The National Cotton Council (NCC) believes it is crucial that a meaningful safety net for cotton be included in the next farm bill.
What is the current economic situation?
During the past few years, U.S. cotton producers have struggled with cotton prices not adequate enough to cover their production costs. Although prices have improved from the lows seen in 2015, many producers are still struggling to cover their total production costs.
What is the NCC’s farm bill development focus?
First of all, the NCC continues working to get a cottonseed policy in place as a bridge until the new farm law is enacted. Regarding cotton’s policy needs in the next farm bill, Tom Lahey, a Kansas cotton producer and NCC delegate, recently testified at a Senate agriculture committee hearing that cotton is the only traditional “program” crop that does not have any long-term price or revenue protection policy in 2014 farm law. Thus, strengthening cotton’s safety net is imperative, specifically bringing cotton back into Title I commodity policy. Doing so will enable cotton producers to access many risk management tools that other crops employ to help them withstand periods of price declines and depressed market conditions.
Lahey also testified that in addition to a meaningful safety net, the U.S. cotton industry relies heavily on a properly functioning marketing loan program. So maintaining that policy with minor adjustments is a priority. Our industry also will work to prevent any further tightening of payment limits and eligibility requirements. We believe these provisions already are too burdensome and restrictive in light of the size and scale of production agriculture necessary to be competitive in today’s global market. Additionally, there is a need for enhanced cotton crop insurance policies, including improvements in quality loss provisions. I encourage industry members to read Lahey’s complete testimony, which is available from the NCC website’s home page, www.cotton.org.
Are proposed budget cuts being fought?
The NCC joined more than 500 organizations on a letter to the leadership of the House/Senate budget and appropriations committees strongly urging them to reject calls for additional cuts to policies within the jurisdiction of the House and Senate agriculture committees. Such cuts would hinder development of new farm law and undermine that legislation’s effectiveness. House Agriculture Committee leadership reinforced that plea in its FY18 Budget Views/Estimates Letter to the House Budget Committee. That panel was asked to consider the 2014 farm law’s contribution to deficit reduction — an estimated $104 billion in savings achieved or more than four times what had been pledged.
The NCC also joined with other Crop Insurance Coalition members in urging opposition to any proposed cuts to crop insurance. Letters seeking protection of crop insurance programs recently were sent to: 1) the House/Senate budget and appropriations committees, 2) Agriculture Secretary Designate Sonny Perdue and 3) Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney.
Gary Adams is president/chief executive officer of the National Cotton Council of America. He and other NCC leaders contribute columns on this Cotton Farming magazine page.