|Northeast Arkansas Eradication Options Considered|
Following 5 unsuccessful attempts to pass a referendum in a 330,000-acre area in eastern Craighead and Mississippi Counties in Northeast Arkansas, the Arkansas Boll Weevil Grower board that oversees the state's boll weevil eradication program discussed 4 options and decided to pursue 3 of them.
The "do-nothing" option was rejected because the cost involved to protect against reinfestation in a 15-mile-wide buffer zone around the area would bankrupt the Arkansas program by ’06.
The second option involved introducing a "shell" bill in the current General Assembly session. The Board voted to pursue this approach to keep legislative options open.
The Board also supported the 3rd option, which would allow producers in the Mississippi County and eastern Craighead County affected area to pursue petitions to draw their own lines where they think producers want to proceed with eradication. The producer groups would then work with the Board to establish an area for an eradication program. The board set a 30-day deadline for responses from producers in the area.
Cal McCastlain, a member of the NCC Boll Weevil Action Committee (BWAC) and the grower board’s attorney, explained the 4th option. It requires the Board to ask the State Plant Board to use its existing authority under the Plant Act of ’17 and the Boll Weevil Suppression Eradication Act to conduct eradication programs of nuisance pests and assess costs. The Board voted to submit a written request to the panel immediately. The request is to be forwarded to the State Plant Board at its quarterly meeting March 13.
This area in Arkansas is among 4 in the Cotton Belt not in the eradication program.
|Cochran to Chair Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee|
Sen. Cochran (R-MS) has been selected to chair the powerful new Homeland Security Appropriations subcommittee. The subcommittee is the product of several mergers to keep the total number of subcommittees at 13.
Sen. Cochran, who will remain chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, will have responsibility for funding programs operated by the newly created cabinet-level Department of Homeland Security. He also will retain a seat on the Agriculture Appropriation Subcommittee, which will be chaired by Sen. Bennett (R-UT).
The members of the Agriculture Appropriation Subcommittee are as follows: Bennett; Cochran; Specter (R-PA); Bond (R-MO); McConnell (R-KY); Burns (R-MT); Craig (R-ID); Brownback (R-KS); Kohl (D-WI); Ranking members: Harkin (D-IA); Dorgan (D-ND); Feinstein (D-CA); Durbin (D-IL); Johnson (D-SD); and Landrieu (D-LA).
|USDA Will Extend Farm Program Sign-Up Date for Some Farms|
Farmers who do not meet an April 1 deadline to sign up for program benefits will get an extension if the failure is not their fault, USDA Undersecretary Penn said.
Penn told a House Appropriations subcommittee an estimated 48% of eligible farms already have signed up for the programs authorized by the ’02 farm law.
A "considerable number of farmers" will decide to be plugged into the farm program, he said, without actually having to enroll by using a "default option" of not updating their acreage and yield data. The ’02 law gives growers the choice of using their current data or updating it for changes made in the past few years.
As a result, Penn said, only about 15% of eligible farmers have to go to local USDA offices this month to sign up.
"If there’s any producer who through no fault of their own can't get signed up by April 1, we’ll make sure that we do get them signed up as soon as we possibly can and they won’t suffer any loss in benefits whatsoever," Penn said.
|ICAC, USDA, FAPRI Release Projections for ’03 World Cotton Market|
Recent baseline projections by International Cotton Advisory Committee (ICAC), USDA and the Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute (FAPRI) suggest a tighter world cotton market for the ’03-04 crop year. Relative to last year, additional plantings due to stronger prices and the assumption of average yields lead to a rebound in production.
FAPRI’s is the most conservative estimate, with production of 93.2 million bales, while ICAC has the largest crop at 95.8 million bales. USDA expects a crop of 95 million bales. The projections are substantially higher than last year’s production of 87.6 million bales.
Each of the projections expects consumption to exceed production for ’03-04. USDA is the most optimistic, with consumption of 97.8 million bales, up from 96.8 million. ICAC puts consumption at 97.0 million bales, while FAPRI is the most conservative, with consumption flat relative to ’02-03. In each case, stocks are projected to fall further by the end of ’03-04, giving support to world prices. China remains a dominant force in the world cotton market as each group expects continued Chinese imports.
|Zoellick Says US Could File WTO Ag Case against China|
The US could bring a World Trade Organization (WTO) case against China if it does not do a better job of opening its market to more agricultural imports, US Trade Representative Zoellick said.
"While we’re never eager to go to WTO dispute resolution ... we will not hesitate if need be," Zoellick said in an appearance before the Senate Finance Committee.
US farm groups complain that China’s implementation of tariff-rate import quotas for cotton, wheat, corn, and other commodities has not lived up to its WTO obligations.
Zoellick agreed the quotas "need to be fixed" and said he got a "good response" from Chinese officials when he raised the issue last month during a visit to Beijing. He said top US agricultural negotiator Al Johnson would return to China in the near future to discus how the US would like the quotas changed.
The NCC has asked Ambassador Zoellick to seek consultations on the Tariff Rate Quota issue under WTO rules and to request that a dispute settlement panel be convened if the consultations are unsuccessful.
|CCI Expanding Andean Reach|
Cotton Council International’s COTTON USA Sourcing Program will launch its inaugural Andean Sourcing Fair in Lima, Peru, March 11-13. The fair, hosted in cooperation with Cotton Incorporated, is designed to increase business between US cotton yarn and fabric manufacturers and Andean manufacturers.
US mill attendees include Alice Mills Inc.; Ameritex Yarn, LLC; Arca Knitting, Inc.; Four Leaf Textiles, LLC; Buhler Quality Yarns Corporation; Carolina Cotton Works, Inc.; Cheraw Yarn Mills, Inc.; Frontier Spinning Mills; Harriet & Henderson Yarns, Inc.; National Textiles, LLC; Parkdale Mills, Inc.; R.L. Stowe Mills, Inc.; Ramtex, Inc.; Spectrum Dyed Yarns, Inc.; Swift Spinning Mills, Inc.; TNS Mills, Inc.; and Tuscarora Yarns, Inc.
The mills will interact with more than 50 Andean mills and some US importers. In addition, a variety of speakers will discuss a wide range of political, economic and trade related topics.
|NRCS Unveils Web-Based Registry for Technical Experts|
USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service unveiled a web-based registry of technical experts designed to make it easier for landowners to meet conservation goals by finding service providers online.
NRCS Chief Bruce Knight said the online registry will build a new industry of certified conservation professionals from the private sector, non-profit organizations and public agencies to provide direct technical assistance and deliver conservation services to landowners and others.
TechReg - the technical service provider registry - will allow interested individuals and organizations to apply and request certification on the Internet. Users of TechReg will be able to list their services, credentials, accomplishments and progress. In addition, farmers and ranchers will be able to locate and choose technical service providers authorized to provide services to their area.
The ’02 Farm Bill expanded the availability of technical assistance to landowners by encouraging the use of technical service providers to assist USDA in delivering conservation services.
|First Phase of Sign-Up Dates for Ag Assistance Benefits Announced|
In the first phase of agriculture assistance implementation authorized under the Agricultural Assistance Act of ’03, Agriculture Secretary Veneman announced that sign-up for the expanded Livestock Compensation Program will begin April 1 and the Tobacco Payment Program benefit sign-up will begin March 17.
Veneman said the implementation team is working on details regarding other program benefits and said information about these other sign-up dates will be announced in the near future.
USDA also has launched a web site, located at www.usda.gov, that provides producers one location for details on these programs, questions and answers and allows for comments and suggestions on program implementation as well as other information on USDA agriculture assistance.
The Act authorizes total disaster aid estimated at $3.1 billion for producers suffering from natural disasters and related conditions. USDA will announce sign-up as quickly as possible for other assistance provided by the Act, including the crop disaster program that reimburses producers for qualifying crop losses in either ’01 or ’02 due to damaging weather or related conditions and assistance for the cottonseed industry.
The web site will be updated frequently and will feature current news on programs contained in the Act with links to online program application forms, Federal Register notices and information about regulations. The web site also provides pertinent details on existing Farm Service Agency disaster programs, including emergency low-cost loans for producers in designated disaster areas, the Emergency Conservation Program and the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program.
|Export Sales Climb in Latest Week|
Net export sales for the week ending Feb. 27 reached 331,300 bales (480 lbs.), almost 17% higher than the previous week. Total ’02-03 sales are now slightly over 9.6 million bales compared to 10.8 million at the same point in the ’01-02 marketing year. Total new crop (’03-04) sales are 669,100 bales.
Shipments for the week were 220,600 bales, bringing total exports to date to 5.4 million bales, down from 6.3 million at the comparable point in the ’01-02 marketing year.
|Prices Effective March 7-13, 2003|
Weighted Marketing-Year Average Farm Price