The NCC continues to work with U.S. cotton’s supporters in the House and Senate to achieve the industry’s policy priorities in farm legislation.
The National Cotton Council (NCC) believes that House-passed farm legislation more fully addresses the U.S. cotton and textile industries’ policy needs, and the NCC has concerns with some provisions in the Senate-passed farm bill.
What’s favorable in the House farm bill?
• Among key provisions is one that continues the Agriculture Risk Coverage/Price Loss Coverage (ARC/PLC) with current reference prices – $0.367/lb for seed cotton. The upland cotton marketing loan rate is based on a two-year moving average of the adjusted world price, not to exceed $0.52/lb or less than $0.45/lb, and the loan rate decline in any given year is limited to 2 percent of the previous year’s loan rate. The extra-long staple (ELS) cotton loan rate is increased to $0.95/lb.
The bill also continues: 1) the current $125,000 per-person payment limit for ARC/PLC payments, and that limit no longer applies to marketing loan benefits; 2) the availability of commodity marketing certificates; 3) a separate payment limit for peanuts; and 4) the current adjusted gross income test of $900,000 per person. The bill broadens the definition of family member for actively engaged determination for program eligibility to include nieces, nephews and first cousins.
Although budget pressures did not allow all industry priorities to be addressed, the House farm bill maintains a viable safety net for cotton producers. The bill also strengthens the Economic Adjustment Assistance Program (EAAP) — which enables our textile industry to reinvest and modernize while maintaining and expanding jobs, especially in rural areas of the Southeast.
Are there serious concerns with the Senate farm bill?
• Among major concerns in the Senate bill are provisions lowering the current adjusted gross income test from $900,000 to $700,000 per person/entity; tightening actively engaged management requirements to only allow one person to qualify by providing management; eliminating mandatory funding for EAAP after July 2021, at which time that program’s funding would be dependent on appropriations; and not adjusting the upland and ELS loan rate provisions.
More House and Senate bill details of the commodity program (Title 1) and other titles — conservation, trade and crop insurance — can be found in NCC-prepared key provision summaries at www.cotton.org/issues/2018/ovfb.cfm (House bill) and www.cotton.org/issues/2018/snsumm.cfm (Senate bill).
What is the next step?
• When this column was submitted for publication, the NCC expected that a House-Senate conference committee would be formed by late July for reconciling differences between the two farm bills. The goal is getting new farm law in place by or before the end of September when current farm law expires.
The NCC, meanwhile, continues its work with U.S. cotton’s supporters in the House and Senate throughout the conference committee process to achieve the industry’s policy priorities in the final legislation. For example, the NCC strongly believes there should be no further restrictions or limitations on commodity program eligibility and that it is critically important to fully restore EAAP funding.
Gary Adams is president/CEO of the National Cotton Council of America. He and other NCC leaders contribute columns on this Cotton Farming magazine page.