The National Cotton Council is engaging with Congress well before development and debate of the 2023 farm bill.
How have farm bill priorities been conveyed thus far?
Early this year, the NCC provided testimony at a House Agriculture Committee hearing, “A 2022 Review of the Farm Bill: Commodity Group Perspectives on Title 1.” Jaclyn Ford, a Georgia producer/ginner, emphasized the importance of the Agriculture Risk Coverage and Price Loss Coverage safety net for cotton and the integral role of the marketing loan program for multiple cotton industry segments regardless of market prices. She also noted the harmful economic disincentives created by lower program payment limits and more restrictive program eligibility requirements.
More recent testimony was provided at the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition & Forestry Committee’s hearing, “2023 Farm Bill: Perspectives From The Natural State.” Nathan Reed, chairman of the NCC’s American Cotton Producers, reiterated Ford’s points emphasizing the NCC maintains that effective farm policy must maximize participation without regard to farm size or income. Reed also cited the growing usage of the Seed Cotton Recourse Loan that enables producers to store production at harvest and provides more orderly marketing of cotton throughout the year.
In general, Reed testified that producers’ safety net in the next farm bill must consist of 1) an effective commodity policy that provides either price or revenue protection to address prolonged periods of low prices and depressed market conditions that span multiple years and 2) a strong/fully accessible suite of crop insurance products that producers can purchase for tailoring risk management that addresses yield and price volatility during the growing season. He said the combination of commodity program options and crop insurance provides producers, as well as their lenders, the confidence entering the planting season that downside risk is mitigated in periods of steep price decline or a significant production loss.
What other farm bill needs were shared?
The Senate panel was urged to help secure appropriate funding to write a farm bill that recognizes the current and future needs of all industry segments. For example, Reed pointed to today’s 1) higher input prices which have resulted in significant increases in producers’ production costs and 2) supply chain/logistical challenges that have wreaked havoc on producers’ ability to get necessary inputs/equipment parts and created major disruptions and additional costs for merchandisers in delivering cotton to customers.
Reed said the Committee should consider including either a permanent disaster assistance program in the upcoming farm bill or seek policy options to help further minimize the deductible producers are left to cover under most existing, affordable crop insurance products. He also called for: 1) a strong Conservation Title that delivers robust funding for working lands programs; 2) more funding for the Market Access Program and the Foreign Market Development Program; and 3) continued support for the U.S. textile sector which has become more competitive under the 2008 farm law’s Economic Adjustment Assistance for Textile Mills. That farm bill initiative has allowed textile manufacturers to make crucial investments in new equipment and technology.