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Cotton News

July 22, 2022

U.S. Capitol Building

Legislative Update

On behalf of Plains Cotton Growers Inc., chief executive officer, Kody Bessent, went to Washington D.C. July 14 and 15 to meet with Congressional members and staff in advance of the House considering the Fiscal Year (FY) 2023 Agriculture Appropriations bill. While there, he expressed PCG’s sincere gratitude for the recently implemented Emergency Relief Program — an effort worked on and supported by Congress and advocacy organizations, including PCG, since March 2021.

Additionally, Bessent provided an update regarding the ongoing adversity producers and infrastructure face this cropping season due to high winds, below normal rainfall and extreme temperatures that have had a negative impact on cotton acres and production. He emphasized the potential need for future assistance should conditions persist.

Bessent attended key political events on behalf of PCG where we continue to build upon our advocacy and coalition efforts in advance of the development of the 2023 Farm Bill. He also had the opportunity to visit with producer participants of the National Cotton Council Policy Education Program, discussing the importance of advocacy in agriculture.

PCG CEO Kody Bessent with Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and NCC Senior Government Relations Representative Robbie Minnich.

This week, the House advanced H.R. 8294, a mini-series of six of the 12 FY 2023 spending bills — including the Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies bill — on a 220 to 207 vote. Specifically, the agriculture related provisions of the minibus include $27.2 billion in discretionary funding in FY 2023, $2.08 billion more than the FY 2022 level. The bill also includes mandatory funding for nutrition assistance and crop insurance programs, which would bring the total to $195.6 billion.

Cotton initiatives specifically included in the legislation are the following:

  • $1 million above FY 2022 support levels for research efforts to combat whiteflies that are severely impacting vegetable and cotton production in southeastern parts of the U.S.
  • $15.9 million provided for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) Plant Protection and Quarantine Cotton Pests Programs to ensure APHIS and the cotton industry have adequate funding to prevent cotton boll weevil reinfestation in areas of the U.S. where it has been successfully eradicated.
  • $4 million provided for improvements to the U.S. cotton classing offices and operations as Congress acknowledges the challenges presented during the 2021 cotton season such as extensive delays in quality designation, contract delivery and loan repayments.

Furthermore, Congress encourages the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service to continue to work with its customers to secure stability and dependability of the cotton classification program to ensure it accurately processes numerous samples of cotton in a timely manner with less reliance on seasonal staff, which translates to less disruption of market opportunities for producers.

House Democrats are hoping to clear most of the 12 appropriations bills by the end of this month. However, at this point, the initial passage of this week’s minibus spending package does not have a clear path forward before the end of the fiscal year on September 30. Furthermore, the Senate Appropriations Committee has yet to schedule any hearings to mark up any of the spending bills, undoubtedly teeing up Congress to pass a continuing resolution at the beginning of FY 2023 to avoid a government shutdown.

This will likely result in a lame-duck negotiating session to pass either an omni spending package or a year-long continuing resolution. As progress on these initiatives are made, PCG will continue to keep our members and readership updated on its advancement.

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Field Days Offered to Growers

PhytoGen is hosting two field tours for growers August 25th and August 26th.

Through these tours, you can earn continuing education units for Texas Department of Agriculture Applicator Drift Minimization (1 credit), Certified Crop Adviser (CCA) Soil and Water (0.5 units), CCA Integrated Pest Management (1.5 units), and CCA Crop Management (1 unit).

The tour will start at 9 a.m. on August 25th, followed by lunch at Cook’s Garage.

The August 26th field day will begin with lunch at Cook’s followed by 1:30 p.m. tour.

The tours consist of Enlist system demos, variety trials showcase and a session on the new trait package offering tolerance to 2,4-D and glufosinate, for use with Enlist One herbicide.

If you have questions, contact Ken Legé at ken.lege@phytogen.com

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Musings from Mark: High Plains Crop Conditions

Cotton growers on the High Plains planted an estimated 4.3 to 4.4 million acres of cotton in 2022. This growing season has dealt many challenges to producers. After a dry winter and a large 2021 crop, the 2022 season began with virtually no sub-soil moisture aside from pre-plant irrigation. Spring/summer growing challenges included: high winds, below normal rainfall, high temperatures and isolated damaging hail. On May 22nd, Amarillo recorded a minimum temperature of 39 degrees. Lubbock has experienced more than 20 days at or above 100, with more in the forecast. These conditions have been reminiscent of the epic drought of 2011.

The deadline for certifying acreage was July 15th, so we are still awaiting official reports of planted and failed acres. More than half of the acres are non-irrigated. We have already lost most of the dryland acres to drought and some of the irrigated acres to wind, hail and excessive heat.

Many cotton fields in the northern Panhandle are thin and estimated at 10 days behind normal development. Most of our region continues to suffer from lack of rainfall and high temperatures. A few “July 4th” blooms were observed in early planted fields. Many fields are reaching early bloom as of mid-July, with a range of five to nine nodes above white flower (NAWF) in irrigated fields. Many drylands fields have already reached cutout (4 or fewer NAWF) Many fields do not have enough irrigation capacity to keep up with evapotranspiration demand during bloom, so yield potential will continue to decline in those fields without rainfall.

The percentage of fruit retention is very good in most fields. The National Weather Service official rainfall in Lubbock is 4.79 inches (43% of normal rainfall January through July). Lubbock has experienced 27 days at or above 100 degrees Fahrenheit thus far in 2022. In 2011, 48 days at or above 100 degrees were recorded.

As fields enter the bloom and boll set phase, daily water use increases rapidly as does nitrogen uptake. Evapotranspiration was high this week because of extreme temperatures. Therefore, fields experienced increased water demand. Many dryland fields are blooming out of the top of the plant.

The intensity of this drought is not as widespread across the High Plains or other regions of Texas as compared to the 2011 drought, although, some counties are just as severe. However, three differences are noted:

1) There was virtually no sub-soil moisture at the beginning of this season while there was sub-soil moisture beginning in 2011.
2) Input costs (electricity, diesel, fertilizer, etc) are generally much higher respective to 2011.

3) Irrigation capacity has declined in most areas since 2011.

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July 15, 2022

Mozena Obtusa Plant Bug Found

West Plains IPM Update by Kerry Siders

Over the last 24 hours I have received several calls about “a bug” that is being found in extremely high numbers. A majority of these inquires are coming from the southwest portion of Hockley County particularly near

Immature Mozena obtusa plant bug on cotton leaf (Photo by K. Siders)

Sundown. So, this “bug’ is a true bug known as Mozena Obtusa Uhler plant bug. If you might recall we dealt with this insect back in August of 2014, mostly out in Cochran County then. The Mozena plant bug is in the family Coreidae, which a group of insects given the common name of leaffooted bug.

The common thread from 2014 to 2022 is our drought conditions. A couple other things: this insects’ primary host is mesquite, a legume. They feed on the beans. Dr. Pat Porter documented feeding on peas and corn in 2014. I noted them in cotton back in 2014, but ot the sheer numbers I am seeing now, and it is a month earlier. Reports from Midland and Odessa area indicate high populations there as well. All of this said, how important is this insect? Honestly in the numbers I have seen in cotton (+20 per cotton plant of the immature) occupying all parts of the plant, I am concerned. As evidence to support this concern is a particular field I scout weekly. Last week square set was perfect at 100% after the first 12 days of squaring. Then this week it dropped to 79%. No other insects, drip cotton, good moisture, no environmental event to point finger at, and yet missing squares not present to dissect to determine possible cause of death.

One think observed in this example I use is we did not find egg masses. Were these immature plant bugs hatched in this field or did they crawl? Understand, immatures do not have functioning wings yet. They can travel quickly on the ground, though. This insect is often treated like a stink bug; however, stink bugs typically do not feed on cotton squares but rather bolls.

Adult Mozena Obtusa plant bug.

I would treat them more like a Lygus when they are present in these numbers (+5 per plant). Although not as damaging as a Lygus would be at these numbers. Dr. Suhas Vyavhare did put out an insecticide trial this morning (7/12/22) to see what works best. Typically, a pyrethroid would be considered first, but concern about flaring aphids always enters the picture. I will keep you informed of the results. Homeowners are calling about this insect as well. The most effective insecticides are the pyrethroid based products. Some examples of pyrethroid active ingredients include: bifenthrin, lambda-cyhalothrin, permethrin, cypermethrin and cyfluthrin. Insecticides, including organic products work best against the nymphal stages so frequent scouting of host plants is recommended to detect early stages of an infestation. When using an insecticide read and follow label directions for safety precautions, rates and preharvest intervals. If you have questions, feel free to call at (806)894-3150.

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Ag Leaders Call on EPA

The Republican Leader of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, Sen. John Boozman (R-Ark.), and the Republican Leader of the House Agriculture Committee, Rep. Glenn “GT” Thompson (R-Pa.), sent a letter to the EPA about the concerning trend of disregarding scientifically-sound, risk-based regulatory processes, and unilaterally denying access to a range of crop protection tools.

In the letter, Boozman and Thompson write, “Russia’s war in Ukraine has sent shockwaves through the global food system resulting in increased energy prices, fertilizer cost spikes and shortages, and worsening food shortages in developing countries. As the world faces an emerging food crisis due to this conflict, our policies should be focused on supporting American production instead of creating further burden and ambiguity for our farmers and ranchers.”

They continue, “We once again seek your assurances and commitment to ensure this Administration and EPA cease the politicization of critical crop protection tools, adhere to a science-based and transparent regulatory process required under FIFRA, and defend the work of its career scientists to overcome these misguided decisions from the Ninth Circuit. Such actions would provide farmers and ranchers a consistent and predictable regulatory process necessary for U.S. producers to continue to feed, fuel, and clothe the world.”

BACKGROUND: The letter follows a previous bicameral letter led by Thompson and Boozman on November 19, 2021, which called on the EPA to rescind its decision to revoke all food tolerances for chlorpyrifos and ensure its future actions related to the registration or registration review of crop protection tools are consistent with the science-based, regulatory process required under EPA’s congressionally mandated authorities. To date, that letter has gone unanswered.

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2022 State of the U.S. Textile Industry

The National Council of Textile Organizations (NCTO) held its annual meeting in May. According to Textile World magazine, NCTO chairman David Poston outlined key industry facts and economic data, noting the industry’s rebound in 2021 in his “State of the U.S. Textile Industry” address. 

“If 2020 was a year marked by an economic downturn and once-in-a-generation pandemic and health crisis, 2021 was defined by a rebound of remarkable proportions in our industry — nearly on par with the performance of pre-pandemic levels in 2019. 

The Numbers

In 2021, the value of U.S. man-made fiber, textile and apparel shipments totaled an estimated $65.2 billion, compared to $60.8 billion in 2021. 

U.S. exports were also up compared to 2020. Exports of fibers, textiles and apparel were $28.4 billion in 2021, compared with $25.3 billion in 2020. 

Capital expenditures have remained strong. Investment in yarn, fabric, apparel and sewn product manufacturing in 2020 hit $1.85 billion. Since 2011, capital investment in U.S. yarn, fabric, apparel and sewn products manufacturing totaled $20.2 billion. 

“We will closely monitor emerging issues this year, including spiking global fuel prices stemming from the Russian war of aggression on Ukraine and mounting inflationary pressures on consumer products, as well as the multitude of other issues highlighted,” Poston concluded.

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July 8, 2022

Free Fall Ends As Market Finds Support

Excerpt Taken From Article By Jeff Thompson, Autauga Quality Cotton

In desperate need of a tourniquet to stop the bleeding, last week’s market did receive some first aid with the help of a limit up move on Wednesday. Even though December futures

According to Jim Wiesemeyer with ProFarmer, JPMorgan Chase & Co. commodity strategist Tracey Allen said about $15 billion moved out of commodity futures markets during the week ended June 24. It was the fourth straight week of outflows totaling about $125 billion that has been pulled from commodities this year, a seasonal record that tops even the exodus in 2020 as economies closed.
Cotton prices unraveled, losing more than a third of its price since early May. Benchmark prices for building materials copper and lumber dropped 22% and 31%, respectively.

gave up a half cent on the week, it was a moral victory considering the prior week’s 21-cent loss. Another positive, the uptrend line remained intact as prices rebounded from a low of 91.20 to close last Friday at 97.48. (PCG Note: Prices closed at 95.63 today.)

Managed Funds remain in control continuing to liquidate their long position. The latest COT report reflective of activity from Wednesday, June 22 through Tuesday, June 28 shows them reducing their longs by 1.4 million bales in addition shorted the market two hundred thousand bales. This equates to a net long position of 4.6 million bales, a significant decline from 9.4 million bales on October 1, 2021, when cotton prices first exceeded a dollar.

Even the insistently long Index funds have been net sellers 13 of the past 16 weeks. Pessimism concerning the world economy, fear of demand destruction, and failing technical charts have all led to this change of heart. Though we find it little consolation, cotton is not alone.

Currently, only 9% of all commodities are trading above their 100-day moving average while a mere 33% are above their 200-day. Economic data certainly warrants such fear, as consumer spending declined 0.4% from the previous month to its lowest level this year due largely to a 6.3% rise in consumer prices.

Nevertheless, current export sales do not reflect a serious decline in demand. But keep in mind the futures market, as the name implies, trades on what it thinks is going to happen in the future and not so much on current conditions. With July now off the board, December futures will take on a life of its own. Expect a great deal of volatility as production numbers become a moving target that will be weighed against world demand.

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Atrazine Registration Reopened

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reopened today the finalized re-registration of atrazine, a widely utilized herbicide in crop production, and is proposing to replace the approved 15 parts per billion (ppb) concentration equivalent level of concern (CE-LOC) in the aquatic assessment with the ultra-low 3.4 ppb CE-LOC proposed in 2016—a severely restricted level not supported by credible scientific evidence that would have a devastating impact on farmers. The comment period will be open in the Federal Register for 60 days. 

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Court Rules in Favor of Rural Phone Providers

The Public Utility Commission must immediately restore over $200 million in past-due support to rural telephone providers from the Texas Universal Service Fund, the Texas Third Court of Appeals ruled.

The fund is a a state program designed to ensure reliable and affordable telecommunications connectivity in rural Texas. The commission “acted without legal authority” when it stopped meeting more than 70% of its service fund obligations in January 2021, the court ruled June 30th.

Plains Cotton Growers Inc. has been involved in this advocacy effort since 2020, joining Sen. Charles Perry (R-Texas) and multiple Texas agriculture agencies in letters to both Gov. Greg Abbott and the Public Utility Commission of Texas. 

“For two years, rural Texans have faced the uncertainty of whether their local phone companies would be able to ride out the financial storm created when the Public Utility Commission stopped funding universal communications services for rural areas of the state — and whether they might face dramatic increases in their phone bills or lose service altogether as a result,” said Rusty Moore, General Manager and COO of BBT Telecom and Board President of the Texas Telephone Association.

The service fund is “a fundamental building block of a connected rural Texas,” Moore said

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Pests Quiet, Some Sneaking In

By Blayne Reed, Texas AgriLife Extension Agent for Hale and Swisher Counties

Almost all fields in the area are irrigated. Dryland fields might not be mentioned for the remainder of the season although a few in the area are still hanging on somewhere just above the permanent wilting point.

The remaining fields are making good progress, rushing through developmental stages rapidly so long as soil moisture is available. A few more pests are creeping into our scouting data sets, but nothing is widespread yet despite some threats out there to keep us on our scouting toes.

Overall I am pretty pleased with weed control but there are some serious battles ongoing with unrelenting weed pressure and a hot, tough to kill weeds environment. 

Full article found in the link on the byline.

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July 1, 2022

USDA Has Issued $557.5 Million in Emergency Relief Program Payments to Texas Agricultural Producers

Eligible producers in Texas have received $557.5 million in funding to date. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) mailed out pre-filled applications in late May to producers with crop insurance who suffered losses due to natural disasters in 2020 and 2021. Commodity and specialty crop producers have until July 22 to complete applications.

“Over the course of the past two years, natural disaster events in Texas have resulted in catastrophic production and property losses for our agricultural producers,” said Kelly Adkins, State Executive Director for Farm Service Agency in Texas. “Although these payments will not make these producers whole, they will help alleviate some of the financial stressors brought on by these severe and devastating weather events.”

“USDA announced that $4 billion of Phase One has been paid out of the expected $6 billion in Phase One payments,” said Tom Sell, J.D., co-founder of Combest, Sell and Associates, at this morning’s Plains Cotton Advisory Group meeting. “However, we have heard that there will be a Phase one-B, where FSA will take in the 2021 area-based policies, crop insurance policies like SCO or STAX and issue letters to producers who may apply. Following this will be Phase Two, which will take in errors from Phase One and a certain window of shallow losses that didn’t trigger crop insurance indemnities. I’m told the Phase One-B payments will be issued in late July with Phase Two payments potentially in late August.”

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Supreme Court Curbs EPA’s Power to Regulate Emissions and Fight Climate Change

The Supreme Court has made it more challenging for the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate greenhouse gases and fight climate change, as justices ruled Thursday in favor of Republican-led states and coal companies that asked the court to limit how much the EPA can control emissions from power plants. The court ruled 6-3 along ideological lines that the EPA does not have the authority under the Clean Air Act to create caps for greenhouse gas emissions. The consolidated cases are known as West Virginia v. EPA.

Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for the court’s conservatives. “Capping carbon dioxide emissions at a level that will force a nationwide transition away from the use of coal to generate electricity may be a sensible ‘solution to the crisis of the day’ ” Roberts wrote, referring to a court precedent. “But it is not plausible that Congress gave EPA the authority to adopt on its own such a regulatory scheme.”

Justice Elena Kagan, writing for the dissenters, countered: “Today, the Court strips the EPA of the power Congress gave it to respond to ‘the most pressing environmental challenge of our time,’ ” referring to another precedent.

GOP-led states and coal companies had sued the Biden administration to limit how much the EPA can regulate emissions from power plants, even though the administration hasn’t actually come up with a rule for those emissions yet. The challengers wanted the Supreme Court to preemptively decide how far the Biden administration can go in terms of regulating the emissions, though the White House argued the court shouldn’t rule against the administration while the issue is still “abstract.”

“The only question before the Court is more narrow: whether the ‘best system of emission reduction’ identified by EPA in the Clean Power Plan was within the authority granted to the Agency in Section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act,” the majority opinion read. “For the reasons given, the answer is no.”

“Today’s news is also a big win for our economy and agriculture in America, as the EPA has been among the worst offenders of usurping congressional authority,” said Arkansas Rep. Rick Crawford, a Republican member of the House Agriculture and Transportation committees. “With the court’s decision today, the EPA, and ultimately other agencies, will have their wings clipped.”

Impacts. While the case was focused on the EPA, critics have warned the court’s ruling could be used to stymie other federal agencies’ abilities to impose regulations and make policies themselves, rather than Congress. “Almost everything about these cases … [is] manufactured in an effort to return to an era free from oversight by the government,” Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) wrote in a brief to the court.

Bottom line: The ruling delivers a blow to Democrats and environmental groups, who want the agency to crack down on emissions from power plants and other sources to mitigate climate change. Also, companies across the board could face a patchwork of rulings by different courts, rather than one agency’s decision, former FCC official Blair Levin told the Washington PostNew York Times writer Coral Davenport told the paper’s Climate Forward newsletter that to meet President Biden’s pledge to cut greenhouse gases 50% from 2005 levels by 2030, most experts say the United States would need a combination of new legislation and aggressive regulations. “This decision takes one of those tools and makes it far less effective,” she said. But the move will likely increase the push in Congress by Democrats to clear a reconciliation package that includes energy-related programs and funding. Also, the court is set to hear a similar case on Waters of the United States laws later this year.

-Jim Wiesemeyer, ProFarmer

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Unwanted or Surplus Agricultural Pesticides?

On Wednesday, August 3rd, dispose of your unwanted or excess pesticides at Moore County Gin (11800 U.S. HWY 287 North, Dumas, Texas 79029) from 8 a.m. to noon.

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Cotton Industry Seeks Volunteer Leaders

The success of the High Plains cotton industry, like any group effort, is directly tied to the willingness of qualified individuals to volunteer to serve in various leadership positions.

PCG encourages all qualified individuals — active producer that has a 578 crop acreage certification —  in the High Plains interested in serving as a representative to the Cotton Board, National Cotton Council or Cotton Incorporated, to contact the PCG office at 806-792-4904 for more information.

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Texas Drought Approaching 2011’s Historic Levels

More than 45% of the contiguous US is currently in drought, with many parts of the southwest experiencing severe, extreme or exceptional drought. And no state has it worse than Texas.

Officials say 2022 is already one for the record books in Texas, with more than 80% of the state facing drought conditions most of the year. Comparisons are already being made to the drought of 2011, with some believing this year could eclipse 2011 as the state’s worst.

About 17% of all land in Texas is experiencing “exceptional” drought, the highest such figure for late June since 2011. That year, over 70% of the state’s land experienced “exceptional” drought in late June.

The driest year on record for Texas was 2011, causing an estimated $7.62 billion in crop and livestock losses.

New data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration shows there is a reason for Texans to be concerned about the weather this year: Last month tied for the warmest May on record in the state, along with May 2018. The early heat was followed by more drought.

The wide-spread drought in West Texas has already surpassed some 2011 records. Midland, Tex., had its driest period on record from September 2021 to May 31, when it received only 8% of its normal rainfall. The second driest was in 2011.

In the same time period, Lubbock experienced its seventh-driest time on record overall, but the driest since 2011. Lubbock also had six days reach 100 degrees or higher from March through May — tying for the third-highest number of 100-degree days in those months in Lubbock’s records, going back to 1914.

Texas can expect more of the same in the season ahead, the lead meteorologist for the state’s principal grid-management agency reported on June 21, the first day of summer.

It’s “close to a lock” that Summer 2022 in Texas will be hotter than last year’s summer, the forecaster, Chris Coleman, told ERCOT’s board. In the immediate prelude to the just-starting summer, May 2022 was hotter in Texas than May 2011, Coleman added.

This article by Greg Henderson was originally published on AgWeb. 

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June 24, 2022

Rep. Glenn "GT" Thompson (R-Pa.)

Chasing Service

How Washing a Fire Truck Led Rep. Glenn “GT” Thompson (R-Pa.) to Ranking Member of the House Agriculture Committee 

By Kara Bishop

Down in the Nittany Valley at the central ridge of the Allegheny Mountains sits Howard, Pennsylvania. This metropolis in Centre County of 720 people and one traffic light is where Rep. Glenn “GT” Thompson (R-Pa.) was born and raised by loving parents. After serving during the Korean War in the U.S. Navy, Thompson’s father went to school to become a tool and dye maker. He would freeze his retirement 15 years later and build a sporting goods store in his front yard, where he and his wife ran the business together.

While most teenagers enjoyed sleeping in on the weekends, Thompson was up at 6 a.m. on Saturdays and Sundays to open the store. “What I wouldn’t give to sleep till six nowadays,” he added.

Thompson’s grandfather was a dairyman, but Thompson’s father couldn’t take over the family business as many dairy farms in the area were lost through eminent domain to build the Foster J. Sayers Dam at the Bald Eagle State Park.

“At least two generations have mostly passed since the first drops of water flowed over the spillway, heading downstream to join the Susquehanna River,” according to the Centre County Gazette. “But the children and grandchildren of the property owners most affected by the dam, or the ‘damn dam’ as they call it, still vividly recall the impact of the project on the town and surrounding farms.” It’s no surprise Thompson adamantly supports private property rights.

The farms Thompson’s family once worked are now at the bottom of a lake in Bald Eagle State Park. Thompson’s father would guide boats across the lake where the family dairy farms once stood — instead of herding cattle, he was herding fisherman. “The irony isn’t lost on me,” Thompson added.

Thompson married into the executive branch. “She was my seventh-grade class president,” he said of his wife, Penny. They were blessed to raise three boys in their hometown and the boys even graduated from the same high school as their father. “Rural living is all I’ve ever known,” Thompson added.

Rep. Glenn "GT" Thompson (R-Pa.) and "Rooster" at the Congressman's home in Howard, Pennsylvania.

Rep. Glenn “GT” Thompson (R-Pa.) and “Rooster” at the Congressman’s home in Howard, Pennsylvania.

It’s been quite a journey for Thompson to become the Ranking Member of the House Agriculture Committee with some unconventional stops along the way.

Health Care
Thompson identified his life purpose at 11 years old. As a Boy Scout, he engaged in many service projects, one of which was washing the city fire trucks. Not only was it one of the highlights of his childhood — who wouldn’t want to climb all over a fire truck? — but it instilled in him a desire to make a difference in the lives of other people. To serve.

To pay for tuition while in college, Thompson worked the night shift of a local nursing home and fell in love with health care. He earned a bachelor’s degree in therapeutic rehabilitation and dual master’s degrees: one in therapeutic rehabilitation and one in health science.

Thompson spent the next 28 years working as a therapist rehabilitation services manager where he worked to restore patients’ quality of life. Sometimes restoration wasn’t possible, but that didn’t stop Thompson. A man in his late 20s had significant neurological impairment from Lyme’s disease and was living as a quadriplegic completely dependent on everyone for survival. When he came to Thompson’s rehabilitation facility, he engaged in aquatic therapy. In water, without gravity to chain him to a chair or bed, he could move his limbs and take a slight step. “We couldn’t help him achieve more mobility or independence in the long term,” Thompson said. “However, watching him achieve a minute amount of freedom while in the water was something I will never forget. Obviously, the aquatic therapy provided physical benefits, but when we got in the water, the emotional lift that man experienced could not be matched.”

More than a decade after he stopped working in therapeutic rehabilitation, people still approach Thompson and thank him for how he changed their child’s life, grandmother’s life, their own life.

From Washing the Fire Truck to Driving It
Living in a small trailer just outside of Howard with his new wife, Thompson lay awake listening to the fire whistle sound off about a mile away. Wee-oww, wee-oww, wee-oww.

He found out the next day that a structure fire had killed a young mom and her infant son.

“I couldn’t handle it,” Thompson added. “I couldn’t handle it.”

He joined the volunteer fire department that day and served just shy of 30 years — 20 of which he spent as president of the company. When asked why he became a state-certified firefighter, EMT and rescue technician, Thompson replied, “There was a need.”

The Road to Congress
Thompson was 12 years old when he won his first election: assistant patrol leader. Years later he ran for an appointment to the Bald Eagle Area School Board. Community involvement was a passion for Thompson and he decided he wanted to take it further.

Thompson ran for state representative and lost. Twice.

A few months after his last loss, Rep. John Peterson (R-Pa.) announced he would not run for reelection.

“I was heartbroken,” Thompson said. “Literally heartbroken because he was my champion. He was my go-to guy, and you would think that I would be celebrating his retirement, right? But I wasn’t.”

Eight people in the Republican Party announced they were running for Peterson’s seat before Thompson threw his hat in the ring. “I was the last one to sign up to run and had no money.” Three of his opponents spent $3.5 million on their campaigns collectively. Thompson raised $24,000 and saved some of it for the celebration party, just in case.

He won the primary by 1%.

The Congressman
After winning the election against Democratic nominee Mark McCracken by 16%, Thompson was the House representative for Pennsylvania’s 5th Congressional District — Thompson was redistricted to the 15th Congressional District in the 2018 election by order of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania.

When he chose to serve on the House Agriculture Committee, he received many questions. “Why would you serve on the ag committee when you’re from Pennsylvania?” Pennsylvania’s biggest commodity is dairy, but it’s surprisingly diverse. According to Thompson, the state boasts the finest hardwoods, many vineyards and fruit trees in the southern region, livestock, multiple row crops are represented, and it’s the world epicenter for mushrooms. After a while though, Thompson got tired of his long explanation to that question and started saying, “I like to eat.”

His tie to the cotton industry is through his friends. “Mike Conaway (House Representative from 2005 to 2021 who served as both chair and ranking member of the House Agriculture Committee.) taught me a lot about cotton and I taught him about trees seeing as he literally had a town in his district called Notrees, Texas,” Thompson added. “He and Colin Peterson (House Representative from 1991 to 2021 who served as both chair and ranking member of the House Agriculture Committee two different times.) both educated me on the cotton industry.”

As Ranking Member of the House Agriculture Committee, Thompson has a seat at all hearings by the full committee and subcommittees. He is present at every hearing. “I work very hard to show up and participate in the subcommittee hearings scheduled — this work is important.”

Looking Toward the 2023 Farm Bill
If Thompson does chair the House Agriculture Committee in November, he plans to prioritize the upcoming Farm Bill and amp up the intensity of discussion. By this time in 2018, 100 Farm Bill hearings by full committee and subcommittees had been conducted. As of June 14, 2022, there have been 12. While frustrated by the slow progress — especially considering almost 200 members of Congress have never voted on a Farm Bill before — Thompson is ready to figure out what works and what doesn’t. “The point of these hearings is to improve upon the previous legislation,” he added. “If it ain’t broke, then don’t fix it. However, there may be some things that need tweaking to benefit our farmers, ranchers and foresters.” When asked about a possible extension of the 2018 Farm Bill, he said, “Extension is better than expiration; however, we’re going to do all we can to get a good bill passed in 2023.”

PCG CEO Kody Bessent, Rep. Glenn "GT" Thompson (R-Pa.), PCG Vice President Travis Mires, and Rep. Ronny Jackson (R-Texas), at the Four Sixes Ranch in Guthrie, Texas.

PCG CEO Kody Bessent, Rep. Glenn “GT” Thompson (R-Pa.), PCG Vice President Travis Mires, and Rep. Ronny Jackson (R-Texas), at the Four Sixes Ranch in Guthrie, Texas.

To prepare in the event he does become chair, Thompson has visited 35 states since January 2021, going on a listening tour of different agricultural sectors. In June 2021, he attended the West Texas Rural Summit and Tour in Lubbock, Texas, and surrounding areas. Plains Cotton Growers Inc. helped educate him on field research and assisted with a tour of the Meadow Farmers Cooperative Gin and Farmhouse Winery. This year, Thompson visited the Four Sixes Ranch in Guthrie, Texas, in May as well as the U.S. Department of Agriculture classing office in Memphis, Tennessee, and attended the Cotton Warehouse Association of America Annual Convention in June.

“I can learn the issues by talking to people about it, but I really like seeing it with my own eyes,” he said. “I want to experience it as the farmers, ranchers, foresters and processors experience it. It’s a blessing to meet all these folks in agriculture and an honor to bring their voices back to Washington D.C. as we work on the Farm Bill.”

While disaster assistance is a topic at hand when looking at the upcoming Farm Bill, Thompson’s concern is the possible weakening of crop insurance. “Are there trends or patterns consistently out there that should be incorporated into crop insurance? I think it’s something we need to think about when evaluating some of these existing programs. If we do implement a permanent disaster relief component, then I would like to see more timely payments.” Thompson also is cautious as to using permanent language. “If we have permanent disaster language in the bill, it will be harder to respond to the actual disasters that farmers, ranchers and foresters are responding to at any given moment.”

With inflation and input costs diminishing high market prices, Thompson is deeply concerned about profits for farm families. “At the end of the day, agriculture is a business,” he said in a Farm Bill Hearing conducted by the Subcommittee on General Farm Commodities and Risk Management. “It’s not about what you bring in — it’s about the profit margin you’re left with. Commodity prices can drop overnight, but once input costs are raised, they’re not going to come back down easily.”

While the journey wasn’t ‘traditional,’ the Boy Scout, sporting goods store worker, health care rehabilitation manager and school board member has always had one goal in mind: improve the lives of those around him. And if all goes as planned, he will chair the committee that writes the 2023 Farm Bill. If only 11-year-old GT could see himself now.

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New FSA Rural Development State Director

Lillian Salerno returns to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) as the Rural Development State Director in Texas with over two decades of experience leading teams in government and industry. 

Prior to her current appointment, Salerno served in the Obama-Biden Administration for six years, first as the Rural Business Administrator and later as Deputy Undersecretary for Rural Development. As Deputy Undersecretary, Lillian was a member of the White House Rural Council where she provided a voice for rural Americans and their concerns regarding economic development, innovation, entrepreneurship and access to capital for new and beginning farmers. 

Salerno holds a bachelor’s degree in Latin American Studies from the University of Texas at Austin, a master’s degree in Criminal Justice from the University of North Texas and a Juris Doctor from Southern Methodist University. She is also a graduate of the Executive Leadership Program offered by Harvard University.

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20th Edition Alternative Crop Guide Released

The “2022 Alternative Crop Options After Failed Cotton and Late-Season Crop Planting for the Texas South Plains” is now available. This resource can help farmers in the Texas High Plains with decisions regarding storm and wind damage, crop options, herbicides that won’t limit these options after failed cotton, and recommended planting dates for many late-season crops.

Download a copy here.

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Glyphosate in the News

Discussion around Glyphosate — a widely used herbicide and the active ingredient in Bayer’s Roundup product — intensified this week, as several court decisions were announced.

Jury Decision Marks Fourth Consecutive Win in in Court for Bayer and Roundup

Last Friday, a jury concluded that Roundup did not cause an Oregon man’s cancer, which, according to Rhonda Brooks with AgWeb, marked the fourth consecutive win in court for the company.

“The jury’s unanimous verdict in favor of the company brings this trial to a successful conclusion and is consistent with the evidence in this case that Roundup does not cause cancer and was not the cause of Mr. Johnson’s (one of the plaintiffs) cancer,” Bayer said, in a prepared statement. “While we have great sympathy for Mr. Johnson, the jury has weighed the evidence from both sides in this case and concluded that Roundup is not responsible for his injuries.”

Court Rejects EPA Glyphosate Analysis

Also on Friday, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled to reject the Environmental Protective Agency’s analysis for determining glyphosate as ‘likely not carcinogenic to people.’ According to Chris Clayton, DTN policy editor, the court ordered EPA to conduct further analysis and explanation. Clayton went on to add:

The ruling, if left standing, will force EPA to re-examine the registration of glyphosate under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) when it comes to whether there is link between glyphosate and cancer.

The ruling came in a pair of cases filed by environmental and farm labor groups against EPA. Several major agricultural groups fighting to keep glyphosate’s registration and usage legal also had intervened in the case.

Bayer AG, in a statement to DTN, cited multiple risk assessments of glyphosate and statements from EPA on the herbicide. Most recently, EPA sent a letter to California regulators in April that the agency “continues to stand behind its robust scientific evaluation and its conclusions regarding glyphosate’s non-carcinogenicity remains consistent with many international expert panels and regulatory authorities.” EPA’s 2020 interim registration also found no association between glyphosate-based herbicides and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, Bayer noted.

Bayer stated: “We believe that the U.S. EPA will continue to conclude, as it and other regulators have consistently concluded for more than four decades, that glyphosate-based herbicides can be used safely and are not carcinogenic, and we are committed to working with the Agency to minimize the environmental impacts of our products. Importantly, the current product registrations remain in place and growers and other users can continue to use the products based on the current label instructions.”

U.S. Supreme Court Rejects Bayer’s Appeal in Roundup-Cancer Case

Three days ago, the U.S. Supreme Court announced its decision to deny Bayer’s bid to hear an appeal for the Roundup/cancer case “Monsanto Co. vs. Hardeman,” according to Gil Gullickson with “Successful Farming.”

Agricultural groups including the American Farm Bureau Federation, American Soybean Association, National Association of Wheat Growers, National Corn Growers Association and National Cotton Council issued the following statement regarding the court’s decision:

“We are disappointed the Supreme Court has decided not to hear this case, which has significant implications for our global food supply and science-based regulation. With the conflict in Ukraine threatening food security around the world and the persistent dangers posed by climate change, too much is on the line to allow the emergence of an unscientific patchwork of state pesticide labels that would threaten grower access to tools needed for productive, sustainable farming. We will be discussing the implications of the court’s announcement and will determine what reforms may be needed to ensure a patchwork of state labels does not jeopardize grower access to these vital tools or science-based pesticide regulation.”

References:

https://www.agweb.com/news/business/technology/jury-decision-marks-fourth-consecutive-win-court-bayer-and-roundup

https://www.dtnpf.com/agriculture/web/ag/crops/article/2022/06/17/ninth-circuit-court-appeals-orders

https://www.agriculture.com/us-supreme-court-rejects-bayer-s-appeal-in-roundup-cancer-case

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New SEC Rule Burdens Farm Operations

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has proposed a rule, “The Enhancement and Standardization of Climate Related Disclosures for Investors,” mandating extensive climate disclosures by public companies — including measured impacts for their entire supply chain. 

According to the American Farm Bureau Federation, this rule negatively impacts many of the farmers and ranchers who feed, fuel and clothe our nation. The agriculture sector provides nearly every raw product that goes in to the supply chain, with a valued contribution of more than $1 trillion to the U.S. GDP in 2020 and employing more than 21 million people. While farmers and ranchers are not public companies and therefore not “registrants” that are required to report directly to the SEC, the obligations they would be under through their related customers could be daunting. 

The proposed rule’s expansive reporting requirements for greenhouse gas emissions not only directly affects farmers’ and ranchers’ operations, but could create several substantial costs and liabilities, such as reporting obligations, technical challenges, significant financial and operational disruption and the risk of financially crippling legal liabilities. 

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June 17, 2022

Legislation to Reduce Farm Input Costs Introduced

On Wednesday, Rep. Glenn “GT” Thompson (R-Pa.), House Agriculture Committee Ranking Member, introduced a new act that would require the Biden Administration to reverse its regulatory barriers to domestic agriculture production and provide immediate relief to families across the country.

Thompson was joined by more than 20 original cosponsors, including Republican Leader of the Natural Resources Committee, Bruce Westerman, and Chairman of the Western Caucus, Dan Newhouse, in support of H.R. 8069 “Reducing Farm Input Costs and Barriers to Domestic Production Act.”

“The U.S. and world face a disrupted global food system resulting in increased energy prices, fertilizer cost spikes and product shortages, and worsening food scarcities in developing countries,” Thompson said in Wednesday’s press conference. “We’re in a crisis moment and need concrete, immediate policy actions to help mitigate impacts both at home and abroad. American agriculture, if given the right tools and regulatory confidence, can serve a vital role in alleviating global food instability and mitigating costs for consumers.”

Specifically, the bill:

  • Provides relief from EPA’s unprecedented actions related to crop protection tools
  • Offers clarity related to WOTUS regulations
  • Rescinds the SEC’s harmful proposed rule on climate-related disclosures
  • Reinstates the 2020 NEPA streamlining
  • Requires an economic analysis on the costs and benefits of GIPSA rules

According to DTN Ag Policy Editor Chris Clayton, Thompson and others highlighted skyrocketing inflation, pointing to farmers paying 115% more for diesel fuel than a year and fertilizer prices more than double what they were a year ago. While Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has exacerbated energy, food and fertilizer inflation, Thompson and other Republicans said the inflationary challenges were already on their way before the war began.

“In fact, since the war in Ukraine began, the administration has continued to take nonsensical regulatory and policy actions that have created needless uncertainty for American farmers, ranchers and working families that have further limited our ability to meet the food demand of our nation and, quite frankly, the world,” Thompson said.

H.R. 8069 is written in response to the House voting on H.R. 7606 “Lower Food and Fuel Costs Act,” which House Democrats maintain would help with food, energy and fertilizer costs. H.R. 7606 would ensure E15 continues year-round, but would also install a special investigator at the U.S. Department of Agriculture to investigate competition issues in the meatpacking industry, which many House Republicans staunchly oppose. However, H.R. 7606 did pass in the House yesterday by a vote of 221 to 204, though Congressman Thompson argued it, “does nothing to lower food and fuel costs.”

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Ocean Shipping Reform Act Signed Into Law

The highly anticipated Ocean Shipping Reform Act was passed by the House on Monday, June 13th, and signed into law by President Biden on Thursday, June 16th.

The bill increases industry transparency while giving the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) more authority as it oversees U.S. shipping and logistics.

According to lawmakers, the bill gives the FMC the tools it needs to cut down on extraneous shipping costs while also prohibiting shipping carriers from leaving American agricultural exports behind.

As retailer container ports are expected to reach near-record volume in June, Congress is hopeful that the bill will help alleviate some of the burden put on major retail companies as they strive to meet consumer demand and protect themselves from disruptions in West Coast ports.

OSRA prevents unjustified and illegal fees collected from American truckers by ocean shipping companies, as well, according to American Trucking Associations President Chris Spear.

The bill passed unanimously in the Senate in March.

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When Looking at Markets, Brace with Faith

With federal spending at an all-time high, and inflation reaching 8.5% — the highest rate since 1982 — it’s safe to say that consumers are struggling. But more importantly, the world economy is struggling.

As of May 2022, gasoline has increased by 48.7% over a 12-month period, with energy coming in second at 34.6%. Food prices have gone up 10.1%, according to the consumer price index, leading House Republicans to write a letter urging President Biden to address the high costs to consumers and farm families alike.

While there is $2 trillion sitting in U.S. household savings accounts, Keith Lucas, vice president of Marketing for Plains Cotton Cooperative Association (PCCA), said this reserve is projected to run out in six to nine months at current inflation rates. “We’re now below pre-pandemic levels as far as savings is concerned,” he added. “People aren’t putting money away mainly because they don’t have it. They’re using everything they have on increased housing, food and fuel costs.”

At the PCCA Delegate Body Meeting Wednesday, Lucas went on to say, “If the U.S. economy is 16% of the world’s economy and the U.S. consumer is 70% of the U.S. economy, the U.S. consumer must represent 11.2% of the world economy. And U.S. consumers are tightening up their money belts.”

According to JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon, a storm is coming when pandemic stimulus money runs out, saying, “You better brace yourself.”

The marketing report at the PCCA meeting was sobering, but resiliency in its finest came when Kevin Brinkley, PCCA President, made the following statement.

“I learned the Farmers Cooperative Association in Tahoka, Texas, is 92 years old while at their annual meeting,” Brinkley said. “When Bryan Reynolds, gin manager, made his statements, I understood why. He said, ‘God is still God. And He’s going to get us through this.’ And I thought that’s how a co-op makes it 92 years — on faith.”

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Pest Management Outlook

Suhas Vyavhare, Ph.D., assistant professor and extension entomologist, and Kerry Siders, M.S., extension agent integrated pest management for Hockley and Cochran Counties, provide insight into pest management for the coming season.

Suhas Vyavhare

“Most of our activities so far have revolved around thrips in the northern areas. I’ve heard reports of some guys spraying for thrips twice, which is unusual. I am seeing a decline in the population, and I also think with highs in the mid-90s, clients are in a better position to recover from thrips moving forward.

“I am now working toward shifting my focus to cotton flea hoppers and plant bugs as we start seeing squares on the plant.”

Kerry Siders

“The recent rains have brought on a flush of weeds, which temporarily will serve as the primary host for all sorts of species whether its plant bugs, larva pests, etc. The weeds are not going to last very long in hot, dry, windy conditions, so unfortunately what islands of green we have irrigated whether it’s cotton, grain sorghum or corn, it’s going to be a magnet for these pests. This is not a certainty, just a warning for everyone to watch for. Pat Porter’s (Texas A&M University professor and extension entomologist) army worm traps have been all over the board, but there are some days where it’s off the charts, which doesn’t bode well.

“We built a high population last year because of the weed species, which wasn’t necessarily reflected in the crop but it was in the weeds. We most likely carried a high number of the population over because of the mild winter. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but these are just things we need to be aware of.

“Also, I wanted to note that we’ve had several producers spraying weeds primarily with dicamba. If your crop gets hailed out or fails in some way, you’re going to want to get it adjusted as quick as you can and probably dry plant some milo or something. If you get a rain or irrigate that up, give yourself at least a two-week window between application of that dicamba and grain sorghum or you’ll risk injury to your new crop.”

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Cotton Industry Seeks Volunteers

The success of the High Plains cotton industry, like any group effort, is directly tied to the willingness of qualified individuals to volunteer to serve in various leadership positions.

PCG encourages all qualified individuals in the High Plains interested in serving as a representative to the Cotton Board, National Cotton Council or Cotton Incorporated, to contact the PCG office at 806-792-4904 for more information.

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June 10, 2022

Joe Outlaw Testifies at House Agriculture Committee Subcommittee on General Farm Commodities and Risk Management Farm Bill Hearing

Joe Outlaw testifies before the Subcommittee on General Farm Commodities and Risk Management

Joe Outlaw testifies before the House Agriculture Committee Subcommittee on General Farm Commodities and Risk Management on June 9, 2022.

On Thursday, the House Agriculture Committee Subcommittee on General Farm Commodities and Risk Management held a hearing to review the 2018 Farm Bill. The hearing is part of a series of hearings by the House Agriculture Committee in preparation for the 2023 Farm Bill. 

Among the expert witnesses who testified was Joe Outlaw, Ph.D., professor, extension economist and co-director of the Texas A&M University Agricultural and Food Policy Center in College Station, Texas.

Subcommittee chair Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-Ill.) called the meeting to order saying that since the 2018 Farm Bill was written, farmers have experienced multiple economic impacts, including a trade war with China, marketing and supply chain disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, historic weather events, and extreme volatility in commodity and input markets — caused, in part, by the Ukraine invasion. “All of these conditions provide indications of how our current Farm Bill has been functioning,” she added.  

The witnesses were asked to testify concerning how commodity programs have worked for producers as a safety net, as well as the role the Federal Crop Insurance Program has played in helping producers manage risk. 

Joe Outlaw Testimony
Outlaw’s testimony summarized a recent report from the Agricultural and Food Policy Center that analyzed farm profitability in 2022, relative to 2021, of 64 representative crop farms in the face of higher input and output prices. The report is titled “Economic Impact of Higher Crop and Input Prices on AFPC’s Representative Crop Farms,” and can be read here.

Key points from his testimony include the following:

  • “While some producers were able to benefit by locking in input prices early in 2021 for this year’s crop, most indicated very little ability to lock in these prices even when using their normal tax management strategy of prepaying inputs. Simply put, the input suppliers would not lock in a price until the producers agreed to take delivery. Almost every respondent stated they were going to do their best to reduce input usage in the face of the highest costs of production they had ever experienced.”
  • “The news is full of stories about inflation that is averaging 8.5% so far this year for the average American. The lowest year-over-year inflation farmers are seeing is twice that on seed with most categories many times higher. Commodity prices, while generally higher in 2022, are up less than 8%. If not for the incredible productivity of the U.S. farmer, there would be a major financial crisis in agriculture.”
  • “Net cash farm income in 2021 included a significant amount of ad hoc assistance. Absent another infusion of assistance in 2022, we estimate that significant increases in input prices will result in a huge decline in net cash farm income in 2022 — compared to 2021.”
  • “The analysis hinges on producers receiving the higher commodity prices forecasted by the Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute with average yields. With drought being experienced across a significant portion of the country and many other areas facing excess moisture, this assumption may be overly optimistic. Having worked with farmers located across the U.S over the last 30 years, I want to make sure you understand we are talking about historic amounts of capital that farmers are putting at risk.”
  • “Throughout my career, I have referred to the programs in Title I and Title XI as the three-legged stool that serves as the safety net for U.S. producers. The specific commodity programs in Title I have changed over that time, but all generally have the same objective to make-up for shortfalls in prices or incomes. The current programs, agriculture risk coverage (ARC) and price loss coverage (PLC) and the non-recourse commodity loan program, serve as two of the legs while the federal crop insurance program serves as the third leg.”
  • “The following are what I believe to be the most significant shortcomings of all three legs of the stool. Most of my suggestions require additional resources that may be difficult to secure but are necessary.”
    • “Price loss coverage (PLC) was established in the 2014 Farm Bill using the cost of production as the basis for setting the level of protection for each covered commodity through reference prices. Counter-cyclical price protection programs like PLC have been used in the U.S. since the 1970s with the notable exception of the 1996 Farm Bill. In the PLC program, I believe your colleagues decided to cover a significant amount (roughly 75 to 85%) of total costs of production realizing the likely negative consequences of providing price protection at higher levels. PLC rates worked fine while inflation was fairly low; however, the reference prices set in the 2014 Farm Bill and continued in the 2018 Farm Bill are in dire need of increases to remain relevant. Producers’ costs have increased substantially, and the current reference prices are not providing a relevant amount of protection.”
    • “Agriculture risk coverage (ARC) was also established in the 2014 Farm Bill as a second attempt at providing producers a revenue-based safety net program to replace the overly complicated and not widely used average crop revenue election (ACRE) program first used in the 2008 Farm Bill. ARC uses a 5-year moving average of historical prices and yields to establish a benchmark that is used to determine the level of protection producers receive. While good when coming off of relatively high prices, ARC proved worthless when prices declined and remained relatively flat, providing little protection to producers. This is why that while widely chosen over PLC early in the 2014 Farm Bill, ARC was largely abandoned as a choice of safety net program in recent years. The problem with ARC is that it assumes the historical revenue levels were the appropriate levels that producers should be supported at without any basis such as protecting some level of costs for making that claim. Since ARC has the reference price embedded in the calculations, raising reference prices will make ARC more attractive as a revenue protection safety net alternative.”
    • “Assuming these two alternatives are used going forward, instead of forcing producers to pick the tool (ARC or PLC) they want, I would suggest allowing them to receive the benefits of whichever is higher in a given year. This would cost nothing more than if the producers have chosen wisely and selected the appropriate tool and would take a major decision away that only serves as a major distraction to their work in trying to grow a crop. Historically high input costs have also highlighted the shortcomings of basing the safety net on prices and/or gross incomes alone. This may present an opportunity to explore adding margin coverage. However, ARC & PLC have been popular, so I would urge you to proceed with caution. Dairy offers an instructive example. Dairy margin coverage was added in the 2014 Farm Bill, but the initial version was a flop that has taken years (and a lot of money) to improve.”
    • “The non-recourse marketing loan program works as it was designed more than four decades ago; however, despite modest increases for some commodities in the 2018 Farm Bill, the rates have largely remained unchanged over the past 30 years, losing ground to inflation. Providing producers the ability to take out a storage loan or receive a loan deficiency payment on a crop is a very useful marketing tool. The rates need to be raised to increase the amount of the crop that is being protected which will cost money but is significantly less expensive to do at current price levels.”
    • “Federal crop insurance is an enormously successful public-private partnership that today stands as the primary safety net tool for U.S. producers. This is due to the program largely using futures prices to annually adjust the amount of protection producers can select. While crop insurance is popular with producers, the little-known secret in the farming community is that bankers “encourage” producers to purchase buy-up levels of crop insurance as a means of protecting the producer and the operating loan banks make to producers. As I have said many times in front of Congress… do no harm to crop insurance and stop outside interest groups from tying provisions of their pet projects to crop insurance – for example, linking climate change practice adoption to insurance program subsidy levels. This runs the risk of creating an unlevel playing field for producers by distorting protection levels and leaving some producers with less protection due to their lack of feasible climate change mitigation alternatives.”
  • “While this hearing is about the farm bill, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the last 5 years of ad hoc disaster assistance. I believe the upcoming farm bill provides a clear opportunity to help address some of the shortcomings ad hoc assistance was designed to address. In the case of WHIP, WHIP+, and ERP, they all essentially are designed to help cover the large deductibles producers face in their crop insurance policies. While the ad hoc assistance over the last 5 years has been vital, it comes LONG after the disaster has come and gone and has been limited to specific causes of loss. Perhaps most important, ad hoc assistance is, by definition, not guaranteed. Farmers already face enough risks and uncertainty – ideally, they wouldn’t have to guess at what the safety net might look like as they struggle to put a crop in the ground.”

To watch the livestream of the hearing, click here.

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Texas Upland Cotton Planting Progress Chart

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Ranking Members Boozman, Thompson Call on White House to Withdraw Brief in Roundup Case

Sen. John Boozman (R-Ark.), ranking member of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry and Rep. Glenn “GT” Thompson (R-Pa.), ranking member of the House Committee on Agriculture, are calling on the Biden administration to withdraw its current brief before the Supreme Court in a case involving the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) federal registration authority of Roundup, an essential glyphosate-based herbicide used for crop protection.

In a letter to President Biden, the ranking members question the White House’s rationale for filing the brief based on a “change in administration” and seek answers as to why the Solicitor General modified its long-standing position that EPA maintains federal preemption authority on all crop protection tools without consulting the relevant agency subject matter experts.

“Such a reversal coupled with the lack of consultation with subject matter experts is incredibly concerning. Simply citing a ‘change in administration’ as a cause and justification for completely undermining an agency’s federal preemption authority, clearly established by Congress, is egregious. The Solicitor General’s actions not only insert significant ambiguity into FIFRA [Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act], but also upends a host of statutory preemption authorities and the general use of crop protection tools, and further threatens global food security,” Boozman and Thompson wrote.

The ranking members’ letter spells out the negative long-term consequences the Ninth Circuit’s decision would have should it be allowed to stand.

“If the Ninth Circuit’s decision is left in place, not only will growers lose a critical tool from their toolbox, but EPA’s registration process will eventually evolve into a state-by-state patchwork that will thwart the science-based and risk-based process Congress has specifically directed EPA to carry out.  Importantly, any marketplace confusion will take place during an emerging global food crisis and growing food insecurity,” Boozman and Thompson wrote.

Read the full letter here.

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West Texas Agricultural Chemicals Institute Annual Meeting Scheduled

Save the Date WTACI Annual Meeting September 14th

The 70th West Texas Agricultural Chemicals Institute (WTACI) Annual Meeting will be held at the FiberMax Center for Discovery on Sept. 14, 2022.

“We have a great speaker lineup that will tackle weather, multi crop IPM, weeds and more,” said Joni Blount, WTACI president. “There will also be a panel on supply chain issues and what to expect in the future with views from distributors, fertility experts and growers.” 

Follow WTACI on Facebook and Twitter for more information.

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June 3, 2022

Quentin, Logan, Hayden, Kristin and Kinley Shieldknight

Quentin, Logan, Hayden, Kristin and Kinley Shieldknight

Faces of Cotton: Quentin Shieldknight

April 8, 2021

Quentin Shieldknight was in the worst shape of his life — or so he thought. “Man,” he said looking at one of his field hands while working in the grain bins, “There’s got to be something wrong here. I can’t breathe.”  

Tomorrow I’m hitting the gym, he thought as he struggled to distract himself from the pain in his legs.  He finds the auger plugged up at the bottom of the grain bin and he and his team begin kicking it and hitting it with a long rod trying to break up the clog. He starts panting, then panicking as he struggles to bring breath into his lungs. “Quentin, man, you got to get out of here,” the hands yelled at him. He slowly makes his way to his pickup holding his head in his hands, willing himself to calm down so he can breathe normally. He sits there for two hours. Something’s not right.

Shieldknight Land and Cattle: It’s a Family Affair

Quentin Shieldknight, a fourth-generation farmer, runs a family business planting corn and cotton while raising commercial and registered Red Angus cattle in Spearman, Texas. His dad, Fred, still shows up to work every day. “I’ve told him to go enjoy his grandkids and semi-retire,” Quentin said. “But he’s still boss and shows up every morning to run the show.”

His sister, Kelly Jack and her husband Ty are both heavily involved in the operation.  Kelly is the accountant and office manager, while Ty handles maintenance and manages cattle.  Quentin’s cousin, Colby, also works on the farm helping run the cattle side of the business, while aunt Marcia takes care of life insurance and generational succession planning.

His younger sister Clara developed the farm’s website and her husband, Chris, manages the farm’s security and information technology operations. They live and work in Borger, Texas, but have two boys, Cy, and Cal, who love coming to help at the farm, while simultaneously throwing dirt and calling coyotes.

Quentin went to Texas A&M University where he met his wife, Kristin. “Literally sat on the bus next to her on the way to ‘fish camp’ as incoming freshmen,” he added. They will be celebrating their 18th wedding anniversary this year and have three children: Kinley (14), Hayden (11) and Logan (8). Kristin is the director of innovation and technology for Spearman Independent School District, and their children are heavily involved in FFA, 4-H, athletics and, of course, the family farm.

April 9, 2021

After going to bed with a fever, Quentin gets up the next day to work cattle. However, he finally gives up at lunch and heads to the hospital. They run some tests and he lets the nurse know he can’t breathe. Pulse oxygen reading is questionable so they take an X-ray of his chest. It’s probably because I’ve been in a grain bin for two days, he thinks to himself, that’s why my lungs don’t sound right. After the X-ray, hospital staff decide to do a CT scan and tell Quentin to go home and keep his phone close — they’ll call in four to five hours when they get the results. They end up calling him 10 minutes later before he’s even left the hospital.

From Corn to Cotton

After earning his bachelor’s degree in agronomy and plant and soil science, Shieldknight became a certified crop adviser. He provided crop consulting in the Spearman area through a private company, an experience that enhanced his success in his own farming operation. Shieldknight Land and Cattle farms 10,000 acres and has 650 cows in the herd (not including calves and bulls).

Cotton is up in the rotation for this crop season, having planted mainly corn and milo last year. In May, Quentin and company planted 2,800 acres of irrigated cotton and about 3,000 acres of dryland. “We had our first circle of cotton in 2011, and it fared better than the corn did,” he said. “In preparation for this year, we are planting more cotton than corn hoping to make a decent crop.”

The Shieldknight farm engaged in conventional tillage practices until 2003. “I think my degree helped me bring some conservation practices back to the farm,” Shieldknight added. “When I came back, we started strip-tilling and we’re now a strip-till, minimum-till farm.” They also implemented cover crops into their operation in the last three years. “We’re still learning on that, but I think we’ll eventually get it figured out and reap the benefits,” he said.

Learning to apply cover crops in a low rainfall area has its challenges. So far, the Shieldknights have tried tillage radish, rapeseed, cow peas and winter peas. This summer, they’ll be planting some millet blends in combination with cow peas, working with Jeff Miller, owner of ForeFront Agronomy LLC. Since they planted corn and milo last year, they left the stalks up for cover this spring. “We’ve had fields blow out so many times and really don’t want that to happen this year,” he added. “I guess you could call us trashy cotton farmers.”

April 9, 2021

All of a sudden, everyone is in the emergency room lobby looking for him. A nurse grabbed his arm, saying, “Mr. Shieldknight, you need to go back to your room right now and I suggest you call your wife.” He lays down only to feel a huge needle immediately jabbed into his stomach. His primary care physician was driving in from out of town, battling 65 mile-per-hour winds to get to the hospital.  

The emergency department attending physician walks into Quentin’s room. “You have blood clots in your lungs, Mr. Shieldknight,” he said. “They’re really bad — I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a set of lungs with this many clots in them, ever.”

All he could think of was, are you kidding me? And then it hit him. His uncle died from a blood clot in 2011. This is serious. The nurse places an oxygen mask over his face.

From Beef to Compost

Not only does Shieldknight run the family business, but last fall, he co-founded a gypsum and compost business with Caleb Patterson, serving Spearman, Perryton, and Gruver areas. He said they don’t really have an official business name, adding, “We’re the crap spreaders — that’s the nicest way to say it anyway.”

Summertime is also beef time. Shieldknight Land and Cattle sells beef from Spearman all the way down to south of Houston, making them a state-wide beef operation.

They project to sell 80 whole beefs this year — they also sell quarters and half-sides.  “We’re blessed to be able to feed people,” Shieldknight added. “And it’s important that we do it the right way and help communities.”

To advance this effort, Shieldknight Land and Cattle will be opening beef stores where small towns have lost their grocers. They opened their first one in Shelby’s Bridge Gift & Thrift Shop in Sudan, Texas, this May. They are in talks with other small communities to help them bridge gaps in their meat supply as well.

April 9, 2021

While he’s trying to gather his composure, his aunt Marcia bursts into the room. Everyone is trying to talk to him, but she says, “Stop! I’m going to pray.” Everyone stops. And she prays, “Father God, please heal Quentin’s lungs, dissolve the clots, and be with the doctors and nurses as they care for him. Please heal him in Jesus’ name.” As a community pastor joins his aunt in prayer, the care team is calling an ambulance — though they wish it were a helicopter. “I have medivac insurance,” he tells them, giving a nurse his insurance card. The doctor calls the helicopter staff who say, “We can’t get there in this wind.” The doctor decides to send Quentin’s scans to the helicopter staff. They call back. “We’ll be there in 10 minutes.”

They transport him from Hansford Hospital to BSA Hospital in Amarillo, Texas. As he’s in flight, his labored breathing begins to ease to the point where he no longer needs the oxygen mask. A calm comes over him during the helicopter ride. I’m going to be OK, he says to himself. I’m going to be OK.

To this day, Quentin’s hematologist can’t believe he’s still alive. Every time, he walks into a follow-up appointment, the doctor says, “I’ve never seen that many clots in a set of lungs ever and the patient survive.”

Quentin has Factor V Leiden Thrombophilia, an inherited blood clotting disorder. He will be on blood thinners for the rest of his life. While farming is tough, staring death in the face can shift your perspective.

“How do you survive if you don’t have faith in the farming industry?” he asked. “I don’t know how you do it without faith. Besides 2011, I don’t know if it’s ever been this hard to just get going, get the crop in and stay motivated.

“But every day, I’m still breathing. Every day, I still have something to look forward to. I used to be in the worst mood every evening when I came home — made my family miserable. But lying in a hospital bed thinking that I was about to meet my Maker woke me up. This life is hard. It’s unfair. But the reward is just around the corner if we just keep going. It’s going to be a great year, one way or another.”

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Top 10 Takeaways from FSA/RMA Call on ERP

The Southwest Council of Agribusiness met with a number of staff from USDA’s Farm Service Agency and Risk Management Agency on Wednesday to address the many Emergency Relief Program-related questions agents are receiving.

Below are the key takeaways from the call.

  1. Phase 1 only includes producers who received an indemnity on their MPCI policy.  Shallow losses and losses on endorsement policies (SCO, ECO, STAX, HIP, etc.) were not included in the pre-filled applications sent under Phase 1.  Such cases will be addressed in Phase 2. 
  2. The cause of loss listed on an insurance claim was not considered when applications were pre-filled for Phase 1. Therefore, the D2 drought for eight weeks requrement and the maps we previously reported are no longer relevant. There is no need for insurance agents to change the cause of loss on a previous claim to align with a covered loss under ERP.  Producers need to simply certify that the production loss in question falls under a cause of loss listed for ERP (like excessive heat). Producers would be wise to note this covered cause of loss on their FSA-520. Please note this could also apply, for example, to hail losses that might also be attributed to “excessive moisture” and “related conditions”.
  3. The share portion (column 13) of the ERP application should be filled out according to the crop insurance policy.  This was included on the application to reconcile differences between RMA and FSA share reporting. This is not a place to re-certify FSA shares.
  4. ERP is not designed to cover grazing losses under Pasture, Rangeland, and Forage (PRF) and Annual Forage (AF).  RMA was able to delineate PRF policies, and only include qualifying policies intended for haying and exclude grazing.  RMA was unable to delineate the difference on AF policies.  AF policies intended for forage or hay should be submitted to FSA.  AF policies intended solely for grazing were covered under ELRP and should have received a LFP top-up payment and should not be reported under ERP. (Please note we are seeking further clarification on this).
  5. Socially disadvantaged, beginning, and veteran farmers and ranchers qualify for a 15% increase in their ERP payment — but their initial payment will still be subject to the 25% adjustment.  For an entity to qualify for socially disadvantaged, beginning, or veteran status at least 50% of the interest must qualify under the intended category. Meaning a 50%/50% husband and wife joint venture can qualify as socially disadvantaged if they so certify.  The form can be found here
  6. Phase 1 will be paid at 75% of the calculated amount on the pre-filled application.  The reduction is not incorporated into the calculation (column 11) on the pre-filled applications received by producers.
  7. Phase 1 currently only includes insurance claims that have a loss date from 1/1/2020 to 12/31/2021.  If the loss date falls at the end of 2019 or the beginning of 2022 no pre-filled application will be received.  FSA is currently looking into this issue regarding producers who had a cause of loss that started in late 2019 and continued into 2020 causing a prevent plant claim on a 2020 crop.
  8. Phase 2 is designed to be a catch all for any producer who is not covered in Phase 1.  FSA does not currently have a date for the roll out of Phase 2.  Phase 2 would cover scenarios including: shallow losses, losses on endorsements, no crop insurance purchased, and other producers not included in Phase 1.
  9. Entities can certify by Form 510 that 75% or more of their income comes from farming and receive a higher payment limit. 
  10. Producers with an indemnity on a 2021 policy that had STAX, SCO, ECO, MP, or ARPI will not receive a pre-filled application until a later date when data is available.  This will not be Phase 2 but a separate mailing under Phase 1 expected late summer.  

Formula Explanation

We have been including the formula from the FSA/RMA fact sheets, but we agree it is confusing.   Here is another way of stating it that we believe is clearer.

Estimated ERP Payment (Box 11) = Target Revenue minus (-) calculated revenue 

Target revenue is the “Expected Value of the Crop” (APH x Price Guarantee) multiplied by the relevant “ERP factor”.

Calculated revenue is the sum of “Actual Value” (realized production x price) plus any “Crop Insurance Proceeds” (MPCI, SCO, ECO, STAX, etc.) less or minus “Producer Premiums and Administration Fees”.

The “Estimated ERP Payment” in Box 11 of the FSA Form 520 is the difference between this target revenue and calculated revenue.

USDA officials will continue to update ERP’s frequently asked questions website which can be found here

The CS&A cheat sheet is also updated to take out the maps and deemphasize the importance of county designations.  It can be accessed here

Additionally, the previously shared packet from RMA can be accessed here

-Information Provided by the Southwest Council of Agribusiness. 

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U.S. Cotton Consumption Increased

Results from the most recent economic evaluation of the Cotton Research and Promotion Program found strong, positive returns for cotton producers and importers as a result of the Program. The study shows that consumption of cotton products has increased by about 14 percent thanks to the program. That is approximately 2.47 million bales more annually. The full report is available here.

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In the News

Farm Bill Field Hearing Scheduled in Arkansas – The Senate Agriculture Committee has scheduled its second farm bill field hearing in the home state of the committee’s top Republican, Sen. John Boozman (R-Ark.).  The hearing will be held on June 16 in Jonesboro, Arkansas and will be livestreamed here.

 

USDA Announces Signup for the Commodity Container Assistance Program – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced USDA will begin accepting applications for the Commodity Container Assistance Program (CCAP).  USDA’s Farm Service Agency will make payments to eligible owners or designated marketing agents of U.S. agricultural commodities based on the number of eligible shipping containers utilized from March 1, 2022, through December 31, 2022, from the Port of Oakland or the Northwest Seaport Alliance to ship agricultural commodities to their designated markets on container ships. Eligible commodities include agricultural commodities (other than tobacco) which are grown or produced in the United States for food, feed, or fiber, and products made from those commodities, including certain forestry products.  Read more here.

 

Chinese Interest in U.S. Ag Assets Could Pose Security Risks, Federal Report Says –A report by the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission warns China could gain further leverage over U.S. supply chains by purchasing agribusinesses and land in the United States, reduce U.S. competitiveness by stealing intellectual property, and create bioweapons using DNA from genetically modified American crops. Read more here.

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New Heat Unit Calculator Available

High Plains Heat Unit CalculatorAn all-inclusive heat unit calculator has been brought back to the High Plains. “We’ve felt the absence of this tool for the last few years, and are excited that it has been brought back,” said Kody Bessent, PCG CEO. “It’s a unique tool that will be valuable as we move into the fall.”

To view the heat unit calculator, please visit:
cotton-stress-lab.us/locations. 

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May 27, 2022

It Rained!

Prior to the rains this week, 90% of Texas was covered in drought, with West Texas and the Panhandle under the most severe conditions. More than 3 inches of rain fell in Muleshoe, while Lubbock recorded 0.82 inches.

Plainview producer Steve Olson said more chances of rain were in the forecast. 

“It totally changed the game for us,” he told Farm Journal. “I absolutely believe it saved some of our crop. At least we have a chance to produce a crop now, while before there was no hope.” 

“Hopefully this moisture will aid planted fields and help those waiting on moisture to get planters going,” Murilo Maeda, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Cotton Specialist-Lubbock, reported in the latest AgFax newsletter. “Across Texas, growers have continued to make progress. 

The latest USDA crop progress report indicates 44% of cotton acres planted, up from 30% last week.

The recent rains eased some of the more exceptional and extreme drought conditions in the PCG region.

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Mental Health and Agriculture: There is Always Hope

Agriculture is known to have numerous unique occupational hazards. Physical hazards include heat and sun exposure and the potential dangers of working with heavy machinery. Working out in the elements also brings the risk of venomous snakes, spiders, and disease-carrying mosquitos. What is less often discussed, however, are the mental and emotional hazards associated with working in agriculture. The volatile farm economy, long days at work, social isolation, and natural disasters can add stress beyond what is expected or tolerated in other industries.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month and is a significant opportunity to remind anyone struggling that they are not alone and do not have to suffer in silence. A 2021 poll commissioned by the American Farm Bureau Federation found that farmers and farm workers were more comfortable talking to friends, family, and doctors about stress and mental health than in 2019. Open dialogue about stress and mental wellbeing can help reduce stigma in the community, which is often cited as a barrier to seeking care for a mental health challenge. Emotional wellness is a key dimension of our health and must be maintained, just like physical wellness, to live a fulfilling life. If you are struggling or notice someone else struggling, seek help. Recovery from a mental health challenge or illness, like recovery from a heart attack or other physical illness, is possible.  There is always hope.

The following resources are designed for agricultural producers and families:

Authors:  Miquela Smith, MPH Extension Program Specialist – Health and Tiffany Dowell Lashmet, Associate Professor & Extension Specialist – Ag Law

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Cotton Industry Seeks Volunteer Leaders

The success of the High Plains cotton industry, like any group effort, is directly tied to the willingness of qualified individuals to volunteer to serve in various leadership positions.

PCG encourages all qualified individuals in the High Plains interested in serving as a representative to the Cotton Board, National Cotton Council or Cotton Incorporated, to contact PCG CEO Kody Bessent at 806-792-4904 for more information.

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USDA to Allow Producers to Request Voluntary Termination of CRP Contract

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will allow Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) participants who are in the final year of their CRP contract to request voluntary termination of their CRP contract following the end of the primary nesting season for fiscal year 2022. 

Participants approved for this one-time, voluntary termination will not have to repay rental payments, a flexibility implemented this year to help mitigate the global food supply challenges caused by the Russian invasion of Ukraine and other factors. 

USDA also announced additional flexibilities for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP).  

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Top Six ERP Checklist Items for Eligible Farmers

Today we began mailing 303,000 pre-filled applications for the Emergency Relief Program (ERP), a new program designed to help agricultural producers impacted by wildfires, droughts, hurricanes, winter storms, and other qualifying natural disasters experienced during calendar years 2020 and 2021.

To apply for ERP Phase 1, here’s what you need to do:

1. Check Your Mailbox

The form being mailed to you includes eligibility requirements, outlines the application process, and provides estimated ERP payment calculations. Producers will receive a separate application form for each program year in which an eligible loss occurred. Receipt of a pre-filled application is not confirmation that a producer is eligible to receive an ERP phase one payment. This application takes about 0.176 hours (that’s less than 15 minutes) for producers to complete, compared to the former Wildfire and Hurricane Indemnity Program – Plus application which took several hours for producers to complete and even longer for FSA staff.

The deadline to return completed ERP applications to FSA is Friday, July 22, 2022.

If you have NAP coverage, you will receive pre-filled ERP applications later this summer. Details on ERP Phase 2 will be forthcoming as well.

Sample form

First page of the Emergency Relief Program (ERP) Phase 1 application mailed to eligible farmers on May 25, 2022

2. Check Your Eligibility

ERP covers losses to crops, trees, bushes, and vines due to a qualifying natural disaster event in calendar years 2020 and 2021.

Eligible crops include all crops for which crop insurance or NAP coverage was available, except for crops intended for grazing.

Qualifying natural disaster events include wildfires, hurricanes, floods, derechos, excessive heat, winter storms, freeze (including a polar vortex), smoke exposure, excessive moisture, qualifying drought*, and related conditions.

*Lists of 2020 and 2021 drought counties eligible for ERP are available online.

3. Check Required Forms on File with FSA

Producers must have the following forms on file with FSA:

  • Form AD-2047, Customer Data Worksheet.
  • Form CCC-902, Farm Operating Plan for an individual or legal entity.
  • Form CCC-901, Member Information for Legal Entities (if applicable).
  • Form FSA-510, Request for an Exception to the $125,000 Payment Limitation for Certain Programs (if applicable).
  • A highly erodible land conservation (sometimes referred to as HELC) and wetland conservation certification (Form AD-1026 Highly Erodible Land Conservation (HELC) and Wetland Conservation (WC) Certification) for the ERP producer and applicable affiliates.

If you have previously participated in FSA programs, you will likely have these required forms on file. However, if you’re uncertain or want to confirm the status of your forms, contact your local FSA county office.

4. Check Historically Underserved Status with FSA, If Applicable

The ERP payment percentage for historically underserved producers, including beginning, limited resource, socially disadvantaged, and veteran farmers, and ranchers will be increased by 15% of the calculated ERP payment.

To qualify for the higher payment percentage, eligible producers must have the following form on file with FSA:

  • Form CCC-860, Socially Disadvantaged, Limited Resource, Beginning and Veteran Farmer or Rancher Certification.

5. Check Your Future Insurance Coverage

All producers who receive ERP phase one payments are statutorily required to purchase crop insurance, or NAP coverage where crop insurance is not available, for the next two available crop years, as determined by the Secretary.

Coverage requirements will be determined from the date a producer receives an ERP payment and may vary depending on the timing and availability of crop insurance or NAP for a producer’s particular crops. The final crop year to purchase crop insurance or NAP coverage to meet the second year of coverage for this requirement is the 2026 crop year.

6. Check Your bank

Once the completed ERP application for payment is submitted to and signed by FSA, producers who have direct deposit should look for payment within three business days.

More Information

We have additional resources, including:

– Zach Ducheneaux, Administrator of USDA’s Farm Service Agency

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May 20, 2022

Emergency Relief Program’s Payment Calculations

As announced in Monday’s Cotton News, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) announced the Emergency Relief Program (ERP) on May 16th. The ERP represents the next round of disaster assistance authorized by last fall’s Extending Government Funding and Delivering Emergency Assistance Act, which authorized $10 billion to help crop and livestock producers impacted by adverse weather conditions that occurred during the 2020 and 2021 calendar years. 

The announcement is good news for producers who have been waiting more than eight months for the program. “This week’s announcement of the Emergency Relief Program has been highly anticipated for several months,” explains Kody Bessent, Plains Cotton Growers Inc. (PCG) chief executive officer. “PCG, working alongside the National Cotton Council, Congress and other advocacy groups, has been encouraging the USDA to implement the program as quickly as possible to deliver this much-needed assistance to producers.

“We appreciate FSA working to streamline the application process and incorporating the changes Congress approved. The efforts are intended to improve the program as compared to disaster assistance provided to growers for losses incurred in 2018 and 2019 through WHIP-Plus.” 

Details on how the USDA FSA plans to deliver ERP are still somewhat sparse, however, the publication of the Federal Register notice announcing the availability of funds for the program, published on May 18th, paints a picture of how FSA will proceed. We now have information regarding ERP coverage factors and how payments will be calculated, as well as how FSA will apply pay limits, determine payment eligibility and other components of the program.

Simply put, the Phase 1 ERP benefit will be calculated using a similar formula as the previously implemented WHIP-Plus program and prorated by 75% to ensure that total ERP payments do not exceed available funding. Phase 1 ERP payment calculations will be based on the type and level of crop insurance obtained by the producer using the ERP factor in place of the insurance coverage level.  This calculated amount will then be adjusted by subtracting the net crop insurance indemnity already received for losses minus service fees and producer-paid premiums.

Based on PCG and NCC’s interpretation of the ERP rule, below are a few regional examples of potential disaster assistance to the producer. Any discrepancy in payment once a producer receives the official USDA pre-filled application must be done by contacting their crop insurance agent if a producer believes any of the information on the form is incorrect and, as we understand the program today, the adjusted payment will be corrected in the implementation of Phase 2 ERP at a later date.

 

ERP Revenue Protection (RP) Upland Cotton Payment Example – Hansford County

  ERP 2020 ERP 2020
  Irrigated Non-irrigated
RP Coverage Level 65% 65%
Projected Price $0.68 $0.68
Harvest Price $0.69 $0.69
APH 1200 500
Actual Yield 725 300
Expected Crop Value (max(Projected Price, Harvest Price) * APH) $828.00 $345.00
Actual Crop Value (Harvest Price * Actual Yield) $500.25 $207.00
RP Guarantee (RP Coverage Level * Expected Crop Value) $538.20 $224.25
RP Indemnity (RP Guarantee – Actual Crop Value) $37.95 $17.25
RP Producer Premium $24.40 $15.49
RP Net Indemnity (RP Indemnity – RP Producer Premium) $13.55 $1.76
ERP Coverage Level 87.5% 87.5%
ERP Guarantee (ERP Coverage Level * Expected Crop Value) $724.50 $301.88
ERP Indemnity (ERP Guarantee – Actual Crop Value – RP Net Indemnity) *(75% Prorated Factor) $158.03 $69.84

*Calculations based on interpretation of ERP rule by Plains Cotton Growers and National Cotton Council.

*Examples based on February projected price period and October harvest price period.

*The structure of payment calculations for WHIP+ and ERP are similar except the ERP expected crop value is calculated using the higher of the projected price and harvest price.  WHIP+ only used the projected price to calculate the expected crop value.

 

ERP Revenue Protection (RP) Upland Cotton Payment Example – Crosby County

  ERP 2020 ERP 2020
  Irrigated Non-irrigated
RP Coverage Level 65% 65%
Projected Price $0.68 $0.68
Harvest Price $0.69 $0.69
APH 1000 350
Actual Yield 650 175
Expected Crop Value (max(Projected Price, Harvest Price) * APH) $690.00 $241.50
Actual Crop Value (Harvest Price * Actual Yield) $414.00 $120.75
RP Guarantee (RP Coverage Level * Expected Crop Value) $448.50 $156.98
RP Indemnity (RP Guarantee – Actual Crop Value) $34.50 $36.23
RP Producer Premium $21.55 $21.46
RP Net Indemnity (RP Indemnity – RP Producer Premium) $12.95 $14.77
ERP Coverage Level 87.5% 87.5%
ERP Guarantee (ERP Coverage Level * Expected Crop Value) $603.75 $211.31
ERP Indemnity (ERP Guarantee – Actual Crop Value – RP Net Indemnity) *(75% Prorated Factor) $132.60 $56.85

*Calculations based on interpretation of ERP rule by Plains Cotton Growers and National Cotton Council.

*Examples based on February projected price period and October harvest price period.

*The structure of payment calculations for WHIP+ and ERP are similar except the ERP expected crop value is calculated using the higher of the projected price and harvest price.  WHIP+ only used the projected price to calculate the expected crop value.

USDA FSA intends to start mailing pre-filled applications to eligible participants as early as May 23rd for losses incurred in 2020 and 2021. Phase 1 is based on completed crop insurance or NAP loss records. Separate application forms will be generated for each production year. Please note that FSA will mail application forms for policy holders with 2021 crop year coverage under Stacked Income Protection (STAX), Supplemental Coverage Option (SCO), Enhanced Coverage Option (ECO), Margin Protection (MP), and Area Risk Protection Insurance (ARPI) when the final data for these products becomes available.

Producers who receive ERP Phase 1 payments are required to purchase crop insurance at a coverage level equal to or greater than 60% for the next two available crop years, just as they did with WHIP-Plus. Phase 2 ERP will be implemented at a later date and will fill gaps and cover producers who did not receive payment under Phase 1 ERP, including producers who had a shallow loss that didn’t trigger an indemnity for crop insurance. 

If a producer or eligible participant has any questions as the Phase 1 ERP is implemented, we encourage them to contact PCG, NCC or their local FSA office. 

To download a printout of this article, click here.

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EPA Looks for Farmer Feedback

The future of pesticide labels is undergoing active construction at EPA, and farmers, pesticide applicators and other ag stakeholders may have an opportunity to influence that work.

In short, EPA is tackling a long overdue project to make pesticide labels that fully comply with the Endangered Species Act (ESA), in an effort to stem a raft of lawsuits that has bogged the agency down in federal courts, trying to defend its pesticide registrations. That means labels and registrations will include mitigations and restrictions designed to protect certain endangered species and critical habitats that the agency identifies as at risk from pesticide use.

Many ag stakeholders are nervous to see what these new, ESA-compliant pesticide labels might look like, especially after the debut of new Enlist herbicide labels in January took many off guard with dozens of banned counties. (See more on that here: https://www.dtnpf.com/…).

EPA recently rolled out a work plan, designed to explain just how the agency will go about making these new, ESA-compliant labels. You can read the whole thing here: https://www.epa.gov/….

But for a quicker read, here are the top three things to know — how farmers get a say, what pesticides are the first to be affected and how you can stay tuned to the process.

FARMERS AND OTHER AG STAKEHOLDERS GET A SAY

EPA is especially interested in farmer and other pesticide users’ feedback on what “ESA-compliant” labels look like, said Jan Matuszko, EPA’s acting director of the Environmental Fate and Effects Division (EFED).

“Your input is the key to our ability to identify practical yet effective mitigations that folks on the ground can actually implement,” Matuszko told listeners on a May 16 webinar, designed to explain the EPA’s ESA work plan and its impact on growers.

Already, EPA has received lots of feedback that county-level bans on entire pesticides, such as were issued with the Enlist herbicides, are deeply unpopular and viewed as impractical and overly harsh by the farming community. Most of the initially banned counties were eventually put back on the Enlist labels after new data was presented to the agency. But the experience has left some farmers feeling vulnerable to losing pesticide access.

To avoid future label requirements like that, EPA is exploring ways for farmers to “offset” any harm to endangered species by their pesticide use. That could mean building or maintaining additional habitat for listed species, Matuszko said.

That’s a big change from how EPA pesticide use requirements have worked in the past, and the agency is still figuring out if it is legal and how it would be implemented, added Jake Li, deputy assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Pesticide Programs. But for now, the agency is interested in pilot projects with ag chem companies and farmers to determine whether or not this is a feasible ESA mitigation option, he said.

“What we’re hoping through a pilot project … is to demonstrate how all of that plays out in real life and we are also hoping in [the] not-too-distant future to actually put some of this down on paper so that you all can see what that process looks like [and] what are the standards are,” he explained.

Other pilot projects are getting underway, as well, Matuszko said. They will allow EPA to see how certain current farm practices, such as buffer strips or cover crops, help mitigate pesticide run-off and risks to nearby endangered species. (Some of these practices are already listed as runoff prevention requirements on the new Enlist herbicide labels. See page 4 of the label here: https://www.cdms.net/…).

The agency hopes to have a website listing those pilot projects and giving the ag community information on how to participate soon. “Stay tuned,” Matuszko said.

WHICH PESTICIDES WILL BE AFFECTED FIRST?

EPA is struggling with its workload, officials admitted.

“We have an enormous backlog of past, current and future regulatory decisions that require ESA compliance and not enough resources or processes to meet the requirements all at once,” Li explained. “So that is why under the work plan we describe for the first time what we can do with our resources and just as importantly, what we’re not going to get around to doing immediately.”

First up?

“Our highest priority is to meet litigation-related commitments,” Matuszko explained. That means the EPA will first work on meeting “court-committed” deadlines for ESA-compliant labels for 18 pesticides, listed on page 68 of its work plan.

They include common ag pesticides such as atrazine, glyphosate, and neonicotinoids. Expect to see labels with new ESA requirements for these pesticides first.

EPA’s next highest priority for ESA-compliant labels are new active ingredients. As of January 2022, no active ingredient will be registered by the agency without going through a full ESA evaluation. For more details on what that process looks like, see this DTN story: https://www.dtnpf.com/….

Finally, as EPA cycles every pesticide through its routine, 15-year registration review, it will begin the task of evaluating each one for effects on endangered species, Matuszko said. That means, ultimately, all pesticides will go through this.

HOW FARMERS CAN GET THEIR FEEDBACK TO EPA

EPA has been hosting webinars and listening sessions on its pesticide work for the Endangered Species Act. The webinars have fielded more than 200 listeners each so far, many of them from the ag community, who were free to comment and ask questions. See one from January here: https://www.epa.gov/… and watch for the posting of the May 16 one here: https://www.epa.gov/….

Farmers can also get feedback to EPA on its pesticide work via their state regulators, found here in the Association of American Pesticide Control Officials: https://aapco.org/….

EPA also publishes its various pesticide registration decisions — including ESA actions — in the Federal Register and accepts public comment on them, said Elissa Reaves, director of EPA’s Pesticide Re-Evaluation Division. Farmers can keep up to date with these publications by subscribing to the agency’s Office of Pesticide Programs’ news alerts here: https://www.epa.gov/….

Finally, the USDA’s Office of Pest Management Policy accepts feedback here: https://www.usda.gov/…, and the Farm, Ranch, and Rural Communities Federal Advisory Committee holds regular meetings that welcome public participation on many issues, including EPA’s pesticide work. See more here: https://www.epa.gov/….

-Emily Unglesbee, DTN Staff Reporter

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Upland Cotton Production for 2021-Crop; 2022-Crop Estimates

2021 Productiontop 5 high plains counties upland cotton production

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reported 2021 upland cotton production at 17.191 million bales nationally — an increase of 3 million bales from 2020. For the 2021 season the Plains Cotton Growers Inc. 42-county service area produced 4,592,515 million bales, after planting 4,011,501 acres and harvesting 3,457,749 of them. Lynn County came in at the top with 452,200 bales followed by Lubbock and Gaines Counties. A complete list of 2021 cotton production from PCG’s 42-county service area is available for download here.

2022 Projection

According to the National Cotton Council, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) projects 2022-2023 U.S. upland cotton production to be 16.5 million bales. Mill use is projected at 2.5 million bales, while exports are projected to be 14.5 million bales. The estimated total offtake stands at 17 million bales. With beginning stocks of 3.4 million bales, this would result in U.S. ending stocks of 2.9 million bales at the end of the 2022 marketing year and a stocks-to-use ratio of 17.1%.

The High Plains is expected to plant roughly 4 million acres this season.

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