Welcome to the January 13, 2023 issue of “Cotton News,” a service provided by Plains Cotton Growers Inc. for the cotton industry in the Texas High Plains and beyond.
Washington D.C. Update
Chairman Jodey Arrington
Rep. Jodey Arrington (R-Texas) was selected to serve as House Budget Committee Chairman for the 118th Congress Jan. 9, 2023.
“I am humbled by the confidence and trust of my colleagues to lead the effort to rein in spending, reduce our debt and restore fiscal responsibility in our nation’s capital as chairman of the House Budget Committee,” Arrington said. “With the national debt surpassing $31 trillion and over 120% of our entire economy, I believe confronting our unsustainable debt is the greatest challenge of the 21st century. I look forward to working with all of my colleagues to ensure hte next generations of Americans inherit the same freedoms and opportunities we did.”
Debbie Stabenow Announces Retirement
Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich), Senate Agriculture Committee Chair, announced January 5th she will not seek re-election in 2024.
“Inspired by a new generation of leaders, I have decided to pass the torch in the U.S. Senate,” she said. “For the next two years I am focused on continuing the work to improve the lives of Michiganders. This includes leading the passage of the next five-year Farm Bill, which determines our nation’s food and agriculture policies.”
88th Texas Legislature Convenes
The Texas Legislature convened Jan. 10, 2023, for the 88th legislative session and elected Rep. Dade Phalen (R-District 21) as Speaker of the Texas House for a second term.
The chamber’s priorities for this session include:
- Providing lasting, meaningful property tax relief;
- Increasing access to and giving patients greater control over their healthcare;
- Prioritizing criminal justice reform;
- Utilizing the state’s once-in-a-lifetime budget surplus to improve infrastructure;
- Fighting back against the exploitation, sexualization and indoctrination of Texas children;
- Making schools safer for students and teachers;
- Extending postpartum health coverage for new mothers to a full year; and
- Addressing the threats posed by a porous border.
Gore Receives 2022 Cotton Genetics Research Award
Dr. Michael Gore, noted scientist and professor in Cornell University’s School of Integrative Plant Science (SIPS), is the 2022 Cotton Genetics Research Award recipient.
The announcement was made today during the 2023 Beltwide Cotton Improvement Conference, which convened as part of the National Cotton Council-coordinated 2023 Beltwide Cotton Conferences in New Orleans. Gore, who was selected by the Joint Cotton Breeding Committee, received a plaque and a monetary award.
SIPS Director Dr. Jocelyn Rose, one of Dr. Gore’s nominators, said his ground-breaking cotton genetics research has had a lasting impact on the cotton breeding and genetics community and beyond. She said that he has an innate passion for genetically improving crops through the large-scale identification of causal genes and the development of predictive models that are now being collaboratively used by breeders to accelerate the breeding process.
Specific to cotton, Dr. Rose said Dr. Gore’s research supported efforts to transfer the superior fiber traits of Pima cotton to higher yielding upland cotton. She noted that among other achievements, he has helped reveal the levels and patterns of genetic diversity for several cotton species and “his work has helped breeders on how to best find and utilize allelic diversity to increase the resiliency of cotton to changing weather patterns and rapidly evolving pests and pathogens.”
Another nominator, Dr. Jonathan Wendel, a professor in Iowa State’s Department of Ecology, Evolution and Organismal Biology, said Dr. Gore is “a remarkably productive, versatile, and accomplished scientist” who has been awarded more than $9.3 million in grant funding and his research accomplishments reported in 143 peer-reviewed articles. He said Dr. Gore, in fact, has averaged an astonishing 10 peer-reviewed publications per year in predominantly high impact journals since completing his Ph.D. in 2009. Dr. Gore, a member of multiple scientific and professional societies, currently serves as editor of The Plant Phenome Journal.
Dr. Gore has received numerous awards throughout his career among them being recently named a Fellow by the Crop Science Society of America.
Dr. Gore earned his bachelor’s degree in Plant Breeding from Cornell and his master’s and his Ph.D. in Crop and Soil Environmental Sciences from Virginia Tech. He was a researcher for Rohm and Hass, Pioneer Hi-Bred International and Lancaster Labs before joining USDA’s Agricultural Research Service as a research geneticist in Arizona in 2009. In 2013 he joined Cornell in SIPS’ Plant Breeding and Genetics Section as an associate professor later becoming a professor and then chair of that section.
The annual Cotton Genetics Research Award was established in 1961 by U.S. commercial cotton breeders to recognize and encourage basic research in cotton genetics, cytogenetics and breeding. It is administered by the Joint Cotton Breeding Committee consisting of representatives of the NCC, the USDA, state experiment stations, Cotton Incorporated and commercial breeders.
The January U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) report increased its production estimate by 438,000 bales, from 14.24 million bales to 14.68 million bales. This seems a little far-fetched when compared to other reports. The USDA Cotton Ginnings report states 12.6 million bales have been ginned with 141 gins still running, and the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service will have classed 12.8 million bales of U.S. upland cotton by the end of this week.
Furthermore, regional classing offices are near completion. For reference, the Lubbock office is estimated to be 98% complete; Abilene is estimated to be 90% complete; and Lamesa is estimated to be 94% complete.
So, why an increase in production estimates? According to the WASDE, yield estimates averaging at a record of 947 pounds per acre in the US. That being said, one regional producer’s sentiment from last year may still prove true at the end of the season: “Did y’all ride around on your unicorns in Narnia finding all this cotton?” To be continued as final cotton crop production numbers come in.
Emergency Relief Program. Phase II Published
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has published the official rule for Phase II of the Emergency Relief Program (ERP).
As it stands today, this is the methodology used to determine a Phase II payment.
ERP Phase 2 Payment Calculation
Although producers will be able to apply for both the 2020 and 2021 disaster years, as applicable, on one form, ERP Phase 2 payments will be calculated separately for each disaster year. If a producer indicates that they have expected revenue for both specialty and high value crops and other crops for a disaster year, a payment will be calculated separately for specialty and high value crops and other crops for a disaster year.
To determine a producer’s ERP Phase 2 payment amount, FSA will calculate:
(1) The ERP factor of 70 percent  multiplied by the producer’s benchmark year allowable gross revenue, adjusted according to 7 CFR 760.1903, if applicable, minus
(2) The producer’s disaster year allowable gross revenue; minus
(3) The sum of the producer’s net ERP Phase 1 payments for the 2020 program year, if the calculation is for the 2020 disaster year, or for the 2021 and 2022  program years, if the calculation is for the 2021 disaster year; minus
(4) The sum of the producer’s net CFAP payments (excluding payments for contract producer revenue), net 2020 WHIP+ payments, and net 2020 Quality Loss Adjustment (QLA) Program payments, if the calculation is for the 2020 disaster year; and
(5) Multiplied by the percentage of the expected disaster year revenue for specialty and high value crops or other crops, as applicable.
ERP Phase 2 payments are subject to the availability of funds. FSA will issue an initial payment equal to the lesser of:
The amount calculated as described above; or
A maximum initial payment of $2,000.
If a producer has also received a payment under ERP Phase 1, FSA will reduce the producer’s initial ERP Phase 2 payment amount by subtracting their ERP Phase 1 gross payment amount.
If total calculated payments exceed the total funding available for ERP Phase 2, the ERP Factor may be adjusted and the final payment amounts will be prorated to stay within the amount of available funding. If there are insufficient funds, a differential of 15 percent will be used for underserved producers similar to ERP Phase 1, but with a cap at the statutory maximum of 70 percent.
For example, if the ERP Factor is set at 50 percent, the factor used for underserved producers will be 65 percent, but if the factor is set at 55 percent or higher, the factor for underserved producers will be capped at 70 percent. An initial payment to a producer will not be recalculated or reduced if the total calculated ERP Phase 2 factored payment for that producer is less than the initial payment amount.
If a producer receives additional assistance through CFAP or ERP Phase 1 after a producer’s ERP Phase 2 payment is calculated, the producer’s ERP Phase 2 payment will be recalculated and the producer must refund any resulting overpayment.
If you have questions you may call the office at 806-792-4904 or contact your Farm Service Agency county office.
Timeline for Phase II signup is January 23, 2023, through June 2, 2023.
Read the Rule for Phase II
Barker Farm Grants Texas A&M AgriLife Research Rights
Texas A&M AgriLife is gaining new ground in the South Plains for research, thanks to the generosity of Dolle Barker co-owner of Willingham Southwest Cotton Gin in Cochran County.
Stephen Cisneros, Texas A&M AgriLife Research associate director of operations and development, said Barker has entered into a multi-year agreement to grant Texas A&M AgriLife personnel the right to utilize the property in Cochran County, now known as Barker Research Farm, to conduct research on irrigated and non-irrigated cropland.
“We’re so excited and thankful for Dolle for allowing us to take our research from the lab to the field and engage with stakeholders and develop relationships within the community,” Cisneros said.
The project will involve both AgriLife Research and Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service personnel from the center in Lubbock, according to Kerry Siders, AgriLife Extension Integrated Pest Management agent in Cochran, Lamb and Hockley Counties.
Barker contacted Siders about allowing long-term research and educational programs on a 200-acre farm just east of Morton, Texas. This farm currently has 156 acres of center pivot irrigation, 34 acres in sub-surface drip irrigation and about 40 acres of non-irrigated corners.
Read the rest of the story in the West Plains IPM Newsletter.