Welcome to the December 8, 2023 issue of Cotton News, a service provided by Plains Cotton Growers Inc. for the cotton industry in the Texas High Plains and beyond.
Update on the 2022 Emergency Relief Program
Late last month, 2022 ERP payments were suspended as USDA began an investigation into the number of applications with an “underserved producer” status and/or change to a standard beneficial interest (SBI) status. That suspension has been lifted and payments are again being issued.
Today, we’ll provide an update on the program’s status plus Congress and industry response to such.
Today, USDA issued Notice ERP-16: Emergency Relief Program Phase 1 and Phase 2 Requests Deadline.
This notice informs state and county offices that their deadline to:
- Act on ERP Phase 1 and ERP Phase 2 requests is Dec. 13, 2023.
- Submit ERP Phase 1 and ERP Phase 2 relief requests is DAFP by Dec. 15, 2023.
CONGRESS REACTS TO 2022 ERP
According to Jim Wiesemeyer with ProFarmer, USDA is responding to criticism from Republican lawmakers regarding their management of the Emergency Relief Program (ERP) for 2022 losses. A USDA spokesperson explained that the main issue is a lack of funding from Congress. They stated that Congress allocated only $3.2 billion to cover losses totaling over $10 billion. This funding gap forced USDA to make difficult choices to prioritize assistance for those in greatest need. The spokesperson added that if members of Congress are dissatisfied with these choices, they should advocate for more resources to enable the USDA to fully compensate farmers for their losses.
Some Republican House and Senate members have expressed their concerns to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack, particularly regarding the new payment formula used for ERP in 2022. They believe this formula, different from the one used in 2020 and 2021, may result in significant producers receiving minimal or no assistance.
Sen. John Hoeven (R-ND), Ranking Member of the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Committee, led a group of senators this week in requesting a Government Accountability Office (GAO) review of USDA’s implementation of disaster assistance for producer losses occurring in 2022.
Reps. Jodey Arrington (R-TX), and Ronny Jackson (R-TX), expressed their concern with 2022 ERP disparities in a press release issued by Arrington’s office. PCG CEO Kody Bessent was also quoted, saying:
“Plains Cotton Growers Inc., strongly supports efforts led by the House, Senate and agriculture industry to rectify the recent disparities created by USDA in the implementation of the Emergency Relief Program for the 2022 crop year. USDA is operating on their own accord and against congressional intent in the application of this program, specifically in the newly developed progressive payment factor used to prorate payments inequitably and the biased method used to incorporate producer-paid insurance premiums and fees. Cotton farmers across Texas and the U.S. have been vastly impacted by concurrent events in 2022 brought on by mother nature — this is especially true in the Texas High Plains region. A correctly implemented program by USDA as Congress intended will greatly help the agriculture industry in such times of financial strain and loss. We look forward to continuing the work with Congress to swiftly correct the disparities and inadequacies created by USDA in administrating the ERP for the 2022 crop year.”
The Senate Committee on Agriculture, Forestry and Nutrition also published an article discussing the ramifications of the current 2022 ERP parameters, claiming that the current structure of the program creates winners and losers out of the producers it’s supposed to help.
When the official rule of the 2022 Emergency Relief Program was released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, PCG CEO Kody Bessent addressed the disparities of the program in the October 27 issue of Cotton News. That following Monday, PCG provided a more thorough analysis of what to expect with 2022 ERP.
We continue to work with Congress to urge USDA to make corrections to the current program and will keep you apprised of our efforts.
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 4,934. The office is currently 38% complete in the classing of their season estimate of samples.
Lubbock’s average daily number of cotton samples received this week is 27,826. The office is 65% complete in the classing of their season estimate of samples.