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Cotton News

June 21, 2024

Welcome to the June 21, 2024 issue of Cotton News, a service provided by Plains Cotton Growers Inc. for the cotton industry in the Texas High Plains and beyond.

Faces of Cotton: Meet the Hollingsworths

For our next installment of the “Faces of Cotton” story series, meet Robert and Karen Hollingsworth of Claude, Texas. Watch the video version of their story on the right.

By Kara Bishop

Three-year-old Robert Hollingsworth gets up early Saturday morning. It’s time to check on his crops. He pulls his little boots on and heads outside to start up his tricycle. He’s planted some wheat and hay grazer in some rows he set up in the front yard, much to his daddy’s dismay. It’s wet and muddy this morning — a little too treacherous for a tricycle ride. Little Robert stares at his trike and thinks. He has to check his crops, and while he could just walk the ten feet over there, his daddy always drives out to the farm. So, he needs to drive out to his just like daddy does it.

Suddenly it comes to him. He finds some baling wire out in the garage and wraps his front tricycle tire in wire. He’ll cut some deep ruts in the yard, but he won’t get stuck. After all, his horse needs hay so he must press on. At three years old, Robert has all the makings of an ingenious steward of the land. Just like his daddy.

Farming is all he knows and is all he has ever wanted to do. With 280 acres of land that his great-grandfather homesteaded in 1906, he dreamed of farming it like his father and grandfather before him.

But the challenges that plague farmers today were roadblocks for young producers like Robert back then as well. Access to land, crop prices and input costs kept Robert from making a true living off the land. He went to work for the Texas Department of Transportation (TXDOT) in Panhandle, Texas, in 1982.

Stretched Thin

While he had a full-time job, Robert still wanted to farm. It was a punishing schedule during planting and harvest seasons.

8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. – work at TXDOT
7:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m. – plow or plant at the farm
2:00 a.m. – 6:00 a.m. – nap, shower and get ready for work

When he had a spare moment, he worked on his sons’ race cars and took them to races on the weekends.

“If I could get four hours of sleep a night, I felt pretty lucky,” he said.

Robert may have been stretched thin, but that didn’t make him mediocre. For TXDOT, he invented a lay-down machine that fits on the front of a maintainer for paving roads. Robert’s invention would lay the road automatically with very little shovel work involved. His lay-down contraption became a model and showpiece for other districts to copy and implement into their processes. Because his innovation reduced man hours and manpower needed, the state of Texas saved $30 million annually on road systems.

He competed in state and national events with his invention — and won, giving the $10,000 in proceeds to the West Texas A&M engineering program.

Second Chance

On January 1, 2009, Robert transferred to the Groom TXDOT office and became Karen’s boss.

Neither Robert nor Karen could have imagined their union taking place. Both were convinced they’d never marry again. Both were content with that.

Finding each other just happened.

“It was from the Lord,” Robert said.

“It was weird,” Karen added. “The first time we held hands, I just knew I had the right person. I would have married him right then had he asked me to.”

When Karen’s job in Groom became a district-wide position, she transferred to the Pampa office. Robert and Karen began dating at that time and marry in 2010.

Enjoying the Reward

Today Robert and Karen live in a beautiful red barndominium they built five years ago after almost a decade of sketching, designing and dreaming.

They farm dryland milo, wheat, cotton and run a few cows. They love spending time with their grandkids and the RV life, when time allows, working together and playing pickle ball.

It took Robert years to acquire the land, equipment and assets needed to make farming work full time. He retired from TXDOT in 2012 and now does what he’s always wanted to do. Farm the land. While driving to a section outside of Claude, he said, “It took me 28 years to put this section of land together. I bought it piece by piece and had a couple of half circles sold out from under me a couple of times, but I finally got it.”

During Thanksgiving in 2016, Robert and Karen decided they were going to try growing cotton. Karen printed everything out she could find on it and made a book for Robert to study by the fire in the winter.

“I would cuss those boys around me for growing cotton, because I hated it so much,” Robert added. “We were grain farmers, so, when we decided it was a good idea to implement cotton into our rotation, I ate a lot of crow and apologized to every one of those guys. Cotton was just something we never thought we would grow, in fact, my dad would be rolling in his grave if he knew we were farming it today.”

Their 2017 crop was the best cotton crop they’ve harvested so far, producing 2.9 bales per acre of dryland cotton that year.

“The biggest things we learned were to not be afraid to plant that cotton seed a little deeper and to use plant growth regulator,” Karen said.

People often seem surprised at how well Robert and Karen work together. It’s not your typical husband/wife dynamic. But it’s not every day two people get a second chance at love, either. They’re grateful for each other and never take it for granted. They do it all, just the two of them, planting, spraying, harvesting year after year after year.

“We laugh together, we cry together, we play hard, we work hard, and we just enjoy life.” Robert said. “The Lord has blessed us and provided all we have ever needed.”The cotton they planted in late April came up and is still going strong.

“I have faith that the Lord will provide what I need,” Robert said. “He’s taken great care of me so far.”

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CBO Releases Updated Budget and Economic Analysis

By Jim Wiesemeyer, ProFarmer

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released its updated projections for the federal budget and economy from 2024 to 2034.

Key Highlights

Budget projections:

  • 2024 deficit: Projected at $1.9 trillion, or $2.0 trillion (7.0% of GDP) when adjusted for timing shifts.
  • 2034 deficit: Expected to reach $2.8 trillion (6.9% of GDP).
  • 2024-2034 total deficit: Estimated at $24 trillion, 70% larger than the historical average relative to economic output.
  • Federal outlays: Expected to rise from 24.2% of GDP in 2024 to 24.9% in 2034, driven by increased interest costs and spending on Medicare and Social Security.
  • Federal revenues: Forecasted to increase from 17.2% of GDP in 2024 to 18.0% by 2027, stabilizing near that level through 2034.
  • Public debt: Projected to rise from 99% of GDP in 2024 to 122% in 2034, surpassing its historical peak.

Changes in budget projections:

  • The 2024 deficit is $0.4 trillion higher than previously projected in February 2024, due to:
    • $145 billion increase in student loan outlays.
    • $70 billion increase in deposit insurance outlays.
    • $60 billion increase due to newly enacted legislation.
    • $50 billion increase in Medicaid outlays.
  • Over the 2025-2034 period, the cumulative deficit is larger by $2.1 trillion, mainly due to newly enacted legislation, including $95 billion for aid to Ukraine, Israel, and the Indo-Pacific region.

Economic projections:

  • Economic growth: Expected to slow from 3.1% in 2023 to 2.0% in 2024.
  • Inflation: Projected to be slightly lower in 2024 than in 2023, due to recovered supply chains, higher unemployment, and increased long-term interest rates.
  • Interest rates: Short-term rates are expected to remain high, with the federal funds rate at its highest since 2001.

Immigration surge:

  • From 2021 to 2026, net immigration is projected to be 8.7 million higher than historical levels.
  • The surge is expected to increase nominal GDP by $8.9 trillion (2.4%) over the 2024-2034 period.
  • The immigration surge will raise interest rates by 0.1 percentage point by 2034 and lower deficits by $0.9 trillion, with revenues increasing by $1.2 trillion and mandatory spending and interest outlays rising by $0.3 trillion.

CBO says that one culprit for the larger deficit this year is Congress’s recent military aid bill. But overall defense spending is still falling as a share of the economy and is expected to hit a postwar low of 2.8% of GDP in 2034. Also, if spending as a share of GDP remained at the pre-pandemic average, the deficit would be roughly $890 billion this year and $13.4 trillion smaller than CBO’s 10-year projection. This would keep debt as a share of GDP at roughly 90%.

Phillip L. Swagel, CBO’s Director, emphasizes that these projections incorporate the impacts of the immigration surge and recent legislative changes on the federal budget and economy.

CBO projects $1.9 trillion federal budget deficit for FY 2024. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that the federal budget deficit for FY 2024 will reach $1.9 trillion, which is $400 billion higher than the estimate from four months ago. ($300 billion larger than last year’s deficit). The increase is attributed to President Biden’s student loan forgiveness program (which CBO estimates could cost $211 billion this year above what it estimated in February), spending on Ukraine, Israel, and the Indo-Pacific region, slow recovery of bank failure costs by the FDIC, and higher Medicare spending (higher enrollment). CBO increased its Affordable Care Act (ACA/ObamaCare) spending estimate by $22 billion for this year and $244 billion over the next decade. It also raised its ACA enrollment projection by four million for this year and an average of three million over the next 10 years.

Over the next decade, the CBO projects the deficit will total $24 trillion. Link to report.

— The interest burden of the debt is significant. According to EconoFact Chats (link):

  • Interest payments on federal government debt are projected to be $892 billion in 2024,representing 3.1% of GDP. Net outlays for interest have never exceeded 3.2% of GDP since 1940.
  • Interest payments, at 13% of federal spending in 2024, represent the third highest category of spending, ahead of spending on defense, Medicare and income security programs. This contrasts with the situation in 2017 when net interest payments made up 7% of government outlays.
  • Projections of the interest burden of the debt have increased dramatically over the past four years. The Congressional Budget Office currently projects that interest payments on debt will be about 15% of federal spending in 2030. Four years ago, the projection for 2030 was about 9%.
  • Rising levels of debt service contribute to fiscal challenges. Higher interest payments mean less government spending is available for defense, social safety net programs, research, and other important government functions like a farm bill.

CBO is big player in farm bill negotiations.

The CBO is the official scorekeeper of legislative proposals and in release a farm bill baseline. The ongoing farm bill debate has a $1.51 trillion baseline over ten years. While CBO on Tuesday updated its forecasts, the farm bill baseline remains the same because House Ag Chair GT Thompson (R-Pa.) got his proposal approved in his panel by the end of May.

CBO now says USDA’s use of its Section 5 authority under the CCC would total $12 billion from fiscal year (FY) 2025 through 2034. In February, USDA estimated that it would spend $15 billion over that period. But either tally is nowhere near the $50 billion or more the House Agriculture Committee needs to fund commodity program increases.

Link to CBO estimates of CCC spending

Link to CBO June 2024 baseline

Link to CBO June 2024 SNAP spending | Another link to CBP on SNAP

Stabenow uses CBO updates to make her farm bill case.

The new CBO projections “prove what we have been saying all along: the House Republican farm bill is unpaid-for, relying on magic math and wishful thinking,” Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) said in a statement. “In exchange for blocking USDA’s ability to provide real time assistance to farmers through the CCC to address emerging challenges, House Republicans received only a small fraction of the $50 billion hole they need to fill to pay for their bill,” she said.

Stabenow said her Rural Prosperity and Food Security Act “is meaningful and responsible.

“And, importantly, it does not fracture the farm and food coalition that is the foundation of every successful farm bill,” she added. “I did the hard work of securing new resources outside of the farm bill through $2.3 billion invested in trade promotion and food aid and a $5 billion commitment in bipartisan offsets from my Leadership. It’s time to get real and stop the posturing and the rhetoric. It’s time to negotiate in reality. My door is open.”

Sen. John Boozman (R-AR), ranking member of the Senate Ag Committee, told us via an AgriTalk interview on Tuesday (link) that he thinks the House needs to pass its farm bill to put pressure on Stabenow and Democrats.

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June 14, 2024

Welcome to the June 14, 2024 issue of Cotton News, a service provided by Plains Cotton Growers Inc. for the cotton industry in the Texas High Plains and beyond.

Putting “Farm” Back in the Farm Bill

Sen. John Boozman (R-AR), Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, unveiled the Senate GOP framework for the 2024 Farm Bill on June 11, 2024.

Following the Chairman’s mark of the 2024 Farm Bill on May 23, Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Ranking Member John Boozman (R-AR) sought to maintain farm bill momentum by unveiling his proposed framework June 11.

Boozman’s proposal aligns closely with the House bill and includes increasing crop reference prices, expanding base acres, strengthening conservation and nutrition, and limiting the Secretary of Agriculture’s authority over the Commodity Credit Corporation, to name a few.

To download the comparison chart, click the image above.

A long-time dedicated advocate for U.S. farmers and ranchers, Boozman is insistent that “more farm be put in the farm bill.”

According to Senate Ag GOP analysis, the lack of funding in Title I of the 2018 Farm Bill was the catalyst behind the ad hoc disaster assistance paid out over the last six years.

Boozman stressed that more funding is needed for the farm safety net, which he says is taken care of in his bill.

“From the onset of this process, we have sought to draft a farm bill that reflects the needs of stakeholders, Boozman said. “The world has changed dramatically since the 2018 bill became law, and the unprecedented challenges and economic uncertainty that farmers face now are only projected to get worse in the coming years.”

We hope lawmakers will seriously consider the farm bill proposal from Senate Ag GOP and work together to create a bipartisan bill that protects our farmers and ranchers, thereby strengthening our industries and economies. We will continue to provide updates as we work toward finalizing a robust farm policy in 2024.

Click on the individual images above to enlarge and view.

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“2024 Alternative Crop Options After Failed Cotton and Late-Season Crop Planting for the Texas South Plains” Report Now Available

The primary objectives of this guide include providing producers with:

  1. Guidelines for crop replant options after failed crops, especially cotton.
  2. Assist with late-season planting decisions where timely planting, duration to crop maturity, and fall weather risk may impact successful cropping.
  3. Provide contractor contact information as well as recent approximate pricing, particularly for crops where price is fixed at contract signing.
  4. This information is applicable as well for the Texas Panhandle, Texas Rolling Plains, and the Concho Valley region. The planting dates will change for crop and location.

New information/What has changed since 2022?

Additions or significantly revised points include:


  • Comments on Enlist cotton and plant-back restrictions.
  • The last recommended planting date for guar has been moved forward five days due to the need to plant earlier for a better chance at full maturity especially to help achieve better test weight to minimize a discount.


  • Guar Resources, Brownfield, TX, has reopened under a new owner and is contracting guar for 2023.
  • “Sugarcane aphid” is in fact actually the sorghum aphid. Genetic tests confirm this. What we have known as SCA is not a new biotype. Management recommendations do not change with this new identification.
  • The ethanol plant in Hockley Co. is reopened in fall 2023 giving local grain sorghum growers an additional potential and competitive market.
  • Grain sorghum replant options now include herbicide tolerant hybrids that enable grass control in existing sorghum crops.

Download the report here. 

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June 7, 2024

Welcome to the June 7, 2024 issue of Cotton News, a service provided by Plains Cotton Growers Inc. for the cotton industry in the Texas High Plains and beyond.

Texas High Plains Crop Conditions Are a Mixed Bag, Per Usual

While planters are still rolling, it’s estimated that 75% of the Texas High Plains cotton planting has been completed. Some areas have received moisture over the spring while others are still coming up short.

An overturned pivot on U.S. Highway 87 north of Tahoka. PCG Director of Field Services Mark Brown said he saw at least 16 of these pivots overturned from the highway while traveling to Big Spring on June 6.

The storm that went through Levelland, New Home and Tahoka in late May wreaked havoc on the towns and surrounding farmland. PCG Director of Field Services Mark Brown said he counted 16 overturned pivots while driving to Big Spring on June 6. “And that was just what I could see from the highway,” he added. With Hockley County’s planting deadline already passed (June 5) and Lynn County’s planting deadline just around the corner (June 10), the damaged irrigation equipment is concerning for cotton producers in these areas.

While planting conditions are better on the Texas High Plains than they were last year, we’re still looking at a mixed bag of circumstances across the region. Producer reports show the good, bad and the ugly as cotton begins to emerge from the soil. “The leaf was laying right there on the ground and it just looked dehydrated,” said Walt Hagood, producer in Hockley County.

“I’ve seen those cotyledons kind of hunkered down and sometimes you dig and find the roots are in moisture,” said Ken Legé, cotton extension specialist for the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center in Lubbock. “However, when it’s 100 degrees outside, sometimes that soil is 120 to135 degrees, and the effect of the demand has those cotyledons folding.”

Subsoil moisture or rather the lack thereof is causing some challenges for producers in Lubbock County. “When the ground below is so dry, it’s like a big dead battery and it pulls the juice from what you’ve got on top,” said Lubbock producer Burt Heinrich. “The 100-degree weather is obviously a factor, but it’s also the dirt underneath that’s pulling the moisture down below where the root can reach. It makes the inch of rain you get a little more ineffective when the subsoil is parched.”

However, Heinrich went on to add that he has seen some good cotton in the area even with the subsoil challenges. “I would say it’s not the average yet, but a lot of cotton can become close to what we expect to see. We got a rain last night nearly everywhere on our farms, and any rain right now will help that little plant if it doesn’t storm it out.”

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Texas Crop Progress and Conditions Report released June 3, Upland cotton is predominantly in “good” condition at 47% for the week (ending June 2). South Texas’ crop appears to be in good condition, but producers down there are dealing with abnormal drought and need a good rain to maintain the progress they’ve made as they go into their harvest season.

Let’s all continue to pray for timely rains for our producers.

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FCIC Board Approves New Subsidy Rate for ECO Beginning with 2025 Insurance Year

The Federal Crop Insurance Corporation Board of Directors met May 23 and approved an increase in the subsidy rate growers will receive when purchasing the Enhanced Coverage Option (ECO). This change will come into effect with the 2025 insurance year, which begins with policies sold after July 1, 2024.

With the change ECO will now receive a 65 percent premium subsidy rate – an increase of 21 percentage points from the endorsement’s current 44 percent level.

The change, which is effective regardless of the outcome of current farm bill discussions, brings the ECO endorsement subsidy to the same level as the existing subsidy rate provided for the Supplemental Coverage Option (SCO) endorsement. The higher ECO subsidy level could increase interest in ECO among producers by reducing the cost of the coverage.

ECO is a companion policy that can provide additional county-based shallow-loss coverage on top of the coverage provided by an underlying multi-peril revenue or yield policy and/or a Supplemental Coverage Option (SCO) endorsement. ECO protection can be selected to cover losses beginning at 90% or 95% of a county’s expected revenue for the insured crop.

The ECO endorsement cannot be purchased when a producer buys the Stacked Income Protection Plan (STAX) on cotton. Since ECO does not provide coverage that overlaps the protection provided by the USDA FSA Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) program, a grower may participate in ECO and ARC simultaneously as long as they have not also purchased an SCO endorsement.

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May 31, 2024

Welcome to the May 31, 2024 issue of Cotton News, a service provided by Plains Cotton Growers Inc. for the cotton industry in the Texas High Plains and beyond.

Farm Bill 2024: Are You in the Arena or Sitting in the Cheap Seats?

By Kara Bishop

I’m considering turning off my Google alerts for the phrase “Farm Bill.”

Since the proposed legislation was voted out of committee last week, these have been the headlines from the press:

  • Farm Bill advances from U.S. House Ag Panel but faces a tough row to hoe
  • Vilsack Says House Proposal Threatens Farm Bill Coalition
  • Vilsack Outlines His Opposition to House Farm Bill
  • Farm Bill Clears US House Ag Committee, But Likely Won’t Get Widespread Congressional Support as Revision Process Continues

This is not an exhaustive list — there are loads more. This is the vibe and media pitch that everyone is inundated with right now. While it’s not wrong to report the ins and outs of the legislative process for something like the Farm Bill, the press tends to focus on the negative. The talking heads seem to focus on the negative. And it’s exhausting to read it all.

I can’t imagine what it’s like having to experience it as a producer trying to make a living when all you hear is:

  • “It’s never going to get passed out of the House.”
  • “The Senate will never compromise to pass this bill.”
  • “It’s going to be extended. There’s no way we have a farm bill in 2024.”

There’s always going to be noise that is irrelevant to action. There is always going to be someone weighing in from the sidelines not doing the work, sitting in the cheap seats issuing opinions without evidence. What’s frustrating, and even a little surprising, is that some of the Monday-morning quarterbacks on the 2024 Farm Bill are in agriculture.

On April 23, 1910, former president Theodore Roosevelt delivered one of the most powerful speeches in U.S. history while touring Europe. That day, 25,000 people packed the streets of Paris to hear him speak.

To sum up, it’s basically a rant on cynics looking down on people who try to make the world a better place. This is my favorite excerpt; taken from a sign I have in my office:

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is not effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement. And who at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly. So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.  

House Ag Committee Chair Glenn “GT” Thompson (R-PA) is in the arena. There are multiple Representatives and Senators in the arena fighting for farmers with him. And PCG stands with them.

We’ve had talking heads, politicians and some agriculture groups saying there will not be a farm bill this year. That we will have an extension. I mean, it’s bad enough that the media is beating that drum, but even some of our own are adding to the proverbial noise. It’s getting one-sided and loud.

I understand there are challenges and a million tiny pieces that must line up just perfectly right for the 2024 Farm Bill to become law. I understand that the reality on the ground is an uphill battle — hasn’t that been the case with almost every farm bill? What I don’t understand is why some are making it harder for our advocates by agreeing with the obstacles rather than rising above them. The naysayers need to believe.

Because what is told to the press and published on communication channels gets back to our lawmakers. And they need to believe, too. They need a little support and motivation from agriculture to keep fighting the good fight.

Because we have some vocal opponents. Some loud opponents to this House Ag Committee Farm Bill Proposal — including the secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Why would anyone feed their noise when we can make our own?

The answer to questions about the farm bill that just passed out of the House Ag Committee is simple: We need this farm bill. It’s a good bill. It’s bipartisan. (There were four democrats that voted it out of committee when all the noise said there might be one.) It provides an actual farm safety net that could do producers and industry alike some real good for the next five years. And we need it because we grow the food and fiber of the world in an abundant and safe way for everyone.

Let’s make some noise as believers.

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How Would New Payment Limit Work Under House Farm Bill Proposal?

Farm CPA Report with Paul Neiffer

The House Farm Bill proposal has an option to increase the payment limit from the current $125,000 to $155,000 beginning with the 2025 crop year and then index it to inflation. However, in order to qualify for the increase, your adjusted gross income (AGI) from farming must be greater than 75% compared to total AGI.

The wording of the bill indicates that this test is applied to an individual or entity but does not include the new “qualified pass-through” entity. Therefore, the test for any entity taxed as a partnership or S corporation will be determined at the owner level to see if either the $125,000 or $155,000 limit will apply.

Let’s look at some examples (these are based on a three-year average):

Gretchen has a Schedule F that shows $75,000 of net income including any related equipment gains on Form 4797. Her spouse shows $50,000 of wage income. As a couple, Gretchen would not qualify for the increased payment limit. However, she may get an attorney or CPA to write a letter indicating if she filed separately then she would qualify. But remember, the increased payment limit only helps if she has payments greater than $125,000.

Let’s assume that Gretchen is single and has Schedule F income of $65,000 and also works in town making $30,000. She would not qualify for the increased payment limit.

ABC Farm Corporation has $200,000 of farm income reported on a substitute Schedule F but has income of $100,000 from wind turbine leases. FSA considers all of this income to be farm income and would qualify for the increase.

ABC Farm Corporation has $500,000 of farm income, but also $200,000 of income from an investment in a non-farm activity. Since farm income is less than 75% of total income, then the corporation does not qualify for the increase.

Let’s assume that ABC Farm Corporation has four equal owners who all have farm AGI over 75%. Since this is an C corporation, the payment limit remains at $125/155,000. However, if it was an S corporation, its payment limit would be four times as high, however, it is likely there would be a reduction since all of the owners likely received farm program payments too. Remember, that the maximum is split between entities and owners to make sure the payments do not exceed the maximum allocated jointly between owners and entities.

As an example, assume that the corporation qualified for $500,000 of payments and each of the four owners qualified for $100,000 for total qualified payments of $900,000. The maximum that can be paid to the corporation and the four owners if $620,000 (4 X $155,000) and thus a pro-rata reduction would be applied.

XYZ Farms LLC has four equal owners. The LLC qualifies for $700,000 of payments, however, three of the owners have farm AGI less than 75%, therefore, the LLC will only receive $530,000 instead of the maximum $620,000 allowed if all four had farm AGI over 75%.

MNO Farms, a general partnership, qualifies for $1 million of farm program payments. It has 7 equal owners, however, none of them have farm AGI greater than 75%, therefore, the partnership will only receive $875,000 instead of the full $1 million if all were greater than 75%. Also, if any of the owners received a payment, then a pro-rata reduction would be applied to MNO payment too.

Now, let’s assume that MNO Farms only has four actively involved owners and the other three are not involved at all. Of the four actively involved farmers, three have farm AGI over 75% and one does not. In this case, the total amount of farm payments allowed is three @ $155,000 and one @ $125,000 or a total of $590,000. The three that are not involved removes those payment limits from the calculation. Also, pro-rata reduction may be applied to MNO.

As you can see, in some cases you will get the increase and in other cases you would not. However, this is just a proposal, and it will require the House to vote yes on it and for the Senate to agree. This likely will not happen but we may be pleasantly surprised.

We will keep you posted.

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May 24, 2024

Welcome to the May 24, 2024 issue of Cotton News, a service provided by Plains Cotton Growers Inc. for the cotton industry in the Texas High Plains and beyond.

The Farm Bill “Super Bowl” – First Quarter

It’s been a while since I’ve gone to Washington D.C. and returned home energized. For the first time in a long time, I saw governance for the people in action. Just like watching a really good football game that you think about for years to come, yesterday’s markup session was nothing short of epic.

Coin toss
House prevails and chooses to receive; the 2024 Farm Bill is finally underway.

Chairman Glenn “GT” Thompson has done a masterful job in serving as the “quarterback” of the Committee. He and most of his colleagues from both sides of the aisle have spent the last three years traveling to learn about agriculture issues, challenges and needs in farm country. All offseason they’ve been preparing for the traditional five-year game known as the The Farm Bill.

Offense, You’re Up
Right before sending him into the game, Coach Herman Boone in “Remember the Titans” said to QB Ronnie Bass:  “You’re the colonel, you’re going to command your troops!” That’s exactly what Chairman Thompson did in a stately and poetic fashion during the lengthy committee markup of one of the most robust Farm Bills crafted since 2002.

May 23 was an epic day. While the House Agriculture Committee is a frequently visited place, the markup event amassed collective agriculture and non-agriculture groups all in the same place. Some aligned on issues and others not, but respectfully coming together to collaborate and work on a comprehensive legislative package that benefits agriculture and nutrition-based initiatives important to both Republicans and Democrats.

PCG attends an event for House Ag Committee Chair Glenn “GT” Thompson (R-PA) and Rep. Ronny Jackson (R-TX).

It was ecliptic. Congress functioned for the first time in a long time. They introduced and debated tough issues and amendments on an important piece of legislation to the overall people. And, as intended by the founders of democracy, voted on them based on the need of their constituents. It was a good day to be on The Hill.

The House Playbook
Plains Cotton Growers proudly support this legislation. It is the culmination of years of work by the seven segments of cotton: producers, ginners, warehousers, merchants, cottonseed, cooperatives, and manufacturers can all benefit from this legislation.

While there are many positive provisions within the mark, the following are especially worth highlighting for the Texas cotton industry:

  • Increasing the statutory reference price for seed cotton to 42 cents per pound;
  • Enhancing the premium support for the Supplemental Coverage Option (SCO) to 80 percent, along with boosting the top coverage level to 90%;
  • Raising the Marketing Assistance Loan (MAL) rate for Upland cotton to 55 cents per pound and for extra-long staple (PIMA) cotton to one dollar per pound — coupled with enhancements to the MAL repayment provisions that will improve cotton’s overall competitiveness and flow;
  • Including harvest incentive research to support cotton producers and cotton infrastructure in times of peril; and
  • Substantially increasing the funding for the Market Access Program and Foreign Market Development Program.

PCG is proud of the yeoman’s work that has taken place by many helping hands to get us to this point. Years of development and strategy on enhancing policy are now coming to fruition.

The next steps are to secure floor time for the House Ag Committee mark and the Senate to take the field.

While the process seams murky, I am optimistic we will get a Farm Bill done by the end of the year — one that producers and industry alike will be proud of.

Stay tuned for the Second Quarter.

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May 17, 2024

Welcome to the May 17, 2024 issue of Cotton News, a service provided by Plains Cotton Growers Inc. for the cotton industry in the Texas High Plains and beyond.

The Ripple Effect

By Kara Bishop

Every year, the North Plains Groundwater Conservation District puts on the Save the Planet Water Festival for fourth-grade students in the Panhandle.  And every year, the students walk into the classroom for the cotton session that we host confused about why cotton is at the water festival.

They may be confused, but they’re still excited. It’s one of the highlights of my year to go to this event and see nine- and ten-year old children excited about cotton. To see them light up when I tell them cotton is in ice cream and money. To see them immediately try to take their shirts off to check their clothing label after we talk about the damage microplastics in water can do to humans and wildlife alike. To see them excited when they realize their water festival T-shirt is 100% cotton.

And by the end of the day, nearly 300 students have been told to check their clothing labels for cotton, to purchase cotton-rich apparel and to tell everyone they know to do the same.

This type of outreach doesn’t get the same attention as others. It’s not considered a top priority for everyone. But I would argue it’s one of the most important things that we do. One of the most effective ways to create a consumer demand for cotton is to start with the young minds.

When they’re in the halls comparing how much cotton they have in their clothes, I see cotton’s future. And that may seem dramatic, but my son is nearly in fourth grade, and he brings home information to me all the time and insists that we act on it. These children can influence their families in ways that we underestimate.

And who knows? Maybe some of them will tell their familes about the amount of plastic humans consume in a week — in large part to washing polyester clothes — and it will be the change we’ve been waiting to see.

It was a great week in Perryton and Dalhart. We appreciate North Plains Groundwater Conservation District for allowing us to be a part of this important education opportunity. And God bless these kids — they love to learn and now they love cotton!

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USDA NASS Final 2023 County Production Estimates Released

The USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) released final county production estimates for Upland cotton on Friday, May 10 and the data shows Texas produced 2.7 million Upland cotton bales in 2023. Texas High Plains cotton production is an estimated 1,468,151 bales for the year.

Among High Plains counties that have official NASS data to review, only 5 counties produced more than 100,000 bales in 2023. Those counties were: Lubbock -177,500; Crosby – 134,500; Floyd – 134,000; Hockley – 130,000; and Hale – 119,000.

According to the January 2, 2024 USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) Certified Acreage report High Plains producers planted 3.442 million acres in 2023, while acres remaining for harvest totaled 1.341 million. Weather related losses led to 60% abandonment of planted acres in the region.

The USDA NASS data is a testament to the tough growing conditions that plagued the state in 2023. Unfortunately, the agency only published county-level data for 61 of the 162 counties that planted cotton in 2023, which equates to only 38% of raw data reported.

Only 22 counties in PCG’s  42-county service area had official USDA NASS data released. Production from the remaining counties was estimated using a calculated USDA NASS district average yield from published county data and January certified acreage data.

The preceding paragraphs lead to a question of NASS relevancy. Is this USDA faction useful anymore? Given their recent discontinuation of the cotton objective yield survey and all county estimates for crops and livestock, which is data that industry has relied upon for years, it’s certainly something to think about. While we appreciate our colleagues at the state and regional offices who strive to do their job, the necessity of this entity, given the way they operate at the federal level, is definitely questionable.

STAX Payments Likely

It appears most of the cotton producers across the High Plains who purchased coverage under the 2023 Stacked Income Protection Plan will receive indemnity payments under the policy.

This should certainly be the case for non-irrigated acres covered under a 2023 STAX policy, as almost every High Plains County is likely to see a maximum indemnity payment calculated. For irrigated cotton the STAX payment outlook is less clear, although most counties are expected to see some level of indemnity.

Using USDA data to get a sense for where final STAX yields might land it appears that irrigated cotton in most High Plains counties is likely to receive some level of payment under the 2023 STAX policy. A majority of irrigated STAX payments are likely to be less than the maximum possible under the policy.

Irrigated STAX policies in two counties, Hale and Crosby, appear to be “on the bubble” in terms of triggering a 2023 STAX payment. Whether or not these two counties trigger an irrigated STAX payment will depend on the final production numbers reported to USDA Risk Management Agency.

Final payment amounts will be determined by the USDA Risk Management Agency using 2023 production data reported by producers.

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Upcoming Events

Plains Cotton Growers Advisory Group Meeting
Date: May 24, 2024
Location: PCG Conference Room, Lubbock, Texas

South Plains Field Scout School
Date: May 31, 2024
Location: Hale County Extension Office, Plainview, Texas

Plains Cotton Growers Advisory Group Meeting
Date: June 7, 2024
Location: PCG Conference Room, Lubbock, Texas


For a full list of upcoming events, see the Events Page.

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May 10, 2024

Welcome to the May 10, 2024 issue of Cotton News, a service provided by Plains Cotton Growers Inc. for the cotton industry in the Texas High Plains and beyond.

Wanted: Lost Sheep to be Found

By Kara Bishop

It’s May, which means you are seeing the #mentalhealthawareness posts all over social media. I sometimes struggle with the idea of telling people there’s help and just listing the resources. Not to devalue the intention, but as a realist, I know we can do more. And I understand the need for community and industry resources for this issue. I know they serve an important purpose, and I’m going to include a list of them at the bottom of this article. I just don’t think that’s the difference maker for everyone. It wasn’t for me.

The Parable of the Lost Sheep is one of my favorite stories in the bible. I like it because there have been multiple times throughout my short life that I have been “the one.” Maybe not lost in sin but lost in a dark mental state. Confident that no one could pull me out. Confident that no one would try.

It’s a short story, but I’m going to take the liberty of inference and suggest that it wasn’t easy to locate that one sheep that got lost, especially through mountainous terrain. How long did the man in the parable look? How hard did he look? He had 99 safe sheep so what did it matter that one was lost? Apparently one lost sheep was everything to the man. Lost sheep are everything to Jesus. They should mean everything to us.

It can be easy to spiral when your occupation is 85% uncertainty and 100% sheer force of will. You get to the point where you think it’s never going to work out. And then you have a good year and can’t enjoy it to its fullest, because you’re afraid the next year will be bad.

You may feel the need to shut yourself off from the world, family, friends, or community. You may become the lost sheep. But it’s our job as those who care about you to pull you back out.

Agriculture has always been the community that looks after its neighbor. That’s never been in question — just look at the Panhandle wildfires. Look at all the charity and service and effort people poured into their hurting neighbors.

But mental health isn’t really an area we excel in. It’s not something we like talking about and statistics are not on our side. Mental health takes an effort like nothing else does, because you may have to help when it’s not well received.

It takes tenacity when it comes to helping those who think they aren’t worth it. I’m in a text thread with my mom and sister. If I don’t respond all day to any of the conversation, one of them finds me — they have my location on their phones. They don’t care how I feel about it or if I’m wanting to talk. It’s not good for me to repress whatever emotion I’m experiencing, and they know that. So they dig it out of me. And that is the difference maker.

Obviously, I’m not the textbook case for how to handle someone dealing with mental health issues. That approach won’t work with everyone. But finding what does work for the individuals you’re close to is going to require the same effort as the man searching for the one lost sheep. And quite frankly, it’s easier to share a social media post for mental health awareness month.

We can all name someone who has went through or is going through a hard time right now — have we checked on them? I know we don’t want to interfere with someone’s life or seem nosy but trust me — I’ve never seen someone regret prying into their beloved family member or friend’s life.

But I have seen them mourn every day not checking on that friend or loved one when the mental health battle has been lost. You’re not going to be able to prevent everything and save everyone, but we can all do the best we can to remain plugged in to our communities, family circles and friendships. Stay alert and keep looking for that lost sheep. You won’t regret the effort you made — and you might save a life.

Mental Health Resources:

988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline: call or text 988 or visit

AgriStress Helpline for Texas – Southwest AgCenter: 833-897-2474

Mental Health Counseling – South Texas Rural Health Services: 830-879-3047 or

Mental Health Crisis Services – Texas Health and Human Services:

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Upcoming Events

OC Playa Field Day
Date: May 16, 2024
Location: Floyd County Friends Unity Center

Plains Cotton Growers Advisory Group Meeting
Date: May 24, 2024
Location: PCG Conference Room, Lubbock, Texas

South Plains Field Scout School
Date: May 31, 2024
Location: Hale County Extension Office, Plainview, Texas


For a full list of upcoming events, see the Events Page.

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April 26, 2024

Welcome to the April 26, 2024 issue of Cotton News, a service provided by Plains Cotton Growers Inc. for the cotton industry in the Texas High Plains and beyond.

Texas High Plains Planting Conditions Forecast

By Ken Legé , Texas A&M AgriLife Cotton Extension Specialist, Lubbock Center

It is that time of year to look at planting conditions — considering moisture, air and soil temperatures, and planting capacities to determine planting start dates.

We will cover two planting conditions forecasts, each with 3 specific locations. They both show the high and low temperatures, as well as precipitation forecast percentage. I have calculated the DD60s for each day, and a 5-d DD60 accumulation total for the next five days. I’ve added some commentary to help producers plan planting operations. Most comments consider field soil moisture and soil temperatures.

2024 TX Panhandle Planting Conditions Forecast – April 22, 2024

Locations for this forecast include the following:

  • Spearman, Texas
  • Panhandle, Texas
  • Dumas, Texas

For all three locations, my commentary is the same:  Although forecast highs for the next few days are generally warmer than average, the lows predicted for the next few days pose some risk for chilling injury and/or seedling death. I recommend waiting for warmer temperatures.

Soil temperatures are in the upper 50s to lower 60s in the region.

Note that planting date data suggests April plantings are inconsistent with regard to yield potential. Planting during the second and third week of May have produced more consistent stands and yields in the Texas Panhandle region, on average.

Click the image to download PDF.

2024 Southern HP Planting Conditions Forecast – April 22, 2024

For this forecast, commentary will be added to the Plainview location separate from the other two.

  • Plainview, Texas

Today’s (April 22) forecast includes some rather cool temperatures that are not conducive to rapid emergence — do not plant.

Tuesday and Wednesday of  this week (4/23 and 4/24) offer some warmer temperatures; however, unless planting capacity/total acreage requires otherwise, my recommendation is to wait for warmer temperatures.

The remainder of the week cools down quite a bit, especially Saturday and Sunday (4/27 and 4/28) — do not plant.

  • Lubbock, TX
  • Lamesa, TX

The recommendations for Lubbock and Lamesa areas are similar.  Warmer than average temperatures will tempt producers to put some cottonseed in the ground; however, planting date data suggests that our most consistent yields result when cotton is planted during the last half of May, and in the case of Lamesa, that optimum period extends into early June. Unless producers are worried about losing the soil moisture they currently have, I suggest waiting until May to plant.

Soil temperatures are in the upper 50s to lower 60s following the rainfall the region received over the last week or so. Warmer soil temperatures would be more conducive to rapid emergence.

Click on the image to download the PDF.

I will send out these Planting Conditions Forecasts weekly throughout the planting season to aid planting decisions. These forecasts are not iron-clad, because the weather forecasts change frequently.  However, the purpose of these weekly forecasts is to get growers, and others who consult them, to consider temperature and rainfall forecasts in a logical manner before making the commitment to plant cottonseed, which is one of the highest input costs for a cotton crop.

To obtain information on a specific location (down to the field level), tailored planting conditions forecasts can be accessed from North Carolina State University.  Go to: 

The map will default to a location in North Carolina, but you can scroll the map to your specific location and click on a field. Click ‘submit’ and the tool will provide a two-day planting conditions forecast with commentary.

I would also suggest that growers know the actual warm and cool germs on their lot(s) of cottonseed. The cool germ especially provides you with important information about realistic expectations on emergence.

Contact your local retailer or seed company representative who can provide you with that critical information.

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Upcoming Events

Northern Panhandle Field Scouting School
Date: April 30, 2024
Location: Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center at Amarillo

Plains Cotton Growers Advisory Group Meeting
Date: May 10, 2024
Location: PCG Conference Room, Lubbock, Texas

OC Playa Field Day
Date: May 16, 2024
Location: Floyd County Friends Unity Center

Plains Cotton Growers Advisory Group Meeting
Date: May 24, 2024
Location: PCG Conference Room, Lubbock, Texas


For a full list of upcoming events, see the Events Page.

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April 19, 2024

Welcome to the April 19, 2024 issue of Cotton News, a service provided by Plains Cotton Growers Inc. for the cotton industry in the Texas High Plains and beyond.

Talk to the 90%

It’s Time for Conservationists to Start Screaming from the Rooftops

By Kara Bishop

In preparation for Earth Day, which is Monday April 22, I thought I would get on my soapbox for this week’s newsletter.

We have heard it time and time again: farmers and ranchers are the original conservationists. Farmers are stewards of the land. Farmers want the environment to thrive so they can pass their operation down to the next generation. Farmers engage in agronomic practices that are beneficial to the earth and were doing it long before it was federally mandated.

The key word in the preceding paragraph is “we.”

WE are in agriculture. WE understand the mechanics of farming and ranching. WE live here. WE are in the soil day in and day out. WE talk to farmers from other areas and understand geographic diversity requires different practices.

It’s not about making sure WE know these things. It’s about telling THEM — the consumers; the decision makers who determine demand for our product.

American farm families represent 2% of the U.S. population. That’s it. And they feed and clothe the other 98%. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, roughly 10% of the total U.S. population is involved in agriculture in some way. That means that 90% of U.S. residents need to be communicated with regarding their food and fiber.

We talk to each other and share cool sustainability facts and agronomic practices with one another. Obviously, we need to communicate and share these things to advance our industry, but we also need to share these same stories with those who aren’t involved in agriculture.

Because they are the ones making the purchasing decisions. And as far as you and I are concerned, we need them to choose cotton. Not just for our industry, but because it’s best for the environment. Choosing cotton clothing and household items contributes to saving the planet.

Most of the people making the purchasing decisions for their clothes care about the planet — especially younger generations. Though many of the “earth conscious,” are ironically wearing 100% polyester active wear. And that’s on us.

Don’t get me wrong, I know we’re fighting an uphill battle with the price difference between cotton and synthetic fibers, but we’re making it harder by feeding the agricultural stigma on “sustainability.”

We tend to resist the conversation on sustainability. And I get it. It’s hard to want to engage in that conversation when you’ve been practicing sustainability for years. It’s hard to engage when false narratives are swirling around you about farming and ranching harming the planet rather than preserving it. It’s hard to engage in that conversation when retailers and brands preach sustainability, yet don’t provide a variety of affordable cotton options in stores.

We all know that if we don’t tell our story, someone else will. So many earth conscious “experts” still discuss “dirty cotton” and how it’s harming both farmers and consumers. While the cotton industry is fighting back on this, it’s the squeaky wheel that gets the grease. And, let’s face it, more voices are squeaking harder about you and your practices that they know nothing about.

I’ll be honest — I never checked my clothing labels before I took this job. It never even occurred to me that synthetics might be harming the oceans. And I have lived my entire life in cotton country.

We’ve got to be better about getting the word out. We’ve all got to start pounding hard on that drum. It needs to be in every conversation we have with those who aren’t familiar with what we do. We assume that the people living among us already know these things, but I promise you they don’t. I didn’t.

Here’s the facts from Cotton Incorporated:

  • 14 million metric tons of plastic are released into the oceans every year.
  • Every time clothes are washed, microfibers enter our waterways. These fibers are too small to be completely filtered by wastewater treatment equipment.
  • Cotton breaks down in water in just over three months, which is a rate similar to oak leaves.
  • However, synthetic fibers take 20 to 200 years to break down in the same environment.
  • Fibers from synthetic clothing make up 35% of the microplastics in our oceans.
  • By 2050, there may be more plastic in our oceans than fish.
  • 81% of tested water samples from major metro areas around the world were contaminated with plastic fibers.
  • This microplastic waste affects everything in the ecosystem — including what we eat.
  • The average person consumes approximately a credit card worth of plastic every week.

This is the narrative that needs to be shouted — on Earth Day and every day. I didn’t share this just to share it. Tell your friends.

We all know if consumers demand more cotton, then more cotton products end up in the supply. One producer told me just a few days ago that he can’t find 100% cotton socks in stores. I found that hard to believe, so I conducted my own experiment.

I went to Walmart and JCPenney and looked at their sock selection. At JCPenney, they had some socks that contained upwards of 71% cotton, but the majority of socks were polyester dominant. Walmart had very little cotton in their socks. In the women’s sock aisle, there were only a handful of packages that contained cotton and the most was 50%. Most of the socks were 85% polyester and 15% recycled polyester.

While cotton blends are great, and we’re glad they’re including cotton in their products, I was really surprised that cotton doesn’t own the market on socks. Seems like a no-brainer to me with the odor control and cooling effects that cotton provides.

The real kicker is some of the Hanes brand socks had the following tagline on the back: Responsible. Sustainable. Comfortable. On the same back of that package were the fabric contents: 49% polyester, 43% cotton, 6% rayon, 2% spandex. Is that considered sustainable apparel? If it takes 20 to 200 years for half of the sock to break down, assuming it ended up in the ocean, is that truly responsible and sustainable?

Another industry representative commented in a meeting that he was at the 2024 Master’s Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club where there were 105 golf shirts for sale. Three of the 105 were 100% cotton and two were cotton blends. The 100 shirts remaining? All synthetic.

We have great research at our disposal. We have the facts on our side. Let’s work together and share cotton’s sustainability story — for the good of the planet and the cotton industry. Buy cotton. It’s the sustainable fabric of our life and planet!

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Upcoming Events

Plains Cotton Growers Advisory Group Meeting
Date: May 10, 2024
Location: PCG Conference Room, Lubbock, Texas

Plains Cotton Growers Advisory Group Meeting
Date: May 24, 2024
Location: PCG Conference Room, Lubbock, Texas

Plains Cotton Growers Advisory Group Meeting
Date: June 7, 2024
Location: PCG Conference Room, Lubbock, Texas


For a full list of upcoming events, see the Events Page.

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April 12, 2024

Welcome to the April 12, 2024 issue of Cotton News, a service provided by Plains Cotton Growers Inc. for the cotton industry in the Texas High Plains and beyond.

Plains Cotton Growers Inc. Conducts Elections for 2024-2025 Term

At the Plains Cotton Growers Board of Directors Meeting April 1, the organization conducted officer and executive committee elections. PCG board chairman Brent Nelson rotated off of the officer team, but will continue serving on the PCG PAC board as a trustee.

The new PCG officer team for the next two years consist of the following:

President — Travis Mires, O’donnell, Texas

Vice President — Brent Coker, SpringLake-Earth, Texas

Secretary/Treasurer — Jon Jones, Floydada, Texas

Chairman — Martin Stoerner, Lockney, Texas

“We want to thank Brent for his service to our industry and organization over the last eight years,” Stoerner said at the board meeting April 1. “I appreciate the example he provided for me before I stepped into this role.”

As Stoerner steps into the chairman role, he will also serve as a trustee on the PCG PAC board.

The PCG executive committee election results:

Three representatives from each district of PCG are elected to serve on the organization’s executive committee. The current representatives for 2024 to 2025 are the following:

District One

Kyle Benson, Hale Center; Steve Olson, Plainview; Jordy Rowland, Dimmitt

District Two

David Carter, Levelland; Scott Harmon, Idalou; Rex Kennedy, Lubbock

District Three

Jeremy Brown, Lamesa; Cody Ellison, Denver City; Carl Pepper, Borden County

The executive committee of the PCG Board of Directors guides the organization in financial and staffing decisions.

“We’re excited for the upcoming crop year and blessed as an organization to have the support of our officers, executive committee and board of directors as a whole,” said PCG CEO Kody Bessent.

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Upcoming Events

Plains Cotton Growers Advisory Group Meeting
Date: May 10, 2024
Location: PCG Conference Room, Lubbock, Texas

Plains Cotton Growers Advisory Group Meeting
Date: May 24, 2024
Location: PCG Conference Room, Lubbock, Texas

Plains Cotton Growers Advisory Group Meeting
Date: June 7, 2024
Location: PCG Conference Room, Lubbock, Texas


For a full list of upcoming events, see the Events Page.

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