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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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