NCC: No Adverse Farm Law Changes
or Budget Reductions
Tuesday, February 24, 2015 From the National Cotton Council
With producers now making critical decisions on the new farm law's various program options and with program election and sign-up deadlines still ahead, it would be highly disruptive and punitive to make adverse policy changes or budget reductions while the new farm law is being implemented.
That was the assessment conveyed here today on behalf of the National Cotton Council (NCC) by Ronnie Lee, a Bronwood, Ga., cotton producer, in testimony he presented during the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition & Forestry Committee's hearing to review implementation of The Agricultural Act of 2014. He also was testifying on behalf of the Southern Peanut Farmers Federation.
Lee, who serves on the NCC's board of directors, said, "With cotton's safety net now comprised solely by the marketing loan program and crop insurance, we are especially concerned by the recent actions and statements focused on eliminating key crop insurance tools. Farm policy generally, and cotton policy specifically, were substantially reformed, funding reduced, and market orientation increased in the 2014 farm bill, so now is not the time for further changes that will only undermine the foundation of risk management for production agriculture."
Lee stressed that one of the most challenging implementation issues has been the imposition of the payment limit on the marketing loan. Tracking total benefits that have accrued to the limit has proven to be a complex and challenging task for USDA. The uncertainty created by the limit works to undermine the effectiveness of the marketing loan.
With respect to USDA's current rulemaking process on "actively engaged" in farming, he urged the Committee to work closely with USDA to make sure that any changes to the provisions do not exceed the scope of the farm bill statute.
Lee told the Committee that the U.S. cotton industry looks forward to continuing its work with the House and Senate agriculture committees and with USDA on the farm law's full implementation and to address any shortcoming or unintended consequences.
The Memphis, Tenn.-based NCC's mission is ensuring the ability of the U.S. cotton industry's seven industry segments to compete effectively and profitably in the raw cotton, oilseed and U.S.-manufactured product markets at home and abroad.
The U.S. cotton industry provides employment for some 200,000 Americans and produces direct business revenue of more than $27 billion. Accounting for the ripple effect of cotton through the broader economy, direct and indirect employment surpasses 420,000 workers with economic activity well in excess of $100 billion.
2015 Seed Cost Calculator Now Available
Friday, February 27, 2015 By Shawn Wade
The 2015 version of the Plains Cotton Growers, Inc. Seed Cost Calculator is ready and available for download from the PCG website at http://www.plainscotton.org.
The PCG seed cost calculator is an interactive Microsoft Excel spreadsheet that allows producers to calculate an estimated cost per acre, for both seed and technology, based on published suggested retail prices. The calculator has become a popular tool among producers interested in comparing seed and technology prices as they work to finalize their cotton variety selections.
The 2015 version of the spreadsheet includes listings for 90 conventional, Roundup Ready FLEX, XtendFlex, GlyTol, Bollgard II, TwinLink, and Widestrike varieties, including numerous stacked gene versions of these technologies that will be available for sale in West Texas in 2015.
Upcoming Area Ag Conferences
March 4 – Gray County Ag Conference, Pampa. Contact Brandon McGinty, CEA-AG, (806) 669-8033.
March 5 – Sorghum Production Meeting, Morse. Contact Kristy Slough, CEA-AG, (806) 878-4026.
March 6 – Beef and Range Meeting, Lipscomb. Contact J.R. Sprague, CEA-AG, (806) 862-4601.
March 6 – Cover Crops Seminar, Lubbock. Contact Mark Brown, CEA-AG, (806) 775-1680.
March 11 – Cotton Market Outlook and Risk Management Seminar, 9 a.m.-3 p.m., Floyd County Unity Center, Muncy. Contact Cristen Brooks, CEA-AG, (806) 983-4912.
March 11 – Pest Control Meeting, Castro County. Contact Nancy Andersen, CEA-AG, (806) 647-4115.
March 24 – Sorghum Meeting, Perryton. Contact Scott Strawn, CEA-AG, (806) 435-4501.
March 25 – Oldham County Field Day, Vega. Contact Austin Voyles, CEA-AG, (806) 267-2692.
March 30 – Pre-Plant Meeting, Lamesa. Contact Gary Roschetzky, CEA-AG, (806) 872-3444.
March 31 – Beef Cattle Nutrition Series, Wheeler. Contact Dale Dunlap, CEA-AG, (806) 826-5243.
A complete list of meetings is at http://bit.ly/cottonmeetings.
Thursday, February 26, 2015 From the HPWD
The High Plains Underground Water Conservation District (HPWD) Board of Directors will receive public comments on proposed revisions to Rule 4.1(e) and 4.2 (b) at a public hearing set for 10:00 a.m., March 13 at the Swisher County Memorial Building, 127 SW 2nd Street, in Tulia.
The directors will hold their regular monthly meeting immediately following the conclusion of the public hearing.
The proposed revision deletes the word "shall" in Well Registration Rule 4.1(e) and replaces it with the word "may." In addition, the existing sentence in Well Registration Rule 4.2(b) would be deleted and replaced with "A new well exempt from permitting may be registered with the district."
No other revisions to the HPWD rules shall be considered at this time.
"If the rule amendments are approved, landowners within the 16-county HPWD service area will no longer be required to register their exempt use wells with the district," said HPWD Board President Lynn Tate of Amarillo.
"They would have the option to register their wells in order to receive protection under the district's water well spacing requirements. These proposed rule amendments are another step in the right direction to protect private property rights," he said.
Written comments regarding the proposed revisions to the rules must be received at the HPWD office, 2930 Avenue Q, Lubbock TX 79411-2499 no later than 5:00 p.m., Wednesday, March 11, 2015. They may also be submitted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A complete copy of the current HPWD rules and the proposed revisions are available for viewing at the district office in Lubbock or by calling (806) 762-0181. They are also available online at http://www.hpwd.org/rules/.
"We encourage public comment about the proposed rule revisions. Persons with questions should feel free to contact the district office in Lubbock for more information," Tate said.
Tuesday, February 24, 2015 From the NRCS
The U.S. Department of Agriculture is offering a renewal option through Tuesday, March 31, 2015 for eligible agricultural producers and forest landowners with expiring Conservation Stewardship Program contracts. These producers must be willing to adopt additional conservation activities aimed at helping them achieve higher levels of conservation on their farms, forests and ranches.
USDA will also extend the deadline for general sign-up CSP applications until Friday, March 13, 2015 providing farmers, ranchers, and private forest managers two additional weeks to apply for this funding round of $100 million.
Changes in the 2014 Farm Bill will allow CSP participants with expiring contracts to renew them by exceeding stewardship thresholds for two or more existing natural resource concerns specified by the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) or by meeting stewardship thresholds for at least two new natural resource concerns such as improving water quality or soil health. NRCS administers CSP.
About 9,300 contracts covering more than 12.2 million acres are nearing the end of their five- year term and can be renewed for an additional five years. The agricultural producer or forest landowner must complete all conservation activities contained in the initial contract before a renewal can be granted.
The renewal process is optional but benefits CSP participants with expiring contracts because it is non-competitive. In order to renew, an agricultural producer or forest landowner must meet the minimum criteria established by NRCS. Contract renewal also offers these agricultural producers and forest landowners an opportunity to add new conservation activities to meet their conservation goals and protect the natural resources on their farms, forests or ranches. The 2014 Farm Bill includes an expanded conservation activity list that offers producers more options to address natural resource challenges. New conservation activities include cover crops, intensive rotational grazing and wildlife-friendly fencing.
USDA's largest conservation program by acreage, CSP pays participants for conservation performance — the better the performance, the higher the payment. Nearly 70 million acres have been enrolled in the program since its launch in 2009.
Along with the renewal option announced recently, USDA announced last month that it will make available $100 million this year through the CSP in 2015. Although CSP applications are accepted all year, farmers, ranchers and forest landowners should submit applications by the funding deadline, extended to Friday, March 13, to ensure they are considered for this year's funding. Applications should be submitted to local NRCS offices, and as part of the CSP application process, applicants will work with NRCS field personnel to complete a resource inventory of their land, which will help determine the conservation performance for existing and new conservation activities. The applicant's conservation performance will be used to determine eligibility, ranking and payments.
USDA offers financial and technical assistance to agricultural producers or forest landowners for the active management and maintenance of existing conservation activities and for carrying out new conservation activities on working agricultural land. Eligible lands include cropland, grassland, prairie land, improved pastureland, rangeland, non-industrial private forestland and tribal agricultural land. Applicants must have control of the land for the 5-year term of the contract.
Agricultural producers or forest landowners with existing contracts scheduled to expire this calendar year and who wish to renew for an additional five-year term must submit an application indicating their intent to renew to their local NRCS office prior to the national application deadline of March 31, 2015.
To learn more about CSP contract renewals, or for more information about the program, contact your local NRCS office.