Senator Chambliss Criticizes Washington Post Editorial

Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), ranking Republican member of the Senate agriculture committee, blasted a recent Washington Post editorial regarding domestic cotton production and the global market.

Published: February 27, 2002
Updated: November 9, 2007

CHAMBLISS SETS THE RECORD STRAIGHT ON DOMESTIC COTTON PRODUCTION

Audio of Sen. Chambliss’ floor speech can be found at http://agriculture.senate.gov and video excerpts seen here

November 8, 2007

WASHINGTON - U.S. Senator Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), Ranking Republican Member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, today took to the Senate floor blasting a recent editorial published in The Washington Post regarding domestic cotton production and the global market.  Sen. Chambliss noted that the author made numerous false claims and inaccurate statements in attempting to characterize the U.S. cotton program.  The Senate is currently debating the bipartisan Food and Energy Security Act of 2007, which Sen. Chambliss coauthored.
 
“I want to set the record straight relative to one particular issue in the editorial that has been talked about over the last several years that is simply wrong,” said Sen. Chambliss.  “This editorial takes on the cotton program in the 2002 farm bill and says that this program has a very negative effect on cotton farmers in the West African countries of Benin, Burkina Faso, Chad, and Mali.”
 
Senator Chambliss questioned the editorial’s claim that U.S. cotton acreage has increased in response to U.S. subsidies at the expense of West Africa:  data clearly demonstrates that U.S. cotton acreage has decreased 39 percent from 2002 to 2007, while cotton acreage in both China and Brazil has increased at least 50 percent over the same time period.  During this same time period, China, India and Brazil have each experienced tremendous increases in cotton production.  While the editorial cited economic studies by organizations with an anti-cotton agenda, Senator Chambliss pointed out that several independent analyses show minimal price impacts attributable to the U.S. cotton program on world prices. 
 
Sen. Chambliss expressed frustration at the author’s misunderstanding of the U.S. cotton program and the author’s failure to communicate that the farm bill pending in the Senate provides reforms to the cotton program. 
 
“We provided significant reforms in the cotton program to reduce amber box government expenditures,” said Sen. Chambliss.  “These reforms, including the administration of the marketing loan program, are intended to improve the efficiency of the program.  The target price for cotton is the only target price in the Senate bill that is reduced, thereby saving $150 million over ten years.  We also included a significantly reformed payment limitation provisions, resulting in $456 million in savings.”
 
The editorial claims that the U.S. cotton program only benefits 20,000 American cotton producers.  The economic benefits and impact of the U.S. cotton industry are not just received by cotton producers, but also processors and ginners, independent merchants and cooperative merchandisers, warehousers, cottonseed distributors and processors, textile mills, and others.  Farms and businesses directly involved in the production, distribution and processing of cotton employ more that 230,000 people and result in direct business revenues of more that $27 billion.  Throughout the broader economy, direct and indirect employment surpasses 520,000 workers with economic activity in excess of $120 billion.
 
“What has the U.S. actually done from the standpoint of impacting the West African countries?  Well, here’s exactly what we’ve done, another fact that’s conveniently left out of this article:  the U.S. has engaged in a number of outreach activities with the West African countries since 2004 which are aimed at helping raise their agricultural productivity, spur economic growth, and alleviate hunger and poverty.  These efforts have been coordinated by the U.S. cotton industry, with US-AID, the Trade Representative’s office, and the Millennium Challenge.  I do not want that to go unnoticed,” Sen. Chambliss said.
 
More information is available on Senator Chambliss' web site.