

Elementary Students About Agriculture

Friday, October 17, 2014                        By Mary Jane Buerkle

      Almost 1,300 fourth-grade students from Lubbock and the surrounding areas watched Diamond the dairy cow being milked, saw how their jeans were made, and learned how agriculture impacts their daily lives at the annual "Ag in the Bag" program, held earlier this week at the Texas Tech Livestock Arena in Lubbock.

      Topics included dairy, corn, cotton, peanuts, sorghum, water, beef, sheep, meat science, food science, and various other agricultural concepts.  A committee of volunteers plans the event, which is free to the schools because of financial support from sponsors. Students from Lubbock ISD, Abernathy, Ackerly Sands, Shallowater, New Deal, New Home, and Christ The King Cathedral School attended the program.

      "It's so important to reach out to our kids to teach them where their food and fiber comes from," committee president Lynn Simmons with South Plains Electric Cooperative said.

      Sponsors of the program include Bayer CropScience/FiberMax/Stoneville, Lubbock County Farm Bureau, the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources at Texas Tech, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension, South Plains Electric Cooperative, Texcraft Inc., Lubbock Chamber of Commerce, AgTexas Farm Credit Services, Plains Cotton Growers, Capital Farm Credit, Texas Tech Federal Credit Union, City Bank Texas, Texas Corn Producers, Texas Peanut Producers Board, Cornerstone Group Inc., United Sorghum Checkoff Program, Southwest Dairy Farmers, Gandy's, Premier Media Group, Taylor Insurance, Lubbock County Soil and Water Conservation District, Hurst Farm Supply, Farmers Cooperative Compress, and Dairy MAX.