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Cotton News

March 1, 2024

Welcome to the March 1, 2024 issue of Cotton News, a service provided by Plains Cotton Growers Inc. for the cotton industry in the Texas High Plains and beyond.

Still Standing: The Fighting Spirit of Aud

Texas Panhandle Wildfires Burn Through One Million Acres

By Kara Bishop

 

If you ever want to know when you’re about to arrive in Canadian, Texas, just look for Aud.

Photo Credit: Jake Reeves, “Post Cards from the Panhandle” Facebook Group.

She’s a bright green dinosaur sitting atop a hill just south of the Hemphill County Seat. The creation of Gene Cockrell named after his wife, Audrey. A focal point for kids traveling to see grandparents in the summer and a symbol of happiness for a small Panhandle town.

And for the past few days, she’s been all over the news. Except this time, she’s surrounded by smoke.

Photo Credit: Chad Casey, Fox 4 Storm Chaser

Multiple wildfires began eating their way through the Texas Panhandle on Monday. With 50 to 60 mile-per-hour winds on both Monday and Tuesday with little containment progress, more than 1 million acres have burned. More land mass than the entire state of Rhode Island.

It’s a heartbreaking situation. People have lost homes, livestock, and loved ones. There are many photos on social media showcasing the devastation of land, cattle and communities.

You can find all the news you want to on this fire online. Everyone is covering it, so I’m not going to.

Today, I’m going to focus on Aud and what she represents.

I don’t know why Gene Cockrell made a concrete dinosaur and put it on top of a hill. A dinosaur statue seems like an odd thing to add to pastureland. Some say he did it to let the children know when they were almost home after long car rides. It’s a cool story and could be true based on the multitude of memories shared on social media of coming over the top of the hill and seeing Aud on their way into Canadian when traveling.

Whatever the reason, the dinosaur statue could not be more fitting for times like these. Most people believe that the Behemoth referenced in chapter 40 of Job in the Bible is a type of dinosaur. In verse 23 of that same chapter the text says, “Behold if the river is turbulent he (Behemoth/dinosaur) is not frightened; he is confident though Jordan rushes against his mouth.”

The dinosaur mentioned there stood strong and never wavered though the river rushed at him. Fire rushed Canadian earlier this week, and Aud is still standing.

She represents the resilience of Panhandle Texans because they have been through it the past couple of years. Last May, our social media feeds were full of people trying to help Perryton after the tornado ripped through the town. Now, everyone is banding together to help Hemphill, Hutchinson and all counties affected.

Watching the ag community take care of their own is a beautiful thing, even amid devastation. While we wish so badly this tragic event had not happened, it does illustrate the beautiful dimension to humanity when we all come together.

Aud the dinosaur outside Canadian surrounded by scorched acres. But she’s still standing.

Plains Cotton Growers is praying for all those affected by the Panhandle wildfires. And one day, we won’t endure tragedy as Isaiah says:

“But now thus says the LORD…I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.”

How You Can Help:

Here are reputable crisis relief resources actively seeking to help our ranching neighbors – many of whom have lost land, livestock, and homes:

WRCA Natural Disaster Relief Fund

Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association Disaster Relief Fund

TDA STAR Fund

Texas Tech University School of Veterinary Medicine Relief Drive

  • Accepting water, food and supplies at 7671 Evans Drive, Amarillo, TX 79106
  • Contact Tommy Butler: 806-228-0511

Texas Farm Bureau Texas Panhandle Wildfire Relief Fund

Examples of Neighbors Taking Care of Neighbors

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Upcoming Events

Great Plains Soil Fertility Conference
Date: March 4-5, 2024
Location: McKenzie-Merket Alumni Center, Lubbock, Texas

Plains Cotton Advisory Group Meeting
Date: March 8, 2024
Location: PCG Conference Room

Auxin Certification Training – Lubbock 
Date: March 8, 2024
Location: AgriLife Research and Extension – Lubbock Center

Pesticide Applicators Training (To Obtain TDA License) – Levelland
Date: March 14, 2024
Location: Levelland, Texas

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

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February 23, 2024

Welcome to the February 23, 2024 issue of Cotton News, a service provided by Plains Cotton Growers Inc. for the cotton industry in the Texas High Plains and beyond.

Bear and Bull and Bales, Oh My!

In the January 12 issue of Cotton News, we highlighted our keynote speaker for our 67th annual meeting, David Avrin. For the February 23 issue, we are going to highlight the U.S. Farm Report and some of our special breakout sessions.

The U.S. Farm Report

This year, PCG will host the U.S. Farm Report at its annual meeting. U.S. Farm Report Host Tyne Morgan comes back to the PCG stage with three renowned, heavy-hitter economists: Jody Campiche, Bart Fischer and Brad Weddelman.

Jody Campiche, National Cotton Council Vice President of Economics and Policy Analysis

Jody Campiche is the vice president of Economics and Policy Analysis for the National Cotton Council. She prepares the economic outlook for global cotton markets and monitors general economic conditions and other commodity markets with attention to their impacts on the cotton economic situation.  Campiche also coordinates and develops analyses of alternative farm and trade policies as they relate to the U.S. and global cotton and textile industries. The Oklahoma native was raised on a farming operation and joined NCC in 2015.

Bart Fischer, co-director of the Texas A&M University Agricultural Food and Policy Center

Bart Fischer serves as the co-director of the Texas A&M University Agricultural Food and Policy Center as well as a senior advisor for federal relations in the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Texas A&M AgriLife. Fischer’s applied research focuses on solving real-world policy problems for agricultural producers and on anticipating potential policy changes for Congress to consider. Fischer served the House Agriculture Committee for more than eight years before joining Texas A&M. He is the fifth generation to be raised on the family wheat, cotton and cattle operation in Southwest Oklahoma.

Brad Weddelman, Combest, Sell & Associates Chief Economist

Brad Weddelman provides keen insight and economic analysis on matters of policy for clients and lawmakers as the chief economist for Combest, Sell & Associates in Washington D.C. Additionally, he assists with client casework where he interacts regularly with officials at USDA’s Farm Service Agency and Risk Management Agency. A native of Napoleon, Ohio, Weddelman was raised on his family’s wheat, corn and soybean farm.

Breakout Sessions - 12:55 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Following the keynote address, the meeting will continue upstairs with attendees’ choice of breakout sessions. The first session will be from 12:55 p.m. to 1:35 p.m. followed by the second session from 1:50 p.m. 2:30 p.m. Guests also have the option to join the StoneX Cotton Marketing and Hedging Workshop from 12:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Click on the image to view the StoneX workshop agenda.

Breakout Session No. 1 - 12:55 p.m. to 1:35 p.m.

There are two learning opportunities to choose from in Breakout Session No.1

The Importance of Advocacy and the Legislator’s Role

This panel will feature Texas Senator Charles Perry (District 28), Texas Representative Carl Tepper (District 84) and invited Texas Representative Dustin Burrows (District 83). They will provide insight on the inner workings of the Texas Capitol as well as how their farming constituents and groups can help them serve agriculture’s best interests. The panel moderator will be PCG CEO Kody Bessent.

The Financial Future of Agriculture

This panel will feature AgTexas Farm Credit Services Chief Executive Officer Kayla Robinson, CoBank Regional Ag Easts Lead Relationship Manager Mike Cowley and a representative from Capital Farm Credit. These financial experts will talk interest rates and the future of agricultural financing for farming operations. The panel moderator will be Greg Taylor, partner with D. Williams & Co., Inc. Certified Public Accountants.

Breakout Session No. 2 - 1:50 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.

There are two learning opportunities to choose from in Breakout Session No. 2.

Handing Down Your Legacy — What You Need to Know About Transitioning Off the Farm

The speaker for this session is Amber Miller. Miller is a partner with Crenshaw, Dupree & Milam, LLP, who specializes in helping clients with agricultural and business law matters. Miller’s focus is primarily property rights and real estate, entity formation and corporate law, contract drafting and negotiations, while also assisting clients with federal regulatory compliance and administrative law matters and commercial litigation.

The Future in Seed/Chemistry Development and Regulation

Panelists include a Syngenta representative, Kenny Melton, BASF, Matt Peeples, Bayer, Cameron Oliver, Corteva, and Tom Brooks, Americot. The panel moderator will be Texas A&M AgriLife Lubbock Center Cotton Extension Specialist Ken Legé.

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Upcoming Events

Olton Crops Conference
Date: February 28, 2024
Location: Olton Ag Pavilion, Olton, TX

Auxin Herbicide Required Training – Levelland 
Date: February 29, 2024
Location: Levelland, TX

Great Plains Soil Fertility Conference
Date: March 4-5, 2024
Location: McKenzie-Merket Alumni Center, Lubbock, Texas

Plains Cotton Advisory Group Meeting
Date: March 8, 2024
Location: Plains Cotton Growers Conference Room

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

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February 19, 2024

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

Highlights from the National Cotton Council Annual Meeting

From February 16 to February 18, the Plains Cotton Growers Inc. delegation voted to approve important regulations impacting the national cotton industry and participated in discussions to continue to improve and enhance the industry at the National Cotton Council Annual Meeting in Orlando, Florida.

While there, PCG producers attended committee meetings with all cotton industry segments as well as the American Cotton Producers meeting and Texas Cotton Producers meeting. Here are the highlights in order of the NCC agenda.

PCG Delegates/Committee Appointments

Farm Program & Policy Committee:

Brent Coker – Lamb County (Alternate: Thomas Kennedy, Lubbock County)

Bryan Patterson – Lubbock County (Alternate: Seth Sowder, Lamb County)

International Trade Policy Committee:

Rex Kennedy, Lubbock County (Alternate: Rhett Mimms, Lubbock County)

Travis Mires, Lynn County (Alternate: Cody Ellison, Gaines County)

Quentin Shieldknight, Hansford County (Alternate: Greg Slough, Hansford County)

Nick Nelson, Castro County (Alternate: Katy Holladay, Dawson County)

Public Relations & International Market Development Committee:

Scott Harmon, Lubbock County (Alternate: Greg Glover, Potter County)

Research & Education Committee:

David Carter, Hockley County (Alternate: Barry Evans, Swisher County)

Packaging and Distribution Committee:

Jon Jones, Floyd County (Alternate: Steve Olson, Hale County)

Brent Nelson, Lamb County (Alternate: Glen Phipps, Dawson County)

Health Safety & Environmental Quality Committee: 

Jeremy Brown, Dawson County (Alternate: Justin Cave, Midland County)

Mark Howard, Dallam County (Alternate: Dee Vaughan, Moore County)

Johnie Reed, Swisher County (Alternate: Steve Verett, Crosby County)

American Cotton Producers Delegates:

Martin Stoerner, Floyd County

Stacy Smith, Lynn County

Cotton Council International Delegates:

Barry Evans, Swisher County

Brent Nelson, Lamb County

Cotton Council International Board of Directors Meeting

This year, PCCA Export Sales Manager Carlos Garcia fulfilled his term as CCI Chair.

PCCA Export Sales Manager Carlos Garcia accepting his plague of service from CCI for serving as their Chair and President.

“We greatly appreciate Carlos’ outstanding leadership and contributions to the U.S. cotton industry while serving as both president and chairman of CCI for both 2022 and 2023,” said Steve Dyer, incoming CCI Chair and cotton merchant from Tennessee. “Mr. Garcia served with vitality, dedication, vision and endurance in the Cotton USA program around the world.”

In 2023, CCI hosted 30 Cotton USA events in 20 countries, according to CCI Executive Director Bruce Atherley. In his report, Atherley expressed concerns about Brazil’s competitive advantages over the U.S. as they’ve increased their promotional efforts copying some of CCI’s structure.

“The two things we have that Brazil does not is our supply chain transparency and trust protocol program,” he added. “It’s these two things that will separate us from Brazil if we continue to enroll producers and brands/retailers into the protocol program.”

The deadline to upload 2023 bales into the U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol program is March 1, 2024.

The deadline to enroll your 2024 crop into the protocol program is midnight on March 30, 2024.

American Cotton Producers Business Session

It was a packed agenda with a packed house at the American Cotton Producers Meeting in Orlando.

Political Perspectives on the 2024 Farm Bill

The program began with Anne MacMillan, a political strategist and contracted lobbyist for National Cotton Council.

Key takeaways from her report:

  • House is likely to flip back to blue.
  • Senate is likely to flip red with 23 democrat seats up for grabs compared to just 11 republican seats. Republicans only need to net two seats to take the majority. “So the standoffs we’re seeing politically probably won’t change, they’ll just be rearranged.”
  • The Farm Bill is stuck. “I mean that with no disrespect to any of the Congressional staff members that are present, but it doesn’t seem that efforts are moving forward in regard to the Farm Bill.”
  • She also echoed everyone else’s sentiments that have discussed the Farm Bill this year (or politics in general): “In the 25 years, I’ve been doing this — I started with the 2002 Farm Bill — this is the strangest it’s been on Capitol Hill regarding farm policy. My job is to fix problems in Washington, and I can’t fix this one.”
  • However, she remains hopeful. “I’ve known all these people forever, and I know the desire for action is there. I believe they will figure it out.”

2024 Farm Bill Priorities from ACP/PCG

  1. ARC/PLC
    • Increase the statutory seed cotton reference price in this program to better reflect current costs of production.
  2. Crop Insurance
    • Expand the availability of the Stacked Income Protection Plan (STAX) by removing the prohibition of PLC enrollment and the purchase of STAX coverage.
    • Urge the accelerated development of federally assisted insurance or other risk management programs such as but not limited to grants, cost-share programs, low interest loans or other related program for cotton ginning, warehousing, merchandising, textile manufacturing and crushing operations to mitigate the risk of losses associated with reduced processing volume attributable to a significant decline in crop production.
  3. Cotton Loan Program
    • Enhance the Upland cotton marketing loan program by raising the level of the loan rate and modernizing the loan repayment provisions.
    • Improve the safety net for Pima cotton producers by increasing the level of the loan rate and establishing marketing loan repayment provisions similar to Upland cotton.

Read the full advocacy paper.

Texas Cotton Producers Business Session

Texas Cotton Producers Chair Chris Hirt conducts the meeting while PCG CEO Kody Bessent takes the minutes.

There were uplifting reports around the room bright and early Saturday morning at the Texas Cotton Producers business session.

“This will be the best planting start we’ve had in four years,” said Jon Gwynn, South Texas producer.

“This will be the best planting start we’ve had in longer than that,” Matt Huie, South Texas producer added to Gwynn’s comment.

While producers were talking about receiving some moisture and stabilized intended planting acres, NCC field representative Rick King commented, “It’s been a while since we’ve heard this!”

Infrastructure Assistance Efforts Continue

The quest for infrastructure assistance started as early as December 2022, when PCG instigated an effort to include disaster assistance for cotton infrastructure the federal 2022 omnibus spending package. Unfortunately, while a valiant effort was made, the initial federal attempt succumbed to political adversity and was left out of the final legislation.

As the Texas 88th Legislative Session convened, PCG and others spent the duration of the session working to develop a one-time block grant that cotton infrastructure could qualify for to help keep them in business following one of the most catastrophic years in cotton production history. PCG lead the effort with the support of more than 170 agricultural organizations and cotton infrastructure segments advocating for the Texas legislature to pass much needed assistance.

While the Texas legislature was unable to muster the political means to include the request in the end, PCG has not given up, and we continue to look for legislative vehicles both at the federal and state level to develop disaster assistance in the near-term for cotton infrastructure. As part of a long-term solution for infrastructure, PCG, along with other Texas groups, have been looking into a research study on harvest incentives.

During the TCP session, South Texas Cotton and Grain Association Executive Director Jeff Nunley, presented the idea of funding this study — conducted by the Texas A&M University Agricultural Food and Policy Center — to explore options for harvest incentives for producers. South Texas producer Jon Whatley made the motion seconded by Rolling Plains producer Richard Goana.

NCC General Session

NCC Chair and Dawson County Producer Shawn Holladay conducted the closing session of the National Cotton Council annual meeting. In the session, it was announced that the Committee for the Advancement of Cotton (PAC) raised more than $130,000 during the three-day meeting for it’s political advocacy efforts.

NCC Chair Shawn Holladay, Dawson County producer presides over the NCC General Session February 18.

 

Planting Intentions Survey

NCC Vice President of Economics and Policy Analysis Jody Campiche reported a U.S. planting estimate of 9.8 million acres for all cotton (ELS and Upland), down 3.7% compared to 2023. The survey was conducted in December and is a reflection of the time period when the surveys were completed throughout the U.S.

“Planted acreage is just one of the factors that will determine supplies of cotton and cottonseed,” Campiche added. “Ultimately, weather and agronomic conditions are among the factors that play a significant role in determining crop size.”

Planting intentions by region for Upland cotton are as follows:

  • Southeast (Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia) intend to plant just over 2 million acres, which is down 4.8% from last year.
  • Mid-South (Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri and Tennessee) intend to plant just shy of 1.6 million acres, which is down 2.4% from last year.
  • Southwest (Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas) intend to plant roughly 5.7 million acres, which is 5.2% less than last year.
  • West (Arizona, California and New Mexico) is estimated at 147,000 acres, which is up from last year by 21.5%.

The 2024 estimated ELS acreage increased by more than 37% compared to last year at 202,000 acres.

Click image to view full NCC Economic Outlook Executive Summary.

Harry S. Baker Distinguished Service Award

PCCA Executive Director Kevin Brinkley accepts the Harry S. Baker Distinguished Service award on behalf of former PCCA Chairman Eddie Smith.

Former PCCA Chairman Eddie Smith was honored with the Harry S. Baker Distinguished Service Award February 18. PCCA Executive Director Kevin Brinkley accepted the award on his behalf.

“In life and industry challenges will come and go, but we must never stop pushing forward,” Brinkley said, reading from remarks Smith gave him.

Brinkley went on to say he was grateful to the industry for bestowing this well-deserved honor on Smith. “Whether you know Eddie or not,” Brinkley added, “your life has been positively impacted by him and his quiet leadership of this industry for several decades.”

Oscar Johnston Lifetime Achievement Award

Former Plains Cotton Growers CEO and Crosby County Producer Steve Verett received the Oscar Johnston Lifetime Achievement Award this year from the National Cotton Council.

Former PCG CEO Steve Verett, Crosby County producer, accepts the Oscar Johnston Lifetime Achievement Award.

“I want to thank the NCC staff and leadership for this award, as well as Patricia and my family,” Verett said when accepting the award. “I also want to thank my PCG family. It’s through their support that I was able to do anything.

“I came to my first NCC annual meeting in 1982 at 29 years old. I was mesmerized by all segments of the cotton industry coming together. It wasn’t always easy, but they were able to work out policy that could represent and benefit the whole industry. It was the envy of the commodity world — how the cotton industry could come together. When I came on as PCG CEO, my mission became fostering and enhancing volunteer leadership. Staff is critical, but the heart and soul and driving factor should always be the volunteer leadership. And the cotton council has always exhibited that.”

February 9, 2024

Welcome to the February 9, 2024 issue of Cotton News, a service provided by Plains Cotton Growers Inc. for the cotton industry in the Texas High Plains and beyond.

Registration for the Plains Cotton Growers Annual Meeting is Now Open!

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Plains Cotton Growers Reacts to Dicamba Ruling

On February 6, a federal court in Arizona vacated the 2020 registrations for three dicamba products previously approved by the Environmental Protection Agency for over-the-top applications. According to the National Cotton Council, “The impacts of this ruling will be felt across the Cotton Belt as dicamba-tolerant varieties account for more than 75% of U.S. cotton acres.”

A prohibition of the use of dicamba products for the 2024 crop would add to the ever-growing list of challenges producers are facing of late. Producers on the Texas High Plains begin their planting season in May — they have already made their cropping decisions and have begun purchasing seed and other inputs for the season.

“The timing of this ruling will also not allow for the production of seed with alternative herbicide technology in time for 2024 planting,” the National Cotton Council said in a statement released on February 7. “Without widely available alternatives, losing the foundational herbicides in the dicamba-tolerant weed control system will put millions of acres in jeopardy of reduced production.”

With the persistent drought of 2022 and 2023, Texas High Plains cotton production doesn’t need another obstacle hindering production in the 2024 season.

“It’s unfortunate, after combatting an uncooperative Mother Nature and a volatile market, that we have this ruling staring us in the face to start 2024,” said PCG President Martin Stoerner. “And while things are uncertain at the moment, the impact of this ruling could have dire consequences to our industry.”

PCG CEO Kody Bessent added that PCG stands with NCC in urging EPA to immediately appeal the ruling.

“Our producers should have all crop protection tools available to them when producing our fiber,” he added. “Our local, state and national economies depend on it.”

On February 8, PCG submitted a letter in coordination with NCC to EPA requested they draft and grant an existing stocks order to provide producers the opportunity to access and apply the over-the-top dicamba products currently existing in the retail supply chain — especially since the 2024 season is already underway.

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Upcoming Events

Soil Health Symposium
Date: February 13-14, 2024
Location: West Texas A&M University

Getting to Know Your Soil
Date: February 15, 2024
Location: TTU Native Rangeland

Pesticide Applicators License – Levelland 
Date: February 15, 2024
Location: Levelland

Auxin Training – Hale County
Date: February 22, 2024
Location: Hale County Extension Office – Plainview

Managing Nutrition in Dry Regions Workshop
Date: February 22, 2024
Location: FiberMax Center for Discovery

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

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February 2, 2024

Welcome to the February 2, 2024 issue of Cotton News, a service provided by Plains Cotton Growers Inc. for the cotton industry in the Texas High Plains and beyond.

Registration for the Plains Cotton Growers Annual Meeting is Now Open!

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House Passes Tax Relief for American Families and Workers Act

By Kelly Jackson Hardy

This afternoon, the House of Representatives voted to pass the Tax Relief for American Families and Workers Act with a vote of 357-70.  As we discussed in a previous post, this bill is very taxpayer friendly with most of the significant provisions being retroactively applied to prior tax years.  The ten-year impact of the bill is approximately $78 billion.  For producers, the biggest benefits include:

  • Increase in the maximum refundable portion of the child tax credit from $1,600 to $2,000, phased in through 2025. The refundable portion would be based on the number of eligible children claimed as dependents and not calculations based on income.  The changes are retroactive to 2023, with the maximum refundable portion of the credit being $1,800.
  • For 2023, the much beloved 100% depreciation that has allowed so many machine sheds and so much tile on cash rented farms be written off, fell to 80%. A sliding scale to zero at a reduction of 20% per year was in place for the next 4 tax years.  The bill would extend 100% bonus depreciation retroactively to include property placed in service through December 31, 2025.
  • Companies, including many in ag, that invest in research and development received a nasty surprise last year when Section 174 became effective. Many of these companies were forced to capitalize and amortize their R&D expenses instead of deducting them as they have in the past.  In many cases it led to taxable income in situations where it was not expected.  The bill delays the application of this law to tax years beginning after December 31, 2025. No guidance has been provided as to how to claim a deduction in a tax year for which a return has already been filed, but one could expect the filing of an amended return would correct.
  • Limitations on the deduction of business interest hurt many of our marketing and supply companies in the calculation of their tax provisions this year. Interest rates are obviously higher and changes in the way that you determine allowable interest expense were not favorable. For the first time, depreciation and amortization could not be added back into the limiting calculation.  This tax bill revisits this calculation and allows for an EBITA based calculation to be reinstated for the interest limit for years beginning after December 31, 2023 and before January 1, 2026.  Taxpayers who saw negative impacts from the 2023 calculation could elect to restore the depreciation carve out for tax years beginning after 2021 and before 2024.
  • The Section 179 threshold would be increased effective for 2024 tax year as well as the minimum required payment amount for filing of Forms 1099.

So how will these incentives be paid for?  The Joint committee on Taxation estimates that the early termination of the Employee Retention Credit program will result in a savings of nearly the full cost of the bill, with the JCT projecting $400 million of excess costs.  ERC promotors face stiff penalties and filings for credits would end today…January 31, 2024.

The Bill now progresses to the Senate.  Will it pass? Both sides of the aisle have incentives in either direction – 1) get something favorable done in an election year or 2) politicize three provisions that no one likes or benefits from (bonus depreciation, interest limitation and R&D capitalization) to make the other side look bad in an election year.  The IRS has already opened filing for the 2023 year and passage will impact a great number of returns, primarily through the child tax credit expansion and bonus depreciation.    If this passes, the IRS will have to rework its systems before it can accept returns as will the tax software providers.  It is possible we will see delays in the filing date and even more compression of tax season than has become the new norm.  BE PATIENT.  This is not the year to be in a hurry to file and it is much easier to wait than to amend.

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Upcoming Events

Dalhart Crops Conference
Date: February 6, 2024
Location: Frank Phillips College

PCG Advisory Group Meeting
Date: February 9, 2024
Location: Plains Cotton Growers Conference Room

Soil Health Symposium
Date: February 13-14, 2024
Location: West Texas A&M University

Getting to Know Your Soil
Date: February 15, 2024
Location: TTU Native Rangeland

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

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January 26, 2024

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

Registrations for the Plains Cotton Growers Annual Meeting is Now Open!

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‘We Feed the Masses’

First published in Agri-Pulse, written by South Texas Cotton and Grain Association Executive Director Jeff Nunley

“We feed the masses.” That was the response of one of my farmers to our Uber driver who shared with us that he was an organic “farmer” that had recently bought 15 acres in Pennsylvania to grow his own organic food. I was impressed with the insight of my farmer’s comment and how it relates to the war on “big” agriculture by many who have the misguided belief that a farm should be small, diverse, and focused on the wants of the wealthy elite rather than the needs of ordinary Americans who work hard to support their families and put food on the table.

U.S. Agriculture has evolved over decades to be the envy of the world in its ability to provide safe and abundant food and fiber for our country and the world. No other country enjoys a food supply that costs consumers on average less than 10% of their household income. Consumers take for granted that grocery shelves will be full of the items they want at prices that are reasonable and predictable.

Empty store shelves during the Covid pandemic, and more recently rampant inflation following the pandemic, brought into sharp focus how sensitive consumers are to scarcity and increasing food costs. More than anything else, these events reinforced the importance and strategic value of maintaining a strong, stable, domestic agriculture industry and providing a safety-net for the farmers that underpin the entire system.

The marvel of our U.S. food and fiber supply system is due to constant improvements in efficiency throughout the supply chain, but particularly due to improvements at the farm level – where it all begins.

When soldiers returned home after WWII, many pursued other opportunities rather than returning to the farm. For those who remained, farm size grew. Improvements in farm equipment, like tractors and harvest equipment, allowed farmers to cover more ground with less labor. Advances in agricultural science and technology along with the adoption of advanced farming practices have provided a constant pace of improvement that has evolved into the production agriculture we know today.

Today’s farmers produce more output with less inputs than ever before. Farmers use less fuel, fertilizer, water, pesticides, and labor for unit of output today than they did just 10 years ago. The average U.S. farmer has less environmental impact and produces more sustainably than anywhere else in the world. As a result of the constant improvements in efficiency on the farm, food prices have decreased over time. When I was in college in the mid-1980s, food costs were $1 of every $5 of household income. That number today is less than $1 of every $10 in household income, even factoring in that away-from-home consumption has increased over the same time. As farmers have increased efficiency, the gains have not translated into improved profits. Rather, these gains have been passed through the system to the ultimate benefit of consumers – this is the nature of commodity markets. Affordable food and fiber made possible by efficient, full-time farming operations underpins our economy by allowing consumers to spend more of their income on goods and services other than food and clothing.

Farming has always been a high-risk, capital intensive, and low profit margin business. Farmers’ income is a function of their yield (which depends on timing, weather, and skill) and the commodity price (subject to global supplies and the actions of foreign governments).

U.S. farm policy has evolved along with the changes in production agriculture with the consistent goal of providing a safety net that helps farmers survive weather and market conditions beyond their control. Farm Bill programs like counter-cyclical payments and crop insurance are intended to preserve the strategic resource of domestic agriculture knowing that farmers cannot enter and exit the business like gamblers at a roulette wheel.

Recently, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack has lamented that 84% of farm program payments go to only 12% of farmers in our country. What’s wrong with that? When you consider that 12% of farmers (roughly 240,000 farms) are responsible for over 80% of agricultural production in this country, it sounds like the support is going where it should. Keep in mind that this 12% are not “mega-farms”, rather the overwhelming majority are family farming operations with gross cash farm income above $350,000 that have grown to keep pace with the economics of low margins and high capital costs.

It troubles me that this USDA has decided the scales should be tipped in favor of small hobby farms like that of our Uber driver, who would qualify as a farmer in the eyes of USDA. But his livelihood does not depend on his farm like those full-time farmers that USDA has decided to penalize.

It also troubles me that this USDA and others have decided that the economic realities that created the marvel of our modern agriculture and food system are wrong, and they know better. I fear that the well-meaning, but ill-informed who believe we should divert support away from full-time farmers and instead target them to fashionable, feel good social engineering that benefits folks like our Uber driver will undermine an industry that provides the foundation for our country.

Finally, I fear that this increasingly popular notion that “big” agriculture is bad could lead us down the road to less efficient, more costly agriculture. The biggest loser of that will be American consumers, especially those who already struggle to put food on the table.

“We feed the masses.” Yep. That’s us. The 240,000 farmers that are the workhorses of our industry. We deserve to be treated fairly.

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Upcoming Events

Dalhart Crops Conference
Date: February 6, 2024
Location: Frank Phillips College

PCG Advisory Group Meeting
Date: February 9, 2024
Location: Plains Cotton Growers Conference Room

Soil Health Symposium
Date: February 13-14, 2024
Location: West Texas A&M University

Getting to Know Your Soil
Date: February 15, 2024
Location: TTU Native Rangeland

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

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January 19, 2024

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

Making the ARC/PLC Election for 2024

First published in “Southern Ag Today” by Bart Fischer and Joe Outlaw

On November 16, 2023, President Biden signed H.R. 6363 – the Further Continuing Appropriations and Other Extensions Act of 2024 – into law. The bill extended the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (2018 Farm Bill), reauthorizing programs like the Agriculture Risk (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC) programs through September 30, 2024. Producers will have an opportunity to make a one-time election between ARC and PLC for the 2024 crop year. USDA opened the election and enrollment period on December 18, 2023, and it runs through March 15, 2024.

The ARC/PLC decision for 2024 is against the backdrop of a general softening in prices, but the implications vary by crop. For some crops, the decision may be clear-cut.

As we have noted in the past, we highly encourage you to also look at tools like the Supplemental Coverage Option (SCO) or the Enhanced Coverage Option (ECO), both of which provide area-wide coverage for part of the deductible not covered by your underlying policy. Importantly, if you elect ARC, you cannot purchase SCO. In other words, you are essentially evaluating ARC versus PLC + SCO. Even if PLC is not expected to trigger, you may still choose to elect it and purchase SCO, particularly if the value of SCO is expected to exceed that of ARC.

For cotton producers, we continue recommending that you first evaluate the Stacked Income Protection Plan (STAX) before making decisions about ARC/PLC. In the case of cotton, STAX cannot be purchased on any farm where the seed cotton base has been enrolled in ARC or PLC for that crop year. As we will discuss at the Red River Crops Conference in Altus, OK, later today, in a scenario where the crop is a total loss, the area-wide policies can provide considerably more coverage than ARC. For example, as noted in the example for Jackson County, OK, in Table 1, STAX can provide more than twice as much support as ARC in a total loss scenario.

As always, we aren’t in the business of telling you exactly what to do, because, frankly, we don’t know what will end up being the best choice. But, as with previous years, we do have a decision aid available at www.afpc.tamu.edu where you can input your info, and it will show you expected payments under as many different price scenarios as you want to look at.

The High Plains comparison chart is provided by PCG Director of Policy Analysis and Research Shawn Wade.

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Upcoming Events

Top of Texas Ag Conference
Date: January 23, 2024
Location: M.K. Brown

Plains Cotton Growers Inc. Board of Directors Meeting
Date: January 24, 2024
Location: FiberMax Center for Discovery

Texas Alliance for Water Conservation 10th Annual Water College
Date: January 24, 2024
Location: Lubbock Memorial Civic Center

Dumas Panhandle Crops Conference
Date: January 25, 2024
Location: Moore Co. Community Building

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

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West Texas Cotton Quality Report for the 2023 Season

2023 Cotton Quality Report

This is a weekly summary of the cotton classed at the Lubbock and Lamesa USDA Cotton Division Cotton Classing Offices for the 2023 production season.

Lamesa’s average daily number of cotton samples received this week is 1,087. The office is currently 100% complete in the classing of their season estimate of samples.

Lubbock’s average daily number of cotton samples received this week is 1,492. The office is 99% complete in the classing of their season estimate of samples.

This week’s quality reports:

Lamesa

Lubbock

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January 12, 2024

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

A Sneak Peek at PCG’s Annual Meeting Keynote Speaker: David Avrin

The Plains Cotton Growers Inc. 67th Annual Meeting will be held April 2, 2024, at the Overton Hotel & Conference Center. Our keynote speaker will be David Avrin, customer experience consultant and expert in the younger generations of consumers.

One of the most in-demand customer experience and marketing speakers and consultants in the world today, Avrin shares his content-rich, entertaining and actionable presentations with enthusiastic audiences across North America and around the world. Avrin helps organizations better understand and connect with their changing customers and clients to help future-proof their businesses.

Avrin’s business insights have been featured on thousands of media outlets around the world. He is also the author of five books including the acclaimed: “It’s Not Who You Know, It’s Who Knows You!,” “Visibility Marketing, Why Customers Leave (and How to Win Them Back),” and his newest book, “The Morning Huddle — Powerful Customer Experience Conversations to Wake You Up, Shake You Up and Win More Business.”

Registration

Registration for PCG’s annual meeting opens soon so watch your inbox in the coming weeks!

Sponsor Opportunity

We are still accepting sponsorships for this year’s upcoming event. If you would like more information on how to sponsor our annual meeting, please email Kara Bishop.

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Upcoming Events

Stratford Northern Panhandle Crops Conference 2024
Date: January 17, 2024
Location: Sherman Co. Barn, Stratford, Texas

Mid-Plains Ag Expo
Date: January 18, 2024
Location: Hale County Justice Center Assembly Room, Plainview, Texas

Plains Cotton Advisory Board Meeting
Date: January 19, 2024
Location: PCG Conference Room

Plains Cotton Growers Inc. Board of Directors Meeting
Date: January 24, 2024
Location: FiberMax Center for Discovery

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

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West Texas Cotton Quality Report for the 2023 Season

2023 Cotton Quality Report

This is a weekly summary of the cotton classed at the Lubbock and Lamesa USDA Cotton Division Cotton Classing Offices for the 2023 production season.

Lamesa’s average daily number of cotton samples received this week is 1,758. The office is currently 96% complete in the classing of their season estimate of samples.

Lubbock’s average daily number of cotton samples received this week is 2,500. The office is 99% complete in the classing of their season estimate of samples.

This week’s quality reports:

Lamesa

Lubbock

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January 5, 2024

Welcome to the January 5, 2024 issue of Cotton News, a service provided by Plains Cotton Growers Inc. for the cotton industry in the Texas High Plains and beyond.

Government Shutdown Attempt No. 3? (and other news)

In case you missed it, here’s the latest news roundup that could impact producers on the Texas High Plains.

Border Security Challenges Government Operations

By Kara Bishop

We’re experiencing yet another sense of deja vu as the risk of a government shutdown increases amid Congress butting heads on funding measures, specifically border security, funding for Ukraine, etc.

The government shutdown deadline for Agriculture among others is January 19, causing House Republicans to seek ways to attach border security reforms to whatever government funding legislation they come up with to keep the doors open. The Senate has also been working on developing some border security measures, but House Republicans feel it’s a lame attempt to bolster President Biden’s approval rating ahead of the election.

“I can’t see where the House would automatically accept a Senate version when we’ve passed our own bill, H.R.2.,” said Rep. Tony Gonzales (R-Texas) to CNN, whose district encompasses the border.

H.R.2, “Secure the Border Act of 2023,” was passed by the House of Representatives on May 11, 2023, with a vote of 219-213.

Senate Democrats strongly oppose some measures of this legislation, while some House Republicans say they will block any legislation that doesn’t include drastic restrictions of the asylum process while simultaneously establishing a new surveillance system that cracks down on the existing illegal immigrant population.

And there’s no doubt about it — what’s happening at the border is a problem.

According to CNN who received preliminary statistics from Homeland Security, border authorities encountered more than 225,000 migrants along the US-Mexico border December 2023, marking the highest monthly total recorded since 2000. Over the course of the month, authorities dealt with more than 10,000 migrants crossing daily.

“While we believe there should be solutions offered to secure our border, we’re also sensitive to the fact that migrant labor is crucial to agriculture and the workforce needed to continuously provide a reliable food and fiber source for the U.S.,” said PCG CEO Kody Bessent.

Suffice it to say, the battle lines are drawn, and it will be a fight to the end during these next two weeks, and hopefully for agriculture, we will avert another shutdown.

“It’s never good for the cotton industry when the government shuts down,” said PCG CEO Kody Bessent. “But right now at the close of our crop year, producers are selling cotton and the operations of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Commodity Credit Corporation (USDA CCC) are crucial for producers and merchants alike. If the CCC shuts down January 19, there’s nothing to stand in the financial gap that exists between producers and merchants when selling product. With the current adverse risk the cotton industry is going through, the last thing we need is extra risk from a shutdown.”

The shutdown would also halt any disaster assistance or PARP funding for producers, which can make or break a producer’s bottom line, and enrollment for programs through the Farm Service Agency would cease until the government reopens.

Is El Nino to Blame for the Historic Heat and Drought that Gripped the U.S. in 2023?

By Tyne Morgan

2023 was a year full of weather impacts on crops and livestock. From the intense heat in the South to the drought that parked itself across the South and Midwest, USDA meteorologist Brad Rippey says those are the two weather events that stole headlines this past year.

“When we look back at 2023, I’m actually going to break heat and drought into two separate categories,” says Rippey. “Really, when you look at the extreme heat this past year, it was focused across the deep South from Arizona to Florida, and pretty much everywhere in between. And that was certainly a huge weather story that affected parts of the cotton belt.”

From wiping out a large part of the cotton crop in west Texas to hitting sugar cane production in Louisiana, Rippey says nearly the entire deep South saw impacts of the year’s extreme heat.

“Of course, that came with drought in many cases. But when you look at these overall temperatures, the hottest summer on record and a lot of hottest months on record, that was a big story in the deep South,” says Rippey.

While other parts of the U.S. still had drought, in some areas it didn’t pack as big of a punch because it came without the heat. That was the case in much of the Corn Belt. The drought hit last year without the extended intense heat, which had a big impact on crops.

“We were very fortunate, especially in the Corn Belt, that we did not see the combination of extreme heat and drought at the same time. And that actually led to some of those better outcomes than expected for U.S. corn,” explains Rippey.

With USDA currently projecting the 2023 U.S. corn crop to be the largest on record, Rippey says the mild temperatures are what helped save the crops.

“You do see that things actually turned out better in states like Iowa. When you look at the rainfall numbers, they were abysmal, almost as dry as 2012. But then the heat just wasn’t there. And today’s varieties are little bit more tolerant of drought and heat. And the outcome was a little better than we expected,” says Rippey.

It wasn’t all good news. While crop yields turned out better than expected for some farmers, the lack of moisture continued to dwindle grazing conditions and hay stocks in 2023. Those created additional hurdles in rebuilding the shrinking U.S. cattle herd.

So, what was the culprit that caused the intense heat that suffocated the South during the summer months? Rippey says while it’s still being studied, he thinks it’s tied to one major weather event in 2023, in particular.

“I will go out on a limb and say that that may have been an early sneak attack from El Niño,” says Rippey. “The reason I say that is that because we did have an early onset El Niño. It was pretty much in place by late spring, early summer. It’s pretty consistent with  El Niño to have a big ridge of high pressure that comes out of Central America. And at times, we’ve seen it before, that does sometimes extend all the way into the southern tier of the United States.”

He says El Niño  can also be tied to the shipping crisis that wreaked havoc on exports in 2023, causing massive shipping delays, as well as forcing shippers to carry lighter loads.

“And certainly what happened in Mexico and parts of Central America, think about the Central American drought that’s causing shipping problems in the Panama Canal. A lot of that, I think, could be tied to the heat in the atmosphere related to the early onset El Niño,” says Rippey.

According to Rippey, the drought in the Midwest can be attributed to the blocking high pressure that wouldn’t budge across Canada this past spring, summer or fall.

“The U.S. Midwest happened to be on the southern end of a lot of that high pressure over Canada. So when we think about that, think about the Canadian wildfires, all the smoke coming down. And we were just on the southern edge of that in the Midwest,” Rippey explains.

He says that, along with Northeasterly winds blocking moisture from the Gulf, is what caused the drought in the Midwest.

“At the same time, high pressure was far enough north that the heat and unusual warmth were actually focused across Canada. So, it wasn’t all that hot on the southern end of the high, but it was dry. And that led to that cool drought in the western Corn Belt,” he adds.

El Niño is still in play, as Rippey says El Niño made a splash once again to close out 2023.

“Now that El Niño has kicked in, it’s a strong event, it could be one of the strongest on record,” says Rippey. “We’re seeing that influence of  El Niño starting to grab a hold of the reins of U.S. weather patterns. And that’s pretty normal and certainly should continue into early 2024.”

What’s on tap for 2024? Rippey forecasts the intense El Niño will lead to what he calls “pretty profound” impacts for the rest of the winter, and even into spring.

In Tough Times, Cotton Acres Holding Steady for 2024

By Jim Steadman

Here we go again. Stepping out into the unknown. Sticking our necks out to kickstart the new year’s cotton acreage projection game once more.  

Photo credit: Cotton Grower Magazine

In reality, Cotton Grower’s track record for acreage projection has been pretty good for the past several years. And, if nothing else, it gives the industry something to ponder and/or poke fun of until the more esteemed scientific surveys from the National Cotton Council and USDA are released in the coming months. 

As always, these acreage projections are based on input and conversations with multiple stakeholders in the cotton industry — our readers, state cotton specialists, economists, and others related to U.S. cotton. It’s a reporting job with math involved, and we try to do our best with the information we get.  

That said — and based on the information in hand as of mid-December — U.S. cotton growers are projected to plant a total (upland and Pima) of 10.19 million acres in 2024. That’s a decrease of roughly 42,000 acres from USDA’s 2023 reported plantings last October, or approximately .5% down from 2023’s pre-harvest numbers.   

In essence, our calculations show no significant change in cotton acreage from late 2023. 

What Happened? 

One year ago, U.S. cotton growers were feeling pretty good about their crop prospects for 2023. Prices were still acceptable (but not high), and early season moisture gave hope for a good start to the year across most of the Cotton Belt. Flooding issues washed some traditional cotton acres in California and Texas away to alternative crops, and another summer of searing heat baked away prospects of favorable yields, especially across the Southwest, still reeling from the effects of the historic drought of ’22. 

USDA’s final October tally of 10.23 million acres shows how much Mother Nature and other market forces took out of the early 2023 projections of 11.0 to 11.5 million acres.     

As expected, there was one overriding comment in nearly every response we received — cotton prices in relation to other commodities will strongly influence cropping decisions and acres for 2024. Of course, continuing inflation concerns, global demand for cotton, political and geopolitical issues, and continued high production costs certainly have an impact, too.  

“If you look at the historical corn/cotton ratio, the results point to about 10.8 million acres of cotton,” says Dr. Darren Hudson, Professor and the Larry Combest Endowed Chair for Agricultural Competitiveness and Director of the International Center for Agricultural Competitiveness at Texas Tech University. “The problem is the ratio doesn’t capture our current level with 77-cent cotton and $5 corn. The ratio would suggest it’s more favorable to cotton this year than last year. But my gut tells me that at 77 cents, we’re just not going to get a lot of it.”  

Here are the survey results on a regional basis. 

Southeast 

Overall, sources in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, the Carolinas, and Virginia indicated they’ll plant 2.15 million acres of cotton in 2024, an 8% decrease from 2023. As the number indicates, acreage across the region should hold relatively steady, especially in Georgia, to slightly down. No acreage increases were anticipated in any of the region’s states.  

“Multiple factors are depressing cotton,” says Steve Brown, Alabama Extension Cotton Specialist. “The price is not in the upper 80s or better. Severe drought in southwest Alabama and harvest season rainfall were disappointing. And rising input costs remain.”  

“In North Carolina, meaningful improvements in price would likely increase our acreage noticeably,” says Guy Collins, North Carolina State Extension Cotton Specialist. “Severe drought in some places in 2023 may affect some acreage decisions.”  

“I’m generally an optimist when it comes to acreage, but I’d predict Georgia stays stagnant at best compared to 2023,” says Camp Hand, University of Georgia Extension Cotton Specialist. “We still have more infrastructure in place for cotton compared to corn, and there aren’t many other options to break a dryland peanut rotation other than cotton. We are a cotton state. And in my mind, we will stay that way for the foreseeable future.”  

Mid-South 

Most Mid-South states are projecting flat to slightly decreased acreage for 2024, with the exception of Tennessee where a slight increase is indicated. All totaled, the survey results show 1.65 million acres for 2024 across the five-state region.  

“I think acres will be pretty flat,” says Brian Pieralisi, Mississippi State Extension Cotton Specialist. “It’s really hard to say for sure with south Mississippi still in such a drought. I wouldn’t expect a large increase in acres as long as prices stay in the 80-cent range.” 

 “Looking at futures for cotton, the price appears to be holding flat, and I’m sure most potential growers would be more comfortable with it higher,” notes Trey Price, LSU Extension Cotton Specialist. “All that being said, I don’t expect to see much of an increase in cotton acreage, if any.” 

“I expect we will pick up just shy of 50,000 acres to bring us back to the 300,000-acre mark in Tennessee, with a plus or minus of about 75,000,” predicts Tyson Raper, University of Tennessee Extension Cotton Specialist. “The 2023 Tennessee crop was nothing short of incredible, and I suspect the subsequent excitement with the commodity will push our increase. But there’s a long way to go before May!” 

Southwest 

The lingering effects of the 2022 drought combined with triple-digit summer heat to hamper cotton production across the region. Overall, production results were marginally better than 2022, as some areas did fine while growers in other parts of the region faced another year of insurance claims and abandoned acres.  

Based on our survey input, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas growers anticipate planting a combined 6,165,000 cotton acres in 2024 — a very slight .8% increase from final planted acres in 2023. 

West 

 Once again, grower decisions on cotton in California, Arizona, and New Mexico continue to hinge primarily on water availability and cotton price. In 2023, final USDA numbers showed 239,000 acres of cotton across the three states. Projections for 2024, based on current input, show approximately 225,000 total cotton acres for 2024 across the region — a nearly 6% decrease.  

Snapshot in Time 

For the second consecutive year, primarily due to current cotton prices and other uncontrollable market factors, few respondents were fully confident in their projections. Some, in fact, would not be surprised to see 9.8 million acres while others could potentially see up to 10.5 million acres. This is our best guesstimate for now.  

The Cotton Grower survey reflects a snapshot of the market situation and prevailing attitudes in late November and early December, as 2023 harvest was still wrapping up in some areas. Many thanks to the growers, ginners, consultants, specialists, and other industry sources for their input. 

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PCG Announces 2024 Annual Meeting

PCG’s biggest industry event of the year is scheduled for April 2, 2024 at the Overton Hotel & Conference Center in Lubbock, Texas.

We’re excited to bring you some top-notch speakers and special segments including renowned customer experience and younger generation expert David Avrin and the U.S. Farm Report.

Mark your calendars and stay tuned — we will open registration with all the details soon!

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PCG 2024 Seed Cost Calculator Released

The 2023 version of the Plains Cotton Growers Inc. Seed Cost Calculator is available for download at any time on the PCG website at the bottom of the “Resources” page. 

The PCG seed cost calculator is an interactive Microsoft Excel spreadsheet that allows producers to calculate an estimated cost per acre, for both seed and technology, based on published suggested retail prices.

Questions about the tool can be directed to Shawn Wade. 

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West Texas Cotton Quality Report for the 2023 Season

2023 Cotton Quality Report

This is a weekly summary of the cotton classed at the Lubbock and Lamesa USDA Cotton Division Cotton Classing Offices for the 2023 production season.

Lamesa’s average daily number of cotton samples received this week is 2,080. The office is currently 89% complete in the classing of their season estimate of samples.

Lubbock’s average daily number of cotton samples received this week is 4,030. The office is 99% complete in the classing of their season estimate of samples.

This week’s quality reports:

Lamesa

Lubbock

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December 15, 2023

Welcome to the December 15, 2023 issue of Cotton News, a service provided by Plains Cotton Growers Inc. for the cotton industry in the Texas High Plains and beyond.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qZ8SjQkjSAs

What do you love most about your career?

Click on the video above to play.

Faces of Cotton: Jane K. Dever, Ph.D.

By Kara Bishop

Welcome to the latest installment of the PCG Faces of Cotton story series. 

“My heart is in the High Plains of Texas where I first fell in love with the science of cotton breeding.”

Faces of Cotton Story

From Childhood to Her 42nd Crop

Three-year-old Jane Kveton
doesn’t care for the pieces of grass that float on the water and stick to her feet. As her father, John, turns the well on to water the lawn with irrigation pipe, she avoids the yard, running up and down the sidewalk splashing in the puddles.

Eight-year-old Jane
grips a sawed-off hoe handle on the family farm. The West Texas sun beating down on her as she weeds the “longest row in the world.”  She’s not really a fan of the outdoors, and her family lovingly refers to her as “Princess Jane.” Her Czech grandfather, Fred, shows up in the late afternoon to give her and the rest of the Kveton children peaches and beer to take home — much to the chagrin of Jane’s mother.

At 18 years old,
Jane is the 10th child her father will have sent to college. To help fund this endeavor, she applies for a scholarship with Southwest Textiles Inc. — a textile mill in Abernathy, Texas, where she and her family live on a 160-acre cotton farm. Receiving the scholarship meant earning her degree in textile engineering technology at Texas Tech University.

Her first class at TTU, the textile engineering department head asked how much a cotton bale weighed. Jane, who had grown up on a cotton farm, had no idea. “I knew how to hoe it, I didn’t know much about what happened after that,” Jane added. The professor chastised her in front of the entire class for growing up on a cotton farm and knowing so little about it. Joke’s on him.

Jane, now 20 years old,
is introduced to Roger Milliken — owner of the largest privately owned U.S. textile enterprise at the time — who is trying to recruit students to work at his new prestigious research facility. Except, he wanted them to research fiber replacements for cotton, because “it’s such a pain for the mills.” This was the first time Jane felt a passionate connection to cotton and began to realize how it had shaped her life up to this point.

22-year-old, Jane
graduates with her textile engineering degree and is accepted into an exclusive master’s degree program with the Institute of Textile Technology in Charlottesville, Virginia. They only accepted 10 students per year. She was the only TTU student selected and her department head was so excited. But Jane had other plans, wryly saying, “I decided to get married instead.”

Jane married James Dever in 1983 and the couple stayed in Lubbock. James worked for the Coca-Cola bottling company, while Jane had plans to follow her mother’s occupation as a partner to her husband at home. Her housewife status lasted four months.

Dr. John R. Gannaway had recently become the cotton breeder at the Lubbock Texas Agricultural Experiment Station and ambitiously had more than 1,000 crosses in the field in 1983. They were overwhelmed and needed help. One of the student workers from Texas A&M that was helping at the center that summer had grown up with Jane in Abernathy. “Can you come in and help self-pollinate?” he asked Jane on the phone. “You can be parttime and just help glue flowers shut in the afternoons.”

At 22 years old,
Jane is a student worker at the Lubbock center and still has no idea who Dr. Gannaway is. She comes in at 1 p.m. — enters the lab, grabs her paper, tags, blue apron — and glues cotton blooms shut until 5 p.m.

One day while working, Jane is told, “Dr. Gannaway wants to see you.” When she entered his office, he held up a newsletter from the Texas Tech Textile Research Center and said, “Is this you?” She looked at the paper. It was titled, “Textile Topics,” and read, “Jane Kveton, winner of the Textile Veterans Association Award.” She was also named one of TTU’s outstanding engineering students. Her picture was at the top.

“That’s me,” Jane replied. “Kveton is my maiden name.”

“You have a degree in textiles?” Dr. Gannaway asked.

“Yes.”

“Do you know anything about fiber quality?” he asked intensely.

“Of course,” she responded.

At the time, Gannaway was working with Joel Hembree with PCCA, Rex McKinney with Farmers Cooperative Compress and Don Johnson with Plains Cotton Growers Inc. to establish the Plains Cotton Improvement Program (PCIP). Jane was asked to help write up a fiber quality proposal for PCIP in 1983. While she initially worked on fiber quality projects at the Center until 1993, Jane would continue to follow the program for four decades, eventually coming back in 2008.

Between 1993 and 2008, Jane worked for the Textile Research Center at TTU, PCCA, BioTex, held a 25% appointment with the Extension AgriPartners program, and spent 10 years as an agronomist and global cotton breeding manager for FiberMax cottonseed. When John Gannaway retired in 2008, she returned as the Project Leader of the Lubbock Center cotton breeding program.

It’s 2023, Jane is working through her 42nd crop,
with a passion that has been aflame since childhood. We could go into great detail on Dr. Dever and her 42-year career that helped transform the Texas High Plains cotton industry. But the stories below are what make her Jane.

The Stories of Jane

The Kveton Siblings

When Jane showed up for class as a freshman at New Deal High School in 1975, news was spreading through the halls like wildfire. “We have new students this year,” one said, looking down the hall. “Four

The Kvetons

Vietnamese kids are going to be in school with us!”

That’s a big deal for a small rural town, where many had never been beyond Lubbock, much less another country. All four of the new students were close in age to the four youngest Kveton siblings and Jane quickly became friends with Ninh. He was shy and reserved like her and they hit it off almost immediately.

Jane came banging through the screen door one day after school, calling for her mom.

“Mom, Ninh didn’t come to school today.”

“Mama Jean,” as she was lovingly referred to, decided to investigate.

Turns out, the four new Vietnamese students were in the foster care system and had saved their lunch money for months to escape a bad situation. They didn’t get far before they found themselves on a 160-acre farm in Abernathy, Texas, surrounded by Czech farmers.

The foster care system was trying to find a family to place them with, but no one wanted to take all four of them together.

“They’ve been split up enough,” Mama Jean told the social worker. “They can all come home with me.”

So, in December of that year, they did just that. John Kveton used to tell anybody that would listen, “I came home from harvesting cotton one day and had four more kids somehow.”

They were the four oldest siblings of a family of eight, whose father — an officer in the South Vietnamese army — was killed at the end of the Vietnam War.

These four children, Hue, 17, Hoa, 16, Ninh, 14 and Thanh, 12, were sent to America by their mother, Qui, who hoped they would have a better life. John and Jean Kveton helped give them that.

These were the first four children the Kvetons officially fostered. They had already opened their home to their children’s friends, relatives, and relatives of friends. In all, the Kvetons claimed 23 children for their own — six biological and 17 of the heart. To this day, they still have big family reunions where they get together once a year.

Kveton Sibling Reunion 2023.

The Lost Art of Hoeing Rows

Before the glory days of cotton resistant to glyphosate, glufosinate, 2, 4-Dichlorophenoxyacetic acid, and/or dicamba, the main weed management system was hoeing. And if you grew up related to a farmer, you

Jane with a hoe at the Lubbock Center in 2021.

would find yourself on the hoeing crew. Before Jane could do much else, she was removing weeds in cotton fields using a hoe with the handle shortened to accommodate her small stature.

When Jane was a graduate student and research assistant at the Texas A&M AgriLife Lubbock Center, weeds had to be top of mind at every turn. When working on genetic improvement before herbicide tolerant traits are incorporated, researchers engage in what Jane refers to as “1970 farming.” Without GE herbicide technology and limited availability of residuals that would not mask genetic differences, there is only tillage and hard work are the only tools for weed management.

Her first year at the center, in 1983, field bindweed was a serious problem for producers and researchers alike. There was no killing it. Once it came up, you had to dig it out of the ground, or it would immediately take over the entire field.

One of Jane’s first memories at the Lubbock Center is going out every morning with a trowel, bucket and trash bag with instructions from her boss, Dr. John Gannaway. They had the same routine every day:

– Dig, dig, dig out the bindweed,

– Place in trash bag,

– Tie up the trash bag really tight

– Throw in dumpster

– Repeat

The Kvetons didn’t have bindweed on the farm, so Jane thought the whole process was ridiculous. Turns out, her father John and Uncle Henry would hoe weeds right when they came up, so, of course, she didn’t grow up with bindweed. They were coined the “Gardener Farmers” for a reason.

And, while herbicide technology has been a great blessing to producers in the area, it’s also turned hoeing into a lost art.

“When you have herbicide technology in the seed and/or spray applications of it on your fields, you may not see any weeds,” Jane said. “However, with fields so clean, producers may not be paying attention to the sides of the roads surrounding their fields and those weeds can creep in.”

And, as she learned with the bindweed in 1983, once the weeds are in, they’re incredibly difficult to remove. Her experience came back full circle in 2019 as weeds infiltrated some trial plots. Jane gathered her team together.

“I’m so sorry,” she told them looking around the room, “but we’re fixing to have to dig weeds out of rows to fight this infiltration. You see in 1983, Dr. Gannaway showed us…”

Researcher Carol Kelly digging out bindweed in 2019 with Jane.

For the first two months of any summer student’s tenure at the Center, they have to hoe. “I always tell the students, ‘You think you’re never going to get on top of it, but you will have solid weed control if you just stick with it the first month or two,’” Jane added.

New Mom at 58

Jane’s husband James is a caretaker by heart. He’s taken care of their parents as they grow older and always helped look after his older sister’s children. They were very close with one of his nieces named Megan. Megan lost her husband when the kids were young to a brain aneurysm, so Megan’s children, Catherine and Mikayla, would all come over to Jane’s house for dinner after school frequently while Megan worked.  

In 2019, Megan and Catherine were in a horrible car accident. Megan didn’t make it. In the blink of an eye, Jane found herself the legal guardian of two teenagers experiencing tragic loss.

Much like her parents did many years ago, Jane and James never gave it a second thought when it came to bringing Catherine and Mikayla into their home. In fact, they left their cozy two-bedroom townhouse and moved into a three-bedroom apartment in Lynwood to accommodate everyone.

Catherine and Mikayla have since graduated high school and started their own independent lives; however, they always know they have a home to come back to. Because much like her parents did for their children, Jane and James will always be “home” for them.

‘My Research Doesn’t Belong to Me. It Belongs to Texas High Plains Cotton Producers’

Jane and I are sitting in my office. She’s just told me that she’s leaving.

Jane is retiring from Texas A&M AgriLife Lubbock Center — her last day will be February 29. She is moving to Florence, South Carolina, to be the new Director of the Pee Dee Research & Education Center at Clemson University.

I asked her how she felt about leaving her breeding program. I assumed she felt ownership of it with all that she’s accomplished over four decades.

This was her response and sums up the Jane that you and I are going to miss terribly.

“I don’t consider it my program or my people. My fondest dream is to have enough money to develop an endowed chair for this position. But it wouldn’t be named the Jane K. Dever Endowed Chair in Cotton Breeding. I would want to name it the Plains Cotton Endowed Chair in Cotton Breeding, because that’s who that program belongs to. Not me. It belongs to the producers of this great region, the Texas High Plains.”

We wish Jane the best of luck in her new adventure and words cannot express the impact she has had on the Texas High Plains cotton industry.

PCG Releases 2023 Annual Report

PCG fulfills its mission to Texas High Plains cotton producers through legislative advocacy, research objectives, cotton promotion and service.

West Texas Cotton Quality Report for the 2023 Season

2023 Cotton Quality Report

This is a weekly summary of the cotton classed at the Lubbock and Lamesa USDA Cotton Division Cotton Classing Offices for the 2023 production season.

Lamesa’s average daily number of cotton samples received this week is 5,085. The office is currently 73% complete in the classing of their season estimate of samples.

Lubbock’s average daily number of cotton samples received this week is 21,025. The office is 91% complete in the classing of their season estimate of samples.

This week’s quality reports:

Lamesa

Lubbock

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