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|SURE Rule Published|
USDA published the final rule implementing the new Supplemental Revenue Assistance Payments program (SURE), which was authorized in the ’08 farm law. Producers are encouraged to visit their local USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) office beginning on Jan. 4, ’10, to participate in the program if they suffered crop production losses during the ’08 crop year. The application period for ’08 crop losses extends through March 1, ’10. It is important to note that the current application period is for ’08 losses only. The sign-up for ’09 crop year losses will begin on a date to be announced.
SURE provides crop disaster assistance payments to eligible producers on farms that have incurred crop production or crop quality losses. The program takes into consideration crop losses on all crops grown by a producer nationwide. SURE provides assistance in an amount equal to 60% of the difference between the SURE farm guarantee and total farm revenue. The farm guarantee is based on the amount of crop insurance and Non-Insured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP) coverage on the farm. Total farm revenue takes into account the actual value of production on the farm as well as insurance indemnities and certain farm program payments.
To be eligible for SURE, producers must have suffered at least a 10% production loss on a crop of economic significance. SURE eligibility also is subject to producers meeting an Adjusted Gross Income means test, and payments under SURE are subject to payment limits. In addition, producers must meet the risk management purchase requirement by either obtaining a policy or plan of insurance, under the Federal Crop Insurance Act or NAP coverage, for all economically significant crops. For ’08 crops, producers had the opportunity to obtain a waiver of the risk management purchase requirement through a buy-in provision.
In addition to meeting the risk management purchase requirement, a producer must have a farming interest physically located in a county that was declared a primary disaster county or contiguous county under a Secretarial Disaster Designation. Regardless of a Secretarial Disaster Designation, individual producers also may be eligible for SURE if the actual production on the farm is less than 50% of the normal production on the farm due to a natural disaster. For SURE, a farm is defined as all crops in which a producer had an interest nationwide.
Additional details on the SURE program can be found in the Disaster Assistance Programs section of the FSA website http://www.fsa.usda.gov.
|Acreage Responses Needed|
The NCC’s annual survey of ’10 planting intentions recently was distributed to upland and ELS cotton producers across the Cotton Belt. The survey, which is conducted each year to aid with industry planning and policy deliberations, provides the basis for the economic outlook presented to delegates during the NCC Annual Meeting in early February. Survey results initially will be presented to members of the American Cotton Producers on Feb. 5.
Producers are encouraged to respond by the Jan. 19 deadline. The current survey was distributed through a combination of regular mail and email with the intent of reaching all cotton farms across the Belt. Growers who did not receive a survey may contact the NCC via email at firstname.lastname@example.org for survey instructions.
|Cotton’s Week Email Exclusive|
Beginning on Jan. 8, ’10, the Cotton’s Week newsletter will be distributed to NCC members by email only and no longer by regular mail. NCC members who have not yet provided the NCC with their email addresses should send them to email@example.com as soon as possible.
The newsletter will continue to be posted on the NCC’s website, www.cotton.org, under the News and Events section, but will require a password. Passwords will be provided upon completion of the short form located at http://www.cotton.org/register/request-password.cfm.
|House Passes Job Creation Bill|
The House approved, on a 217-212 vote, job creation legislation that will cost about $150 billion and be paid for partially by Troubled Asset Relief Program funds.
The "Jobs for Main Street" legislation (H.R. 2847) aims to create jobs by rebuilding transportation infrastructure, keeping public service workers employed and increasing credit for small businesses. The bill also includes six-month extensions of the emergency unemployment insurance benefits program and subsidies to help those who have lost their jobs continue their health insurance. COBRA requires employers to allow former employees to pay premiums to continue their health insurance benefits for up to 18 months.
The bill would provide: 1) $27.5 billion for highway infrastructure investments and $8.4 billion for public transportation investments; 2) $26.7 billion to stabilize public service jobs such as teachers, firefighters and police officers; and 3) $354 million to allow the Small Business Administration to continue two temporary loan guarantee authorities through the end of FY10 to make loans “more attractive to borrowers and lenders and to free up capital,” according to a House Appropriations Committee summary.
|Rail Bill Clears Senate Panel|
The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee passed the Surface Transportation Board (STB) reauthorization bill (S. 2889).
The bill, which updates federal rail policy to reflect industry changes, would make the STB a fully independent agency, removing it completely from the jurisdiction of the Transportation Dept., where it currently is housed. The board would be allowed to investigate rail practices on its own initiative, a reversal from current practices, which allow investigations only after a formal complaint.
The bill also would expand the size of the board from three to five members; direct the STB Office of Public Assistance, Governmental Affairs, and Compliance to assist shippers with complaints about railroad service and rates; and create a “Rail Customer Advocate” to help rail customers resolve service and rate issues.
The bill also would allow certain rate and practice disputes to be resolved by an arbitrator, and it would expand access to expedited review for complaints over rates charged by large railroad companies. Regarding service, the STB would require railroads to publish reasonable common carrier service expectation ranges, including cycle times, transit times and switching frequency.
The NCC joined other agricultural organizations in signing a letter to the bill’s cosponsors thanking them for their leadership on this issue and pledging to continue working to see that rail reform legislation passes both the Senate and the House.
|Carbofuran Review Sought|
FMC Corp. and several ag groups requested a federal court to stay and review EPA’s final rule revoking all food tolerances for carbofuran (Furadan).
EPA previously denied a request for a scientific review of their decision to move forward with the revocation of all tolerances for carbofuran. The petition claims that EPA violated the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA) and its own regulations when it denied that request (74 Fed. Reg. 59,608).
The petitioners believe there are “genuine and substantial issues of fact” sufficient to require a hearing and a “reasonable possibility” that a neutral fact-finder would side with the petitioners. The National Sunflower Assoc. and the National Potato Council joined FMC and the National Corn Growers Assoc. in filing the petition in the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
The FFDCA and EPA regulations “both plainly require EPA to initiate a hearing before an administrative law judge … to resolve material disputed factual issues raised by any person's objections to an agency order revoking the ‘tolerances' (legal limits) for pesticide residues in food and water,” the petition said.
EPA said the objections and hearing requests were “irrelevant, and thus immaterial” to its decision to revoke the tolerances. The agency claims the tolerance revocations are based on health risks under FFDCA and that the petitioners’ claims are safety issues regulated under FIFRA.
More information on revoking carbofuran tolerances/industry petitions for a hearing is at http://www.epa.gov/pesticides/reregistration/carbofuran/carbofuran_noic.htm.
|Edwards To Retire From OPP|
Dr. Debbie Edwards, director of EPA’s Office of Pesticide Programs (OPP), announced she will retire from EPA on Jan. 14, ’10. According to an internal letter, she states that she has “decided to retire from Federal Service to pursue other interests and to spend more time in
Dr. Edwards has been with EPA for 22 years, most of which she has served in senior level supervisory or management positions within OPP. Prior to her selection as director of OPP in ’07, she served as the director of the Special Review and Re-Registration Division, director of the Registration Division, and associate director of both the Antimicrobials Division and Health Effects Division. Dr. Edwards’ leadership was instrumental to the Agency's completion of the 10-year Food Quality Protection Act deadline.
Dr. Edwards has a B.S. in Botany from
|Sales Hit Marketing Year High|
Net export sales for the week ending Dec. 24 were 385,900 bales (480-lb) – a marketing-year high. This brings total ’09-10 sales to about 6.3 million bales. Total sales at the same point in the ’08-09 marketing year were about 8.0 million bales. Total new crop (’10-11) sales are 167,800 bales.
Shipments for the week were 171,400 bales, bringing total exports to date to 3.5 million bales, compared with the 5.0 million bales at the comparable point in the ’08-09 marketing year.
|NCC Annual Meeting Deadlines Near|
Jan. 11 is the deadline for making hotel reservations for the NCC’s ’10 Annual Meeting at the Peabody Hotel in Memphis, TN, on Feb. 4-8. Rooms may be reserved by calling 1-800-732-2639 (Press 2).
The Feb. 8 general session will feature a report from NCC Chairman Jay Hardwick, along with a special video presentation summarizing NCC activities during ’09. Among other important convention sessions will be the Feb. 5 American Cotton Producers meeting, where the NCC’s planting intentions survey results will be announced. On Feb. 6, the delegates will hear the NCC’s Economic Outlook and a report from Cotton Incorporated President J. Berrye Worsham. The National Cotton Ginners Assoc. also will hold its annual meeting that afternoon.
The Saturday luncheon will feature Charlie Cook, the publisher of The Cook Political Report.
|US Mill Cotton Use Slips|
According to the Commerce Dept., November (four-week month) total cotton consumption in domestic mills was 132.3 million pounds for a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 3.72 million bales (480-lb). Last year’s November annualized rate was estimated at 4.03 million bales.
The October (four-week month) estimate of domestic mill use of cotton was unchanged at 130.0 million. The revised seasonally adjusted annualized rate of consumption for October is 3.36 million bales. This is lower than last year’s October annualized rate of 4.31 million bales.
Preliminary December domestic mill use of cotton and revised November figures will be released by Commerce on Jan. 28.
|Prices Effective Jan. 1-7, '10***|