Holladay, Wright Testify Before

House Agriculture Committee Members

Friday, December 11, 2015                   By Mary Jane Buerkle

      "Stress in Cotton Country" was the focus of a public hearing hosted on Wednesday by the House Agriculture Committee's Subcommittee on General Farm Commodities and Risk Management, and two area cotton industry leaders were part of the panel testifying about the current situation in this region and across the Cotton Belt.

      Shawn Holladay, current president of Plains Cotton Growers and producer board member of the National Cotton Council, and Mike Wright, executive vice president for the agricultural lending division of City Bank Texas in Lubbock, outlined challenges on the farm and in ag lending. Others on the panel included Shane Stephens, NCC Vice Chairman, Greenwood, Miss.; Nathan Reed, Arkansas State Chairman, American Cotton Producers, Marianna, Ark.; Kent Wannamaker, President, Southern Cotton Growers, Saint Matthews, S.C.; and Cannon Michael, NCC Producer Board Member, Los Banos, Calif.

      The hearing highlighted numerous issues facing cotton growers, including low commodity prices, rising input costs, new challenges such as resistant weeds, the effects of both drought and flooding, and market-distorting policies in China and India.

      "The margins in agricultural production have been getting tighter every year," Wright said. "Producers need above average yields just to break even. There is no doubt that some cotton farmers will not qualify for financing next year. We are concerned about our ability to continue to meet the lending needs of America's cotton farmers in years to come."

      Panelists talked about the importance of crop insurance and its role in keeping producers in business.

      "Thanks to the occasional good years and crop insurance, we have been able to get through tough times," Holladay said. "However, crop insurance was never designed to deal with anticompetitive trading practices by countries like China and India. Yet, (crop insurance) is almost exclusively what a cotton farmer must rely on today."

      The panel made its case for U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack to use his authority in the 2014 Farm Bill to designate cottonseed as an "other oilseed," making it eligible for ARC and PLC programs.

      "A thriving cotton industry is critical to the success of many local economies," Wright said. "A cottonseed support policy will help alleviate the increasing financial stress within the cotton industry and allow for continued credit availability."

      Several Members of Congress have pledged their support to urge the Secretary to make that designation.

      "Cotton is the economic lifeblood of many communities, and it is essential we hear directly from the folks who are being affected by these low commodity prices, rising input costs and distorted markets," Subcommittee Chairman Rick Crawford (R-AR) said in a news release. "Most farmers in America face these challenges at some point, but cotton farmers are trying to weather all of these conditions at once, in their severest form, and without the benefit of an effective farm safety net. I am hopeful Secretary Vilsack will use his authority to take administrative action like he has in the past to help cotton farmers."

      Those who wish to watch the hearing can find it recorded online at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mb2EA5vKOiI.




If you have a Texas Ag/Timber Registration Number,

you MUST renew by December 31, 2015,

in order to get a current expiration date!


Farmers, ranchers and timber operators cannot purchase qualifying items tax free

without a current Ag/Timber Number.


For more information, visit http://comptroller.texas.gov/taxhelp/
or call 1-800-252-5555.


Texas Cotton Crop Estimates Unchanged

Friday, December 11, 2015                   By Mary Jane Buerkle

      No changes were reflected for Texas in the National Agricultural Statistics Service's upland cotton production estimates for the 2015 crop from their November report to their December report, which was released on Wednesday.    

      NASS estimates that High Plains cotton growers will produce 4,030,000 million bales, 610,000 of those in the Northern High Plains area and 3,420,000 in the Southern High Plains.

      Yield per acre for the Northern High Plains is 714 pounds, and 657 for the Southern High Plains. Harvested acres at 410,000 in the NHP and 2,500,000 in the SHP. The abandonment rate still stands at 7.4 percent.

      Statewide, the production number remained at 5.8 million bales. The nationwide estimate for upland cotton dropped slightly to 12.6 million bales, down from an estimated 12.8 million in the November report and down 20 percent from 2014.

      Growers continued to make the most of mild weather, as harvest activity has been steady over the past week. Although official estimates won't be released until Monday, PCG estimates that the 41-county service area is more than 80 percent harvested at press time.


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