First Step Forward

The National Cotton Council has actively conveyed to Congress the U.S. cotton industry’s policy priorities for the next farm legislation.

What is the NCC’s stance on the House Agriculture Committee farm bill markup?

gary adams, ncc
Gary Adams, NCC

The National Cotton Council has expressed its strong support for the House Agriculture Committee markup of the farm bill. Despite reports in the national media highlighting divisions during the markup, I was impressed by the bipartisan desire to take action that benefits all parties involved — farmers and families alike.

Prior to the markup, the NCC sent a letter applauding House Agriculture Committee Chairman Glenn Thompson for crafting a farm bill that addresses the pressing needs of cotton producers across the United States. Considering the escalating on-farm production costs, this legislative effort is recognized as a substantial step towards alleviating the financial pressures faced by cotton growers and ensuring the sustainability of cotton production in the country.

The NCC appreciates the bill’s enhancements to risk management options available to growers, which are expected to provide more affordable avenues for protecting their crops and livelihoods. The improvements made in the marketing loan program are also acknowledged as they promise to offer much-needed relief and support to the industry.

The NCC emphasizes the importance of bipartisan cooperation to ensure the Farm Bill’s final passage in 2024.

In addition to these measures, the NCC is particularly pleased with the additional support for domestic textile manufacturers. This aspect of the bill is seen as a positive move to bolster the entire cotton supply chain, from field to fabric, ensuring the health and competitiveness of the U.S. cotton industry on a global scale.

What are the key provisions of the markup that address the priorities of the NCC?

The farm bill that advanced out of the House Agriculture Committee addresses many of the NCC’s key priorities. Importantly, the legislation raises the seed cotton reference price to 42 cents per pound and increases premium support for the Supplemental Coverage Option to 80% while raising the top coverage level to 90%. The bill also: 1) raises the upland cotton Marketing Assistance Loan rate to 55 cents per pound and makes numerous improvements to the loan program provisions to improve cotton flow; 2) increases the Pima cotton loan rate to $1.00 per pound and adds marketing loan repayment provisions; 3) increases the Economic Adjustment Assistance for Textile Mills rate to five cents per pound; and 4) doubles funding for U.S. Department of Agriculture’s commodity trade promotion initiatives.

What is the next step?

While this is just a starting point, fortunately, a well-debated bill has provided clarity on where many Representatives stand. This insight will be beneficial for future negotiations as the farm bill progresses toward a potential floor vote or as discussions begin with the Senate.

In the Senate, we have separate framework proposals from Chairwoman Stabenow and Ranking Member Boozman. We are encouraged to see that Senator Boozman’s framework will significantly boost the safety net for production agriculture. The NCC urges all parties to work together to ensure a final Farm Bill is enacted in the coming months. An extension of current law is not acceptable.

Gary Adams is president/CEO of the National Cotton Council of America.

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