The fate of cotton in the next farm bill is of great concern to the industry. Cotton was left wanting in the 2014 farm bill, and two poor growing years in a row has left the industry struggling. Fellow farm broadcaster Tony St. James had an opportunity to talk to House Ag Chairman, Mike Conaway regarding the outlook for cotton in the 2018 bill:
“Well, it’s s till a two-step process, the farm bill, which I have more control over, wouldn’t take effect until the 2019 crop year and the payments wouldn’t go out until 2020 which is a long time from now. Cotton farmers need something in the mean time…in between.
“Still working with Sonny Perdue on a gin cost/share, a repeat of last year. I think the Secretary is in full agreement on that, the issue is the amount that can be allowed, and have to get the OMB on board with that. But, that would be the near-term step that the administration could do, and I fully expect will, at some point, soon. That’s my anticipation based on the secretary’s understanding of just how hammered prices have been.
“If there is some other legislative fix, we had an elegant fix last April, that would have been revenue neutral that would fixed cotton, and provided the essential help that all the other blighted crops are getting, to cotton now. and as you know that was torpedoed by Senator Stabenow, Senator Leahy, on the senate side, and we were unable to get that done.
“You know, I’m open to any and every opportunity to fix this, but it’s a minimum two-step process. First, the farm bill, and then two, what would we do between now and then to get the help to cotton farmers that all other commodity folks are benefiting from.”
Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue took questions from reporters at the annual National Farm Broadcasters Association convention in Kansas City last week, and Perdue had these comments regarding cotton’s place in the next farm bill:
“I think the Cotton Council and really the cotton producers are really interested in getting back into Title I. As you all know after the WTO adjudication that went against cotton prior to the ’14 farm bill, they are the ones that said ‘don’t poke another finger in Brazil’s eye, don’t put us in Title I, let us try these other programs’.
“Sadly, they’ve not turned out with the STAX program as successfully as they’d hoped. So, I think you will the committees, both in the House and on the Senate, look to get cotton back in Title I, whether that means a separation between the seed and the lint, which can be fairly expensive, but they hit us up with that early on. Currently, we’re working on another version of the gin cost/share program, this year. Similar to what happened last year, hopefully will bridge us over to the 2018 farm bill, where the cotton issue, I think, can be corrected.”