Cotton Links

- Editor's Note -

Industry Support Evident
Across Belt

By Tommy Horton

When the Cotton Farming editorial staff decided to take on the task of understanding what might lie ahead in the industry’s future, we knew we couldn’t predict everything that might happen. But this much we did know. No matter how the future is viewed, there are some rather amazing developments that will have a positive impact on U.S. cotton.

We all know about the dramatic acreage shifts that occurred in the past year as it pertains to corn, wheat and soybeans. That fact has had a definite effect on cotton acreage. But these are economic trends, and most experts believe there are other positive signals for cotton. For example, the price trends – especially for the December ‘08 futures contract – are the highest in the past five years. Those prices are in the mid-70 cent range and inching upward. That is significant, especially when viewed against the past few years. Another trend is how much corn acreage will come back to cotton.

Also quite evident is that technology and global demand for cotton will be the driving forces for the future. For that reason, we thought it more than appropriate to talk to a wide range of farmers, industry leaders and other officials to see how cotton can take advantage of this environment.

Granted, the new Farm Bill and the ongoing battle with the World Trade Organization will create a backdrop of rules and regulations for all production agriculture. But the industry has friends in Washington who haven’t forgotten agriculture, despite efforts by the Bush administration to slash important ag programs and change the landscape.

In this issue of Cotton Farming, you’ll find a broad spectrum of stories that paint an encouraging picture. Texas producer Rickey Bearden, who is the outgoing president of the Plains Cotton Growers Association, and Andy Jordan, recently-retired Technical Services Director of the National Cotton Council, both offer candid observations about how politics, economics and technology will affect U.S. cotton’s future. You’ll find their enlightening interview on pages 8, 9 and 10.

What about innovative technology? Senior Writer Carroll Smith offers a rare inside look at how the new module-harvester equipment is changing the way cotton is harvested and delivered to the gin. Despite what the naysayers might say, this is how we’ll harvest cotton in the future. Look for her story on pages 13 and 14.

How do farmers feel about cotton’s future? When you read the story about the Keyes family of Tensas Parish in Louisiana, you’ll better understand how loyal some farmers are toward cotton. This story (on pages 16 and 17) was contributed to us by Mike Danna of the Louisiana Farm Bureau, and it shows that when the dust clears, cotton will still be here, no matter what kind of economic trends occur.

Finally, Contributing Editor Brenda Carol tells us about exciting new developments occurring in California. Acreage may have decreased in that state, but cotton breeders are conducting important research for an industry that remains viable in the West. Brenda’s story is on pages 22 and 24. Meanwhile, Southeast Editor Amanda Huber examines an issue that is becoming a major problem in Georgia and that has to do with water shortages. How will the problem affect south Georgia’s farmers? Read Amanda’s update on page 20.

One fact we learned from this examination of cotton’s future. The industry isn’t being complacent about where it’s headed or what it needs to do to thrive economically in the decades ahead. The path is straight. The mission is clear. And there is no looking back.

If you have comments, send them to: Editor, Cotton Farming Magazine, 5118 Park Ave., Suite 111, Memphis, Tenn., 38117. Or send e-mail to: thorton@onegrower.com.


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