The National Cotton Council pushed hard for FY23 federal appropriations that would support important research and promotion activities and provide much needed economic relief for U.S. cotton industry members.
How did the NCC convey those requests?
The NCC submitted its FY23 agriculture appropriations request to the House and Senate appropriations committees. It sought specific funding across USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS).
Through AMS, the NCC requested $4 million in funding to assist in modernizing and upgrading cotton classing laboratories. Increased funding for several initiatives was requested via ARS including for the cotton genetics labs in Florence, South Carolina and College Station, Texas; building renovations at the Southern Plains Agricultural Research Center, also in College Station; and for cotton quality research in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Also requested through APHIS was a $1 million increase for the Cotton Pests Account which funds the ongoing National Boll Weevil Eradication Program. A request of full funding for other important programs, including the Market Access Program and Foreign Market Development Program, Cotton Blue Disease research, and cotton ginning laboratories, was included. The NCC also joined other organizations on a letter to the leadership of the House and Senate agriculture appropriations subcommittees encouraging overall increased funding for federal research, Extension and education.
Were the requests adequately fulfilled?
Yes. The NCC publicly lauded House and Senate appropriations and agriculture committees’ leaders for including this much-needed assistance in the FY23 omnibus spending package that Congress approved and President Biden signed late in 2022. The package included $3.741 billion for disaster relief for ranchers and farmers, including cotton producers. This relief will aid those who suffered losses of revenue, quality or production losses of crops (including crops prevented from planting in 2022), due to droughts, wildfires, hurricanes, floods, derechos, excessive heat, tornadoes, winter storms, freeze, including a polar vortex, smoke exposure and excessive moisture occurring in calendar year 2022.
The package also provides $100 million for USDA to make payments to cotton merchandisers who have experienced economic losses. Also included was $15.45 million for cotton pest management activities, $4 million for USDA’s cotton classing laboratories, and increased funding for ARS cotton genetics and fiber quality research programs.
Among other provisions are those that would 1) provide technical assistance and verification for farmers, ranchers and foresters who participate in voluntary carbon markets; 2) reauthorize legislation that supports a more predictable regulatory process; and 3) extend EPA’s deadline for registration review decisions for all pesticide products until Oct. 1, 2026.
Any other budget-related action?
The NCC joined numerous other agricultural organizations on crop insurance support letters to Congressional leaders and the Biden Administration urging no harmful changes to the crop insurance program as it “provides predictable, within-budget assistance to farmers.” The NCC will continue advocating for a solid crop insurance program and other sound safety net provisions in the new farm bill. We also continue to support legislation introduced in both the Senate and House that would double funding for the Market Access Program and Foreign Market Development Program.