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|USDA Estimates 13.95 Million Acres for 2004|
In its June acreage report, USDA estimated ’04 US cotton plantings at 13.95 million acres, up 3.5% from the previous year. Upland planted area is estimated to have increased 3.0% to 13.70 million acres and estimated extra long staple (ELS) area is up 38.3% to 247,000 acres.
The Southeast is expected to see a modest decline from last year’s number with North Carolina and Virginia accounting for the drop. According to the report, the 11.1% drop in North Carolina cotton acreage reflects a shift into corn. Cotton plantings in the Mid-South are 1.5% below the ’03 level with Tennessee showing the only increase in the region. Declines in Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi are due to shifts from cotton and into soybeans and rice.
The Southwest is the primary growth region in ’04. With an increase of 33.3%, Kansas continues its impressive expansion in acreage. The improved moisture situation in Texas is contributing to an increase of 400,000 acres above last year’s number. Upland acreage in the West is expected to expand by 2.7%.
Stronger prices are driving the increased ELS acreage in California. With 220,000, California ELS acreage would be the second highest, after ’99 and ’01 levels of 240,000.
|Two Named to Key FSA Posts|
USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) Administrator James Little announced 2 FSA appointments - Steve Connelly as assistant deputy administrator for Farm Programs and Tom Hofeller as associate administrator for Operations and Management.
Connelly, who most recently served as special assistant to the Maryland Secretary of Agriculture, will assist John Johnson, deputy administrator of Farm Programs.
Hofeller, who has held various Congressional staff positions and served ascomputer system director for the Republican National Committee, most recently has served as director of the Office of Business and Program Integration for FSA. He has been involved in the Agency’s e-Government initiative.
|Cotton Producers Speak Out on Agriculture’s Importance|
As part of a NCC effort to raise the public’s awareness about agriculture, video and print news releases are being distributed to media outlets in Georgia, Tennessee, Texas and Kansas. The releases focus on the importance of agriculture to the rural economies of the producers interviewed.
Among those producers interviewed were Mike Newberry of Arlington, GA; John Lindamood of Tiptonville, TN; Ronnie Hopper of Petersburg, TX; and Jerry Stuckey and Tom Lahey, both of Moscow, KS.
The releases also include comments from the producers and individuals at a number of area businesses about the impact of farm programs in stabilizing agriculture and agriculture’s role in supporting those businesses.
|Congressional Contingent Asks for ESA Rules Finalization|
In a letter sponsored by Reps. Lucas (R-OK) and Holden (D-PA), 92 Congressional members requested the finalization of the counterpart regulations for the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The letter, sent on June 25 to Secretary Norton at the Department of Interior, expressed “strong support” for the Fish & Wildlife Services’ (FWS) efforts to “modernize the pesticide consultation process to better protect endangered species,” while “ensuring economic food and fiber production and protection from pests, diseases and weeds.”
The issue with ESA and the EPA came to a head in ’03 when a 9th Circuit judge handed down a decision in Washington Toxics v. EPA that placed restrictions on pesticide use around certain endangered species habitat. The case, which is one of more than a dozen such cases currently pending in the United States, cites that the EPA has not been in compliance with the ESA when registering pesticides.
The counterpart regulations are designed to bring the EPA into compliance, and allow for efficient registration of crop protection products. The draft counterpart regulations were issued in late January ’04, and received more than 70,000 comments from environmental and agricultural interests. The NCC worked with the American Farm Bureau Federation, CropLife America, regional cotton interest organizations and others to help make a strong showing in support of the regulations. An estimated 35,000 of these comments were submitted on behalf of agriculture.
Lobbyists representing the Pesticide Policy Coalition’s (PPC) government affairs committee, which the NCC chairs, worked to garner support for this effort. Of the 92 Congressional members who signed the letter, 58 were from the 17 cotton-producing states.
|EPA Asked to Respond on Aerial Spraying Permit Case|
A letter was sent to EPA Administrator Mike Leavitt by the Pesticide Policy Coalition (PPC) encouraging the agency to respond formally to Gem County, Idaho’s request for a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit for mosquito control spraying.
A ’02 court case, League of Wilderness Defenders v. Forsgren, charged the aerial application of pesticides over streams and rivers required a permit under the Clean Water Act normally reserved for direct pollutants into US waters. In the Gem County case, a local organic grower is threatening to sue if the county does not obtain the necessary permits, but interim guidance issued in summer of ’03 by the EPA outlines that such activities do not require these permits. The EPA thus far has yet to either issue or decline to issue the requested permits, thereby leaving the issue of whether or not permits are necessary to the courts’ decisions.
The NCC is working closely with the PPC to insure that growers are not subject to such regulation.
|Australian FTA Sees Mock Markup|
The Australian Free Trade Agreement (FTA) movedthrough “mock markup” in the House Ways and Means Committee, but a glitch over beef imports surfaced during Senate Finance Committee consideration. The House Ways and Means Committee approved draft implementing legislation without amendment. However, during the Senate Finance Committee “mock markup” an amendment sponsored by Sen. Conrad (D-ND) was adopted which would make it more difficult for the Administration to waive a mechanism in the FTA designed to protect the US beef industry from import surges. Finance Committee Chairman Grassley (R-IA) argued the amendment would force renegotiation of the FTA, but he failed to convince members to remove the Conrad amendment.
The mock markups are designed to be advisory steps. Both committees will conduct formal markups in July when the White House sends the final version of implementing legislation to Capitol Hill. The White House has indicated the Conrad amendment will not be in the version sent to the Hill.
|Homeland Security Coordinates Ag Infrastructure Protection|
The NCC has been participating in a series of meetings hosted by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the USDA concerning the protection of the agricultural infrastructure. The administration has identified agriculture among 13 critical components of the US economy, and has asked DHS to coordinate with the private sector to develop vulnerability assessments and contingency plans for the detection, prevention and recovery from terrorist attacks against American agricultural interests.
At the most recent meeting, agricultural stakeholders ranging from commodity groups to food processors organized themselves into sub-groups for better coordination with DHS in the event of such an attack. Concerns to growers include infestation of noxious plants or diseases to crops and the theft of crop protection products or fertilizer for use in weapons manufacturing and explosives. Processing industries such as oilseed crushers are interested due to chemicals utilized in the extraction procedure, and the protection of infrastructure and products used in food processing.
The NCC will continue to work with this group to coordinate with DHS, USDA and other stakeholders to maintain a proper information flow between agriculture and government. The NCC also is monitoring developments for regulatory requirements to agricultural interests that may be unnecessary or unmanageable.
|Far West Producers Touring West Texas|
Far West cotton producers will visit West Texas on July 10-14 in the initial leg of the ’04 NCC/FMC Producer Information Exchange (PIE) program.
The California, Arizona and New Mexico producers will begin their tour with an orientation to Texas High Plains agriculture from the Plains Cotton Growers Association, and on the July 11th will tour Mimms Farms in Acuff. On the July 12th, the group will tour the Texas Agricultural Experiment Station in Lubbock for a presentation on the Texas Cotton Improvement Program. They also will tour the American Cotton Growers Denim Mill in Littlefield and visit the United Cotton Growers Cooperative and United Cotton Growers Cooperative Gin in nearby HockleyCounty. On the July 13th, the group will tour PYCO Industries in Lubbock for a presentation on cottonseed and its uses and visit Farmers Cooperative Compress and the Union Coop Gin. They also will get presentations on the Lamesa Cotton Growers, the Ag Cares program and an update on US cotton industry issues from NCC Chairman Woody Anderson. The next day the group will tour Rancher’s Lamb in San Angelo, TX, see drip irrigation at Eco Drip in Garden City and tour area cotton farms.
Supported by a grant to The Cotton Foundation from FMC Corp., the PIE aims to help producers become more efficient by speeding up their adoption of proven technology and innovative farming methods. After the ’04 tours, the program will have exposed more than 700 US cotton producers to innovative production practices and technology in regions different than their own.
|Sales, Shipments Maintain Strong Pace|
Net export sales for the week ending June 24 were 141,130 bales (480-lb.), resulting in total ’03-04 sales of roughly 14.5 million bales. Total sales at the same point in the ’02-03 marketing year were about 12.8 million bales. Total new crop (’04-05) sales are 2.2 million bales (480-lb.). Shipments for the week were 253,760 bales, bringing total exports to date to 12.3 million bales, ahead of the 10.5 million bales at the comparable point in the ’02-03 marketing year.
|Prices Effective July 2-8, 2004|