MEMPHIS (Special) - The National Cotton Council commended the Senate for its passage of new six-year farm legislation on a 64-35 vote, and urged President Bush to sign the measure promptly.
"This represents a tremendous improvement in the safety net for cotton growers," NCC Chairman Kenneth Hood said. "With the President’s signature, our nation’s cotton growers can regain a measure of optimism as they go about the planting of their 2002 crops. Today’s Senate action is certainly welcomed by all U.S. cotton industry segments from growers to textile manufacturers."
Hood said the farm bill includes many of the principles that were recommended by NCC delegates, including an effective marketing loan and a combination of fixed and counter-cyclical payments.
"The absence of the counter-cyclical program under the FAIR Act left growers badly exposed to low prices on the New York Board of Trade," the Gunnison, MS, producer said.
Specifically, this farm bill includes a 6.67-cent/lb. fixed payment, a 72.4-cent/lb. counter-cyclical target price and a 52-cent/lb. base loan rate. It also makes a fixed decoupled payment on 85 pecent of the enrolled base, and the counter-cyclical payment also is made on 85 percent of the base calculation.
He noted that a NCC analysis found that assuming a cotton grower has program yield equal to actual yield, the least a grower should expected to receive on an "average" pound of cotton is 69.9 cents under this farm bill.
Hood noted that of the 16 Cotton Belt states, there were 10 Republicans and 10 Democrats from the Senate who were bipartisan in their support of this package.
The NCC praised Senator Tom Daschle (D-SD) for pulling the Senate bill together and Senators Zell Miller (D-GA) and Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) for their support of the farm bill process and of cotton’s issues specifically. The NCC also commended Senators Thad Cochran (MS) and Tim Hutchinson (AR) for their leadership on the Republican side of the Senate Agriculture Committee and Senators John Breaux (D-LA) and John Edwards (D-NC) for their work in getting the Step 2 threshold eliminated.