Senate Agriculture Committee Makes Initial Step in Farm Bill Process

The NCC extended its appreciation to the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition & Forestry Committee and Chairwoman Stabenow (D-MI) for producing a farm bill that includes provisions supported by the cotton industry.

April 26, 2012
Contact: Marjory Walker or T. Cotton Nelson
(901) 274-9030

MEMPHIS – The National Cotton Council extended its appreciation to the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition & Forestry Committee and Chairwoman Stabenow (D-MI) for producing a farm bill that includes provisions supported by the cotton industry.

NCC Chairman Chuck Coley said, "The Committee's actions will provide U.S. cotton producers with risk management tools that can provide support when conditions occur that are beyond the growers' control. It also is important to note that the legislation reduces future outlays by more than $23 billion. Critics of farm programs should take note that agriculture has stepped up and made a more than proportionate contribution to deficit reduction, and the example should be followed by others."

"We need some certainty and predictability regarding farm programs," Coley said, "as we look at the long-term investments necessary for maintaining our productivity and economic viability so we can meet this nation's food and fiber demands. The U.S. cotton industry is grateful to Chairwoman Stabenow (D-MI) and Senator Roberts (R-KS) – along with the solid support of Senators Chambliss (R-GA), Cochran (R-MS) and Boozman (R-AR) -- for including the NCC's Stacked Income Protection Plan (STAX) and modified marketing assistance loan program, both designed to meet budget challenges and the resolving of the Brazil WTO case."

Coley said the improvements to crop insurance including making enterprise units with irrigated and non-irrigated provisions permanent and the establishment of a new Supplemental Coverage Option, first introduced by Representative Neugebauer (R-TX), also will provide important risk management options for cotton growers.

The Georgia producer said extension of the extra-long staple cotton loan and competitiveness provisions are important to Western cotton growers. He also pointed to the legislation's inclusion of significant modifications to the upland cotton marketing loan and GSM-102, "that should serve to empower the Administration to be more resolute and determined in future efforts to successfully resolve the long-standing Brazil WTO case and eliminate the threat of retaliation."

He expressed special thanks to Senator Chambliss (R-GA) for his support of the cotton program provisions and for his successful effort to turn back an amendment to terminate the Economic Adjustment Assistance Program, which was authorized in the 2008 farm bill and "is revitalizing the U.S. textile manufacturing sector and adding jobs to the U.S. economy."

The NCC is deeply concerned that the legislation reported by the Committee does not include program choices that meet the needs of rice and peanut growers. Coley said, "the NCC is committed to continue to work with those growers and their organizations to successfully modify the legislation before it reaches the Senate floor vote to ensure that Sunbelt farmers get the much-needed economic benefit of an adequate safety net. While it is important for cotton to have a workable program, many of our growers also rely on peanuts, rice and other crops for their livelihood and need viable cropping options."

Coley said the U.S. cotton industry also has concerns with provisions regarding new lower payment limits, a significantly lower Adjusted Gross Income eligibility test, and changes to the actively engaged in farming provisions used to determine eligibility for revenue and loan programs.

Other positives of the Committee-approved bill that Coley noted were the continuation and streamlining of conservation programs and ongoing support of the Market Access Program and Foreign Market Development Program, two important trade titles that undergird U.S. cotton exports.

"We look forward to working with the Members of the Senate as the legislation moves forward," Coley stated.