WASHINGTON, DC – Recent action taken by members of Texas’ Congressional delegation drew the full support of the National Cotton Council.
The delegation registered its opposition to the controversial Grassley-Dorgan amendment that would limit benefits to farmers as the House and Senate conference committee began debating new farm legislation.
"We urge you and your fellow conferees to eliminate the Grassley-Dorgan payment limitations amendment," the Texas Senate delegation stated in a letter to Senate conferees Tom Harkin (D-IA), chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, and the committee’s ranking member, Richard Lugar (R-IN).
Signed by Senators Blanche Lincoln (D-AR), Tim Hutchison (R-AR), Jeff Sessions (R-AL), Richard Shelby (R-AL), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), John Breaux (D-LA) Bill Nelson (D-FL), Bob Graham (D-FL), Max Cleland (D-GA), Zell Miller (D-GA), Christopher Bond (R-MO), Jean Carnhan (D-MO), Ernest Hollings (D-SC), Strom Thurmond (R-SC) and Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX), the letter stated that the Grassley-Dorgan amendment would hit hardest the growers of highly capital-intensive crops such as rice, cotton and peanuts.
Introduced by Senators Charles Grassley of Iowa and Byron Dorgan of North Dakota, the amendment, part of the Senate-passed farm bill, would cripple the marketing loan program - the cornerstone of farm policy for two decades - "by rendering generic commodity certificates useless and undermining the safety net for all crops."
The letter noted that one reason every major commodity organization opposed the Grassley-Dorgan amendment was that farmers would be discouraged from planting any land in rice, cotton or peanuts, instead dedicating that land to lower value crops such as corn, soybeans or specialty crops. That, the letter stated, would result in a price plummet for these crops and would mean that corn and wheat farmers would hit their own marketing loan limitations that much sooner.
The conference committee is racing to complete its report before Congress adjourns March 23 for the Easter recess.