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Texas High Plains Planting Conditions – Final Report

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

This will be the final report for the 2024 planting season. There are no Planting Conditions Forecast attachments this week, since temperatures are forecast to remain warm. I did attach a picture from Terry Co Irrigated Mixed Technology RACE trial, however.

Planting has progressed quickly in the region as the first of the insurance deadlines approaches. Overall, I estimate the entire West Texas region is about 70-80% planted, with irrigated at 85-90%, and dryland at about 50-60% planted. 

Planting in the Texas Panhandle is nearly complete for both irrigated and dryland, even though dry spots remain in much of that area. Early plantings have emerged, with some fields struggling due to the cool fronts those fields endured. Herbicide and Thrips applications have been made as the relentless high winds have allowed. Overall, conditions are much improved over this time in 2023, when this area’s cotton was whittled down to just a few acres.

In the Southern High Plains, areas north of Lubbock are nearly completed planting, with most fields planted in a fury over the last two weeks. While some fields struggled earlier, those that have emerged are in good condition. Like the Panhandle, winds have complicated herbicide and Thrips sprays. South of Lubbock most of the irrigated fields are planted, but few are up. Only about half of the dryland fields are planted, and many were dry-planted in hopes of an upcoming rain.

There have been some scattered reports of cotton ‘burning up’ soon after emergence, and I suspect those fields had a planting rain with very little subsoil moisture. Seedlings germinated and emerged, but in the absence of additional rain, the root system reached the dry layer a few inches below the surface, and with the higher-than-normal temperatures we’ve experienced, the seedlings quickly wilted. It remains to be seen if affected acres will be replanted; much will depend on the rain chances forecast for the remainder of this week.

Our Replicated Agronomic Cotton Evaluations (RACE trials) typically serve as a good survey of the Southern High Plains. We are 85% planted with those trials, with only two dryland and one drip field remaining. Fortunately, only one trial was dry-planted; others were planted into at least some moisture. We’ve established stands at about half of the trials thus far. Many thanks to our great grower-cooperators for their flexibility during this planting season!

 

Terry County Irrigated Mixed Technology RACE Trial

May 24, 2024

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

The Farm Bill “Super Bowl” – First Quarter

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stay tuned for the Second Quarter.

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Chairman Thompson Delivers Opening Statement at Markup of the Farm, Food, and National Security Act of 2024

WASHINGTON, DC — Today, Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, Glenn “GT” Thompson (PA-15), delivered the following opening remarks at today’s full committee markup of H.R. 8467, the Farm, Food, and National Security Act of 2024:

Remarks as prepared for delivery:

Good morning, and welcome to the Committee’s consideration of the Farm, Food, and National Security Act of 2024.

When I became Chairman of the House Committee on Agriculture, I took seriously my mandate to protect our food supply and enhance the impact of our nation’s agricultural value chain. Across each title of this bill are new and better tools and resources for our farmers and rural communities. From production and processing, to delivery and consumption, this bill strengthens the rural economy across every region, state, and district.

While a few armchair critics have gotten louder these last few weeks, aiming to divide the Committee and fracture the process that brings about a bipartisan, bicameral Farm Bill, I believe it is important to focus on the substance of the legislation before us today.

Over the past few decades, the farm safety net has lost its ability to protect those who are the backbone of our great nation. American farmers face natural disasters, take huge personal risk, and are at the whims of regulatory overreach. It is a privilege to deliver a farm bill that strengthens the risk mitigation measures available to producers, providing certainty in a time of volatility.

The restoration of the farm safety net does come at a cost, and I have spent a lot of time with the Congressional Budget Office and the Budget Committee to correct erroneous assumptions. The Budget Committee has been a terrific partner, and that work will continue to ensure that not only do we correct those erroneous assessments, but do so in a transparent, judicious manner that restores the farm safety net and integrity to current and future agricultural estimates.

The Farm, Food, and National Security Act also provides historic, long-term investments in conservation programming through a practical reinvestment of Inflation Reduction Act conservation dollars. Reorganizing these dollars allows substantial investment in the voluntary, locally-led, and incentive-based conservation programs that are popular, flexible, and beneficial.  As many of you know, the conservation portion of the IRA was not considered by this Committee in 2021, instead $20 billion appeared once the bill moved to the Rules Committee. So today, the bill before us uses those dollars for conservation programming in Title II, something so important to this Committee.

Over the past few weeks, many have voiced concerns about a policy shift that both restores regular order and allows transformational investment in our low-income communities.

For more than 40 years, updates to the Thrifty Food Plan were cost neutral. In 2021, President Biden unilaterally, intentionally—and according to GAO—unlawfully, updated the market basket to no longer be cost neutral, resulting in a $256 billion addition to the farm bill baseline.

The Administration and my Democratic colleagues purport the update was science-based and transparent, and have even gone so far to say that no one can arbitrarily increase SNAP. However, Secretary Vilsack stood by his team as they did just that, through a rushed process devoid of thoroughness and filled with politics.

The TFP update before us does not cater to any one side; it is a balanced approach, forward-looking, underscored by the need for Congress to reassert its authority.

If the benefit must be increased beyond inflation, Congress must consider and execute.

Importantly, and as CBO recognizes, annual cost of living adjustments remain, so SNAP benefits will continue to rise and respond to inflation. Unfortunately, I have learned my Democratic colleagues were led to believe otherwise.

So what does the bill before us do with CBO’s assumption—an assumption that allows significant, historic investment in the title, of which has been intentionally ignored?

Republicans are providing additional financial resources across multiple programs that have successfully benefited tribal communities, seniors, and households pursuing healthier options.

Republicans are championing efforts for individuals to remain on their current career pathways without choosing between SNAP and employment or education.

Republicans are correcting a draconian, outdated policy option to now allow all individuals with past drug offenses to receive SNAP, aligning federal policy with the will of dozens of states across the nation.

Republicans are increasing resources available to the Nutrition Assistance Program block grant for Puerto Rico and encouraging both USDA and Puerto Rico to continue to formulate a financially and operationally viable pathway toward a transition from the block grant to SNAP.

And Republicans are holding USDA and the States who administer SNAP accountable to the American taxpayer.

In further efforts to disrupt the process, there has been talk about the movement of money across titles or the longstanding coalition of food and farm advocates. I assume it needs reminding of contemporary farm bills where farmers were stripped of billions in exchange for additional funds in nutrition, or where nutrition saw a 1 percent decrease in the deficit reduction exercise of 2014, yet farmers had to face an astonishing 25 percent cut. So, I have no shame transitioning available resources to the nearly unanimous, bipartisan priorities shared by each of you and incorporated in this bill, including trade promotion, research, and various specialty crop programs.

Each of the titles within this bill are supremely important to our rural communities. Providing access to credit, streamlining policies to provide connectivity to the many, improving precision agriculture, encouraging active forest management and enhancing forest health, creating access to energy system and efficiency updates, protecting plant health and specialty crop competitiveness, and protecting the livestock and poultry industry from catastrophic disease and the inside-the-beltway animal welfare activists,  are each worthy topics and policies that demand strong consideration as this markup unfolds.

I firmly believe the legislation before us today restores a robust rural economy, invests in America’s farmers, ranchers, and foresters, and bolsters every facet of American agriculture. And having seen the widespread support from stakeholders across this country, I believe we have achieved that goal.

As I said last week, a farm bill has long been an example of consensus, where both sides must take a step off the soapbox and have tough conversations. I do not draw redlines; I do not close the door to conversation. I could not have been clearer throughout this process that I was willing to work with each one of you to find a pathway forward on this bill. I have been here, I have been transparent, and I have been fighting for American agriculture.

Before I close, my appreciation to the staff on both sides of the aisle who have, for the most part, produced the bill text before you. Working in Washington is not easy, and you all have done a tremendous job of ignoring the noise and bringing to life the priorities of the Members you serve. Thank you.

With that, I yield to the distinguished Ranking Member, the gentleman from Georgia.

2024 Farm Bill Information Released

Both chambers have released overviews of their respective farm bill packages.

House Agriculture Committee Chair Glenn “GT” Thompson (R-PA) said, “This bill is a product of an extensive and transparent process, which included soliciting feedback from members of both political parties, stakeholder input from across the nation, and some tough conversations. Each title of this farm bill reflects a commitment to the American farmer and viable pathways to funding those commitments, and is equally responsive to the politics of the 118th Congress. The Committee on Agriculture will mark up this bill on May 23, and I hope for unanimous support in this endeavor to bring stability to producers, protect our nation’s food security and revitalize rural America.”

You can read the House farm bill overview here.

Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) also released her version of the legislation. “This is a serious proposal that reflects bipartisan priorities to keep farmers farming, families fed, and rural communities strong,” she said. “The foundation of every successful Farm Bill is built on holding together the broad, bipartisan coalition of farmers, rural communities, nutrition and hunger advocates, researchers, conservationists, and the climate community. This is that bill, and I welcome my Republican colleagues to take it seriously and rejoin us at the negotiating table so we can finish our work by the end of the year. Farmers, families, and rural communities cannot wait any longer on the 2024 Farm Bill.”

You can read the Senate farm bill overview here.

Ranking Member of the Senate ag committee John Boozman (R-AR) issued a statement regarding Stabenow’s release, saying:

“Chairwoman Stabenow and I have had several conversations about getting our ideas down on paper, so the release of the majority’s framework is a welcome development. My colleagues and I will be soliciting input from stakeholders as we consider these ideas alongside the approach we have constructed in our framework, which will be released after the House considers its bill in the coming weeks. With Chairwoman Stabenow releasing a framework that reflects Senate Democrats’ priorities, and Chairman Thompson’s work to advance legislation out of committee this month, I’m optimistic that real progress on the farm bill can still occur this Congress.

Our actions must reflect the realities in farm country. Farmers are facing challenging times that, by every metric, are likely to continue in the coming years. Considering the farm bill only comes around every five years, we must ensure we do right by our farmers and make meaningful investments in the risk management tools they rely on to weather the storm.”

Bill mark-up for the House version is May 23. As of press time, the Senate has not scheduled their work session. If you have questions, call the office at 806-792-4904.

The Details Behind the 2022 Emergency Relief Program

If you haven’t read PCG CEO Kody Bessent’s take on the new 2022 Emergency Relief Program, click here.

DATES: Funding availability: Application period for Track 1 will begin October 31, 2023. Application period for Track 2 will begin October 31, 2023. Contact your local FSA office for instructions on how to apply for Track 2 — FSA will be mailing out pre-filled applications for Track 1. You may still apply for Track 1 if you do not receive a pre-filled application.

COMMENTS: The U.S. Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency will consider comments received by January 2, 2024.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments by the following method: Federal eRulemaking Portal: Go to https://www.regulations.gov and search for Docket ID FSA–2023–0020.

You may also send comments to the Desk Officer for Agriculture, Office of the Information and Regulatory Affairs, Office of Management and Budget, Washington, DC 20503. Comments will be available for public inspection online at https://www.regulations.gov.

Track Overview

Track 1 will provide a streamlined application process for eligible crop and tree losses during the 2022 or 2023 crop years for which a producer had:

-A Federal crop insurance policy that provided coverage for crop production losses or tree losses related to the qualifying disaster events and received an indemnity for a crop and unit, excluding:

  • crops with an intended use of grazing,
  • livestock policies,
  • forage seeding,
  • Margin Protection Plan policies purchased without a base policy,
  • banana plants insured under the Hawaii Tropical Trees provisions, and
  • policies issued in Puerto Rico; or

-NAP coverage and received a NAP payment for a crop and unit, excluding crops with an intended use of grazing. The applicable Federal crop insurance policies and NAP provide payments to producers for crop and tree losses due to eligible causes of loss, as defined in the producer’s Federal crop insurance policy or NAP regulations and basic provisions. RMA and FSA are using data submitted by producers for Federal crop insurance or NAP purposes to calculate a producer’s eligible loss under Track 1. The Track 1 payment calculation is intended to compensate eligible crop and tree producers for a percentage of that loss determined by the applicable ERP factor, which varies based on the producer’s level of Federal crop insurance or NAP coverage.

Track 2 will provide assistance for eligible revenue, production, and quality losses of eligible crops not included in Track 1 — similar to Phase 2 of the previous ERP program. FSA has determined that the best estimation of such losses is a producer’s decrease in disaster year revenue compared to a benchmark year revenue, where benchmark year revenue represents a producer’s revenue prior to the impact of the qualifying disaster event.

Payment Factoring

According to the notice issued by USDA, progressive factoring will be used to calculate payments. See figure 1.

Figure 1 (click on image to download)

The basic examples used by the notice break down how payments will be calculated.

For example, to apply progressive factoring to a calculated loss (after subtraction of indemnities) of $5,000, FSA would multiply:

  • the first $2,000 by a factor of 100 percent ($2,000 × 100% = $2,000),
  • the second $2,000 by a factor of 80 percent ($2,000 × 80% = $1,600), and
  • the remaining $1,000 by a factor of 60 percent ($1,000 × 60% = $600).

The sum of those calculations is $4,200, which is the calculated ERP 2022 payment after progressive factoring.

For another example, to apply progressive factoring to a calculated loss (after subtraction of indemnities) of $430,000, FSA would multiply:

  • the first $2,000 by a factor of 100 percent ($2,000 × 100% = $2,000),
  • the second $2,000 by a factor of 80 percent ($2,000 × 80% = $1,600),
  • the third $2,000 by a factor of 60 percent ($2,000 × 60% = $1,200),
  • the fourth $2,000 by a factor of 40 percent ($2,000 × 40% = $800),
  • the fifth $2,000 by a factor of 20% ($2,000 × 20% = $400), and
  • the remaining $420,000 by a factor of 10 percent ($420,000 × 10% = $42,000).

The sum of those calculations is $48,000, which is the calculated ERP 2022 payment after progressive factoring.

For underserved producers, the producer’s share of the Federal crop insurance administrative fee and premium will be added to the resulting sum.

For all eligible crop producers, FSA will then apply a final payment factor of 75 percent, resulting in the producer’s calculated Track 1 payment. So in the example above, the $48,000 calculation will be factored by 75% resulting in a payment of $36,000 to the producer. We’ve provided visual aids below, which are available for download.

Click on the image to download.

Click on the image to download.

2023 Seed Cost Calculator Now Available

The 2023 version of the Plains Cotton Growers Inc. Seed Cost Calculator is available for download 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. 

Download the report here.