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In This Issue
Looking Ahead
Big Questions
Finding Solutions
Safety Net
Variety Data Must Be Studied
Riverside Farmer Wins Special Award
Estate Tax Issue Crucial For California Farms
USDA To Help Restore Gulf Coast
Navy Announces Purchase Of Biofuel
Deltapine Launches Three New Varieties
Back To Drawing Board For Farm Bill Debate
Record Floods Presented Challenge To Agricenter
Mid-South Farmers Forge On Despite 2011 Adversity
CFBF Group Completes Special Class
New Arkansas Gin Gains Global Reputation
Kansas State Students Embrace Cotton Class
Old Gins Have A Special Charm
American Ag Provides Array Of Food Choices
Energy Grants Help Rural Areas
AFBF Files Comments On Child Labor
Web Poll: Price Still Drives Cotton Acreage
Cotton's Agenda
What Customers Want
Publisher's Note
Editor's Note
Industry Comments
Specialists Speaking
Industry News
Cotton Ginners Marketplace
My Turn: Fighting Harder

Finding Solutions

Texas cotton producer Ronnie Hopper has seen a lot of changes in agriculture during his long career. Even though the Farm Bill and elections will create new challenges, he remains optimistic that a united industry and hard work will help achieve some ambitious goals.

By Ronnie Hopper
Petersburg, Texas
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The cotton family is fortunate to have a dedicated group of men and women who represent our industry segments, and I sincerely thank them for all of their work. They follow the tradition of those who steadfastly worked to ensure that sound policy moved our industry forward, and stand ready to direct us through the next Farm Bill debate.

This is a tall order indeed, given today’s legislative climate. The cotton industry and other commodity sectors are better prepared for this election season and forthcoming events than are the non-agriculture sectors, in my opinion.

The 2012 election cycle will be unlike any other events we have experienced. Record amounts of money will be spent by candidates of both parties. I fear the rhetoric will be divisive, generating more heat than light. Furthermore, I am concerned that Republican and Democratic parties, as well as the mainstream media, will attempt to unduly frame the debate.

Always Look At the Facts

I remember when the Texas Boll Weevil Program began in 1995. Just as in other states, we were mired in severe controversy with good men on both sides of the issue.

Donald Johnson, then executive vice president of Plains Cotton Growers, Inc., said in a meeting with the opponents of the program, “The facts are there for anyone who cares to look.”

Johnson was absolutely right. We have an individual responsibility – a special duty – during this election cycle to look for political facts and separate them from political fiction. I believe one fact is for certain. Our culture has changed dramatically.

Now, we have a culture of impunity. No person should be punished or held accountable when a law is broken, whether it is a lawmaker, a sports figure, a celebrity or anyone else for that matter.

How could this happen? Perhaps we were simply too involved with other business. Millions of good men and women play by the rules. They go to work, raise families, care about doing the right thing and quietly go about their everyday lives.

Today, we do not hold those who are in leadership positions accountable for their actions. In times past, those who were in the “public trust” were held to a higher standard, as they should be. This was common sense. Good governance is not rocket science. Rather, it is simply honest men and women who are in authority seeking to do the right thing for their country and their constituency – not for personal power or personal gain.

No Financial Accountability

A culture of fiscal irresponsibility in our government exists today. Additionally, the banking industry, especially Wall Street, is no longer held in esteem. Much of what I know, I learned years ago from my hometown banker. No, you do not know him, but I bet you knew one just like him.

When he loaned you money, he required that you have some form of security. It was understood that the banker expected you to repay the loan with interest.

Loaning you more money would only postpone the inevitable default. You must first rectify the problem. The banker has a fiduciary responsibility to the shareholders as well as to you. Your banker also taught you that if you actually spend more than you earn, you will go broke! Congress, are you listening?

Since 2008, studies show that Americans are saving more money, while Washington continues attempting to solve its problems by spending more and more of taxpayer money. There is no Debt Limit when this assigned number is continually raised or ignored by Congress.

If throwing money around Washing-ton, D.C., corrects a problem, then it would already have been resolved. In short, the United States of America is not able to grow its way out of debt or tax or inflate its way out of current problems. Our problem is a serious spending problem, not a taxing problem.

For our culture of rhetoric, we use cable news, radio, Internet and print media for our news information. Gone are the days when Walter Cronkite reported the facts of a news event, thereby leaving us the responsibility to decipher this information. Today, it is about ratings and the money generated by them.

Dedication Of Farmers

I have never met a farmer who did not want to leave land under his charge better than he found it. We may not think of it on a daily basis, but the desire is there nonetheless. Our commitment to preserve the land of our country is deeply rooted.

We struggle not only against nature at times, but also with the whims of outside forces who influence our business direction. Our goal should be to leave our government in better condition than we found it. Tall order you say?

I continue to firmly believe that we can work our way out of the problems that we face today. However, we need a change in the attitude of the American people and our government leaders. Let’s look at the facts and get to work.

Contact producer Ronnie Hopper in Petersburg, Texas, at (806) 667-2205 or via email at

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