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|110th Congress Convenes; Awaits President’s Budget|
Both the House of Representatives and the Senate convened to kick off the 110th Congress. Democrats control the House by 233-201 and the Senate by 51-49. The first order of business for the House was to elect Rep. Pelosi (D-CA) as Speaker of the House. Speaker Pelosi is the first woman to lead either party in either chamber. Rep. Boehner (R-OH) will lead Republicans as the Minority Leader.
On the other side of the Capitol, Sen. Reid (D-NV) officially became Majority Leader of the Senate. Also in the Senate, Sen. McConnell (R-KY) is the new Republican Leader and Sen. Lott (R-MS) is the new Minority Whip.
New members of Congress from the Cotton Belt include: Sens. Clair McCaskill (D-MO), Bob Corker (R-TN), Jim Webb (D-VA) and Reps. Harry Mitchell (D-AZ), Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ), Jerry McNerney (D-CA), Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), Hank Johnson (D-GA), Heath Shuler (D-NC), Mary Fallin (R-OK), Steve Cohen (D-TN), Nick Lampson (D-TX) and Ciro Rodriguez (D-TX).
While full committee assignments have not been finalized in the House, Rep. Peterson (D-MN) will serve as Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee. Rep. Goodlatte (R-VA) will serve as Ranking Member.
Senate Republican Leader McConnell (R-KY) named Sens. Graham (R-SC) and Thune (R-SD) as new members of the Agriculture Committee to serve with returning members Sens. Chambliss (R-GA), ranking member; Lugar (R-IN); Cochran (R-MS); McConnell (R-KY); Roberts (KS); Coleman (R-MN); Crapo (R-ID); and Grassley (R-IA).
Senate Majority Leader Reid (D-NV) named Sen. Harkin (D-IA) as chairman and the following members to serve on the Committee: Sens. Leahy (D-VT), Conrad (D-ND), Baucus (D-MT), Lincoln (D-AR), Stabenow (D-MI), Nelson (D-NE) and Salazar (D-CO), who will be joined by new members Brown (D-OH), Casey (D-PA) and Klobuchar (D-MN).
While leaders in both the House and Senate have their initial agendas they plan to pursue, the normal matters of Congress also will be on the front burner. Congress awaits the President’s Budget which President Bush has said would balance the federal budget in five years. Budget Committees in both Chambers will be working on their respective Budget Resolutions for FY08 and the Appropriations Committees will be finishing a Continuing Resolution to fund government operations for FY07.
The budget process that Congress is beginning is truly the first step in the ’07 reauthorization of the Farm Bill, as the budget will dictate the amount of money that the Agriculture Committees will have as they reauthorize farm programs.
|Acreage Survey Participation Needed|
The NCC’s survey of ’07 cotton acreage intentions is underway. A random sample of producers across the Cotton Belt received survey cards in mid-December. Producers receiving the cards are encouraged to respond, either by returning the card or using the survey web site, before the mid-January deadline.
Survey results will be presented at the annual meeting of the American Cotton Producers on Feb. 2 in Austin, TX. The acreage intentions are incorporated into the NCC’s ’07 economic outlook.
Grower participation in the survey is especially critical to have the best possible indication of intentions.“Given the upcoming farm bill debate, the significant change in relative prices of cotton and competing crops, and high energy costs, the survey is an important tool for determining how growers are adjusting their cropping decisions,” noted Craig Brown, NCC’s vice president, Producer Affairs.
|NCC Discusses Trade Issues with Chief Agriculture Trade Negotiator|
NCC Chairman Allen Helms met Ambassador Dick Crowder, chief agriculture trade Negotiator, on Jan. 4.
Ambassador Crowder has scheduled a series of meetings with commodity and general farm organization representatives to discuss the outlook for renewing the Doha-round trade negotiations. He is advising the agriculture groups that there will be serious efforts to restart the round during the next several months and that there are a number of meetings scheduled during the period that will give negotiators and heads of state an opportunity to renew discussions.
Ambassador Crowder reviewed the various proposals that have been tabled since the Ministerial meeting collapsed last August and he indicated the United States is still waiting for an improved offer on market access from other participants. He reviewed the provisions of the US proposal on market access and domestic supports and was particularly interested in discussing US cotton’s market access objectives.
Chairman Helms commended Ambassador Crowder for maintaining close communications with the private sector and reviewed the industry’s concerns with the text prepared by the chairman of the WTO agriculture negotiating group, particularly the provisions related to cotton’s access to export credit, the inclusion of references to the ELS cotton program and the inclusion of concessions on cotton market access which, according to the text, would be implemented in advance of any new WTO agreement.
Helms also commended USTR and USDA for their timely and effective response to Brazil’s challenge that the termination of Step 2 and certain export credit programs, as well as modifications to the remaining credit programs, is not sufficient to comply with the decision in the WTO case.
Ambassador Crowder indicated he and his colleagues would continue to communicate with the NCC and other organizations on a regular basis.The meeting provided an opportunity for Chairman Helms, on behalf of the industry, to express appreciation to Jason Hafemeister who is leaving USTR at the end of the month. Jason has worked on a number of key negotiations including the China WTO accession agreement and most recently played a key role in the WTO Doha round. Jason’s responsibilities will be taken up by Barbara Chatin, a veteran USTR staffer with extensive experience in agriculture and multilateral trade negotiations.
|America’s Heartland Enters New Season|
America's Heartland is entering season three of bringing real-life stories highlighting the diversity and success of American agriculture into the homes of a largely urban audience.
Audience research conducted with viewers from across the nation indicates that an overwhelming majority of respondents (92-96%) have an "excellent" or "good" overall impression of the program. In each survey, more than 90% believe that America's Heartland represents agriculture accurately, shows a cross-section of the topic and is both informative and entertaining. Two thirds of the respondents have "more favorable" impressions of the sponsors, Monsanto and the American Farm Bureau Federation.
The show is on more than 140 analog stations reaching just over 50% of the nation's households and in digital stations, the number increases to more than 420 stations reaching 84% of the households.
To find the series in your local market, by go to http://www.americasheartland.com, select "Watch Heartland," enter your zip code and a pop-up window will show you the next two to three weeks of programming.
|Recognition Set for High Cotton Winners|
The winners of the ’07 High Cotton awards are Justin Cariker, Dundee, MS, representing the Mid-South; Monty Rast, Cameron, SC, representing the Southeast; Barry Evans, Kress, TX, representing the Southwest; and Gil Replogle, Visalia, CA, representing the Far West. The winners will be honored at a breakfast at the ’07 Beltwide Cotton Conferences in New Orleans, Jan. 11.
The awards are sponsored by Farm Press Publications through a grant to The Cotton Foundation.
“Farm Press began the High Cotton awards 12 years ago to honor the environmental contributions of farmers,” says Greg Frey, publisher of Delta Farm Press, Southeast Farm Press, Southwest Farm Press and Western Farm Press. “We know that farmers are on the front line of environmental stewardship because they and their families work and live on the land. Too often, the public doesn’t see the environmental ethic, that deep concern for leaving the land and water better than they found it that farmers have.”
Each of this year’s winners will receive one of the coveted bronzed Cotton Boll awards. They and their wives will also enjoy an expenses-paid trip to the Beltwide Cotton Conferences, which run from Jan. 9-12 in New Orleans.
|Two Join NCC’s Technical Services|
Two positions in the NCC’s Technical Services have been filled recently.
Dr. William C. "Bill" Robertson has joined NCC’s Technical Services Dept. as manager, Cotton Agronomy, Soils and Physiology. Robertson also will have responsibility for program planning and overall coordination of the annual Beltwide Production Conference. He has served since ’95 as State Extension Agronomist with the U. of Arkansas. A native Texan, he holds degrees in Plant Science and Agronomy from West Texas State and Texas A&M universities.
Dr. C. Donald "Don" Parker will serve as manager, Integrated Pest Management. In addition, he will assist with management of The Cotton Foundation, serving as assistant to the Executive Director. Parker most recently has served as assistant professor, Research/Extension Entomology and Facilities Coordinator of the Brown Loam Branch Experiment Station with Mississippi State U. He is a native of McLaurin, MS, and holds degrees in Agricultural Pest Management and Entomology from Mississippi State U.
|Sales, Shipments Lag|
Net export sales for the week ending Dec. 28, ’06 were 64,400 bales. This brings total ’06-07 sales to slightly more than 6.2 million. Total sales at the same point in the ’05-06 marketing year were approximately 10.5 million bales. Total new crop (’07-08) sales are 255,000 bales.
Shipments for the week were 149,600 bales, bringing total exports to date to 3.1 million bales, compared with the 4.8 million bales at the comparable point in the ‘05-06 marketing year.
|Step 3 Import Quota Announced|
Competitiveness provisions triggered a Step 3 quota based on price conditions for the week ending Jan. 4. When the Friday through Thursday weekly average US northern Europe price exceeds the northern Europe price ("A" Index) by more than 1.25 cents per pound for any four consecutive weeks, a special Step 3 import quota is triggered.The quota is for 97,616 bales (480 lb), equal to one week of upland cotton mill use based on the seasonally adjusted data for the period Aug. ’06 through Oct. ’06, the most recent three months for which data are available. The quota will be established as of Jan. 11 and applies to upland cotton purchased no later than April 10 and entered into the United States no later than July 9. Currently, there is one import quota opened in the total amount of 103,857 bales.
|Prices Effective Jan. 5-11, '07|