|Payment Limit Amendment Withdrawn|
During consideration of the FY08 Budget Resolution, Sen. Grassley (R-IA) withdrew a payment limitation amendment he had offered the day before.
The amendment, if approved, would have put the Senate on record as supporting a cap on benefits of $250,000 and that the resulting reductions in commodity program outlays – estimated by Congressional Budget Office (CBO) to be $1.1 billion over 10 years – be redirected to renewable energy, conservation and nutrition programs. While the amendment and the Budget Resolution are nonbinding, the clear intent was to pressure the Agriculture Committee during consideration of the ’07 farm bill.
Sens. Lincoln (D-AR) and Chambliss (R-GA) worked with their respective colleagues – as they did in ’05 – to urge rejection of the amendment. Prior to the scheduled vote, Sen. Grassley announced he was withdrawing the amendment.
Once again, the work by Sens. Lincoln and Chambliss was critically important in ensuring the Budget Resolution does not include specific instructions to the Agriculture Committee to reduce limitations on benefits. In ’05, during consideration of the reconciliation, they convinced 51 colleagues to join them in rejecting a payment limitation amendment.The issue will be debated again during consideration of the farm bill. In addition to the work done by Sens. Lincoln and Chambliss, strong statements in opposition to the amendment were delivered by Sens. Isakson (R-GA) and Kyl (R-AZ) during the debate.
|Budget Panel Approves Blueprint|
The House Budget Committee approved a FY08 budget blueprint on a 22-17 party line vote. The resolution includes a reserve fund for agriculture which allows the Agriculture Committee to add up to $20 billion to the CBO baseline when writing new farm law provided the funds are offset by reductions in other federal spending.The House is expected to take up the Budget Resolution during the week of March 26.
|House to Vote on Supplemental|
The House was scheduled to vote on March 23 on a $124 billion supplemental appropriations measure (HR 1591), including $22 billion in “emergency” spending for domestic programs and a date certain for redeployment of US troops in Iraq. The President has announced he would veto the measure as currently written.
In addition to more than $100 billion in funding for the war, the measure contains several agriculture related provisions including a disaster assistance program for ’05 or ’06 crop losses; reauthorization of the Milk Income Loss Compensation (MILC) program; a one-year extension of peanut storage payments to cover ’07; and other provisions. The measure also includes an increase of $2.10 in the minimum wage.
The Senate Appropriations Committee approved its version of a $121.6 billion supplemental which provides funds for Iraq and Afghanistan and calls for a phased troop withdrawal over the next year. The measure contains more than $20 billion in “emergency” domestic program spending including $4.2 billion for disaster assistance for crop and livestock losses during ’05, ’06 and ’07 to be limited to one year selected by the producer.The MILC program would be extended for one month in order to be included in the budget baseline available to the Agriculture Committee when writing the ’07 farm bill. The provision in the House supplemental is written in a way that would extend the program through ’08, but would not add to the baseline.
|USDA Acreage Estimates to be Released|
USDA’s first survey-based estimate of ’07 acreage for cotton and other crops will be released at 8:30 am EST on Friday, March 30. The Prospective Plantings report reflects acreage intentions based on surveys conducted primarily during the first two weeks of March. The report will include state-level estimates for the all major crops.
With the strong increase in grain and oilseed prices, industry analysts are anticipating a significant shift away from cotton and into corn and soybeans. The NCC’s acreage survey, conducted in late December and early January, reported cotton acreage intentions at 13.2 million acres – a 14% decline from last year’s level. Since the time of the NCC survey, corn and soybean prices have increased further, and the actual cotton acreage decline may be even greater.The full USDA-NASS report will be posted on the NASS web site at http://www.nass.usda.gov/index.asp. USDA’s state-level estimates for upland and ELS cotton also will be posted on the NCC web site, www.cotton.org.
|Immigration Bill Offered in House|
An immigration measure was introduced by Reps. Gutierrez (D-IL) and Flake (R-AZ) with eight co-sponsors.
The legislation would combine border security and enforcement with a guest worker program and a “path to citizenship” for illegal immigrants who were in the United States prior to June 1, ’06.Immigrants would have to leave the country and re-enter to qualify for citizenship and would have to pass a criminal background check, pay all back taxes and a $2,000 fine; and meet English proficiency requirements. The legislation caps the guest worker program at 400,000.
|FSA Extends DCP Sign-up|
In a March 22 notice, USDA FSA announced that the deadline for enrollment in the ’07 Direct and Counter-Cyclical Program (DCP) will be extended from June 1 until Aug. 3. The enrollment period began on Oct. 1, ’06. For producers who have not enrolled in the ’07 program, they must do so before the Aug. 3 deadline.
FSA cited issues related to performance of the web-based system and increased workload as reasons for the extension. For farms that do not meet the Aug. 3 deadline, there will be a late enrollment period through Sept. 30. However, producers will be assessed a $100 late fee on farms enrolled between Aug. 3 and Sept. 30.
|Sales, Shipments Robust|
Net export sales for the week ending March 15 were 323,700 bales (480-lb). This brings total ’06-07 sales to slightly more than 9.0 million. Total sales at the same point in the ’05-06 marketing year were approximately 14.5 million bales. Total new crop (’07-08) sales are 476,200 bales.
Shipments for the week were 248,600 bales, bringing total exports to date to 5.4 million bales, compared with the 8.7 million bales at the comparable point in the ’05-06 marketing year.
|Special Gin Course Offered|
A special course for gin owners, managers and gin office employees is being offered at each of the ’07 Ginner Schools: Southwest Ginners School, Lubbock, TX - April 9-11; Western Ginners School, Las Cruces, NM - May 15-17; and Stoneville Ginners School, Stoneville, MS - June 12-14. Registration information for the schools can be completed online at http://ncga.cotton.org.
National Cotton Ginners Assoc. (NCGA) Executive Vice President Harrison Ashley said the special one-day course will feature an overview of the basic ginning process and include updates on important regulatory issues such as wage and hour, immigration, and air quality.
These courses are being offered along with continuing education courses and the core Level I, II and III curriculum. In addition, a first aid class for ginners taking Levels I, II or III will be offered at the Southwest school only -- Thursday morning, April 12, at the Lubbock Civic Center, site of the Texas Cotton Ginners Association Gin Show.School cooperators include NCGA, USDA-ARS, NCGA member associations, NCC, Cotton Incorporated, gin machinery/equipment manufacturers/suppliers, Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service, and select land grant universities.
|Leadership Class Completes NYC Visit|
The ’06-07 Cotton Leadership Class completed a session that included visits to Cotton Incorporated's New York City office, the New York Board of Trade (NYBOT) and to DuPont Crop Protection’s Chesapeake Farms in Chestertown, MD, and their Stine Research Facility in Wilmington, DE.
At Cotton Incorporated, the class was briefed on that organization's market research, promotion and marketing efforts, and the NYBOT staff provided an orientation and tour of that facility in the World Financial Center. At Chesapeake Farms, the group received an orientation about advanced agricultural practices and wildlife management techniques.The Cotton Leadership Program is geared to individuals who have the potential and desire to become leaders for the US cotton industry. Participants receive developmental training during five week-long sessions across the Cotton Belt. An announcement will be forthcoming regarding the nomination/application procedure and deadlines for the '07-08 Cotton Leadership Class. The Cotton Leadership Program is supported by a grant to The Cotton Foundation from DuPont Crop Protection.
|Market Development Programs Positive|
In testimony to the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee, US Agricultural Export Development Council Chairman Tim Hamilton presented study results revealing that USDA’s export market development program funding - of which CCI is one of the largest recipients - positively affects US agricultural trade, the farm economy and the larger US macro economy.
The impact study, which was commissioned by the Foreign Agricultural Service of USDA and carried out by Global Insight, Inc., the world’s largest economic analysis and forecasting firm, concluded that Market Access Program (MAP) and Foreign Market Development Program (FMD) funding, in tandem with industry funding, increases US agricultural exports and boosts the US share of world agricultural trade.
The study showed that MAP and FMD funding plays a critical role in attracting industry funding to carry out overseas market development activities. Industry funds have increased 222% in the last decade, thanks in part to USDA’s allocation formulas that stress the importance of industry contributions to receive government funds.
For every additional dollar spent on market development, $25 dollars in additional exports result within three to seven years, the study found.
The study also concluded that the elimination of market development programs would reduce US agricultural exports by $8.5 billion, as compared to continuing market development funding at current levels. Also, for every dollar saved by eliminating MAP and FMD, farmers’ incomes would be reduced by $5. Increasing current levels of funding, in contrast, would subsequently increase US agricultural exports by $2.4 billion.Hamilton also emphasized that farm income and agriculture’s economic well-being depend heavily on exports, which account for more than 25% of US producers’ cash receipts, provide jobs for nearly one million Americans, and make a positive contribution to our nation’s overall trade balance.
|Mill Cotton Use Declines|
According to the Commerce Dept., February (four-week month) total cotton consumption in domestic mills was 184.91 million pounds for a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 4.85 million bales (480-lb). Last year’s February annualized rate was 6.23 million bales. The January (four-week month) estimate of domestic mill cotton use was raised by 271,000 pounds to 180.20 million. The revised seasonally adjusted annualized rate of consumption for January is 4.97 million bales. This is lower than last year’s January annualized rate of 6.12 million bales.
Based on Commerce estimates from Aug. 1, ’06 – Feb. 24, ’07, projected total pounds consumed during crop year ’06-07 would be 2.4 billion pounds or 4.91 million bales. USDA’s latest estimate of ’06-07 crop year mill use is 5.0 million bales (480-lb).Preliminary March domestic mill cotton use and revised February figures will be released by Commerce on April 26.
|Prices Effective: March 23-29, '07|