Senate Passes '01 Farm Assistance Package
Senate passed House version of ’01 emergency agricultural assistance package just before taking August recess, sending legislation to President and ensuring $5.5 billion in payments would reach farmers before Oct. 1.
NCC Chairman James Echols praised action, stating that Senate was under pressure to accept House version of bill. "We had hoped the Senate would be able to pass its version of the legislation in a timely manner," said Echols, "but ultimately, the only practical option for getting this much-needed aid to farmers was for the Senate to pass the House bill without amendment."
If Senate had made any changes to House package, entire proposal would have had to go to conference. Because House had already recessed for August break, conference would not have begun until September, leaving little time for Congress to complete work before Sept. 30 budget deadline.
Shortly before Senate action, NCC joined several other commodity organizations on letter to Senate Ag Committee Chairman Harkin (D-IA) urging Senate to complete action on measure before August recess. "With prices of many commodities even lower than ’00, with increased costs for fuel and other inputs and with severe weather in some regions, US farmers need this assistance package more than ever," letter stated. "It is imperative that Congress complete its work right away."
Sen. Harkin and other Ag Committee Democrats had pushed for passage of Senate version of ’01 assistance, which contained $7.4 billion in additional spending for this year’s crops. Additional funding for Senate bill was to be drawn from ’02 fiscal year funds. However, larger package could not gain acceptance in Senate before House adjourned, limiting Sen. Harkin’s options.
Ag Secretary Veneman told reporters that bill "can now be sent to the President, and he will sign it. I think this is a great victory for farmers, and it is especially important because it happened before the August Congressional recess." Veneman said she hopes to get bulk of payments distributed by end of fiscal year, Sept. 30.
Senate action sends House bill to President for signature. As reported in June 29 Cotton’s Week, House bill includes following provisions for ‘01 crop: $4.6 billion in Market Loss Assistance for producers of Agriculture Market Transition Act crops (about 6.7 cents/lb. for cotton); $85 million additional cottonseed assistance for ’00 crop; $424 million for ’00 crop of oilseeds; $54 million for ’00 crop of peanuts; $129 million for tobacco; $17 million for wool and mohair; and $169 million for specialty crops.
Agriculture’s Energy Needs Stressed in White House Meeting
NCC staff participated in meeting with White House officials to stress need for affordable and abundant energy supply. Several agricultural organizations delivered "Ag Energy Users Policy Statement" to Administration.
Statement calls for balanced energy policy that advances agricultural security and energy security objectives by ensuring adequate supplies of energy at reasonable prices. It also noted that US agricultural system accounts for 16% of nation’s energy consumption and that agriculture and rural America are typically at end of energy distribution chain, with fewer supply options and greater vulnerability to disruptions.
Key recommendations include increased exploration and production of natural gas and petroleum, sufficient electricity production and assistance for producers when agricultural producers’ income is unduly affected by energy-related price shocks.
Among meeting participants were NCC, USA Rice Federation, American Soybean Assn., The Fertilizer Institute, National Council of Farmer Cooperatives and American Farm Bureau.
In related note, House passed comprehensive energy legislation. Senate action is expected during fall.
Senate Panel Rejects Bush CPSC Chairman Nominee
Senate Commerce Committee voted 12-11 along party lines against President Bush’s choice, Mary Sheila Gall, to head Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), dealing new Administration its first serious nomination setback.
NCC, textile industry and many other business groups supported Gall’s nomination to be new chairman to replace Ann Brown, who voted against children’s sleepwear flammability standard amendments. Vote was potentially fatal blow for Gall, who had been assailed by Democrats as too pro-business in her 10 years as CPSC member.
Motion that her nomination be sent to Senate floor also was defeated by same party-line vote, and Senate Majority Leader Daschle (D-SD) had said he would not bring matter to floor if committee voted against her. Republicans were considering moves that could force consideration by full Senate, and recess appointment may be possible.
Biotech Committee Seeks More Funds for Breeding, Germplasm Collection
USDA’s Advisory Committee on Agricultural Biotechnology (ACAB) met for second time under new Administration. ACAB was formed under Ag Secretary Glickman and has been tied to agenda set under previous Administration.
Consensus document regarding public plant breeding programs was completed at meeting. Basically, ACAB is recommending to Ag Secretary Veneman that she double funds for public plant breeding and germplasm collections. Discussions became less agreeable among ag and environmental members when USDA budget priorities for biotech and gene flow issues were addressed.
USDA is planning to renew ACAB charter and to accept nominations for memberships. Texas producer Jimmy Dodson, chairman of NCC Environmental Task Force, is active ACAB member and will be re-nominated to continue his work with this committee.
USDA to Release Objective Production Estimates Aug. 10
USDA will release its first objective state-by-state yield estimates for ’01-02 crop on Aug. 10. Objective cotton yield estimates will be developed using boll counts and boll weights obtained by USDA enumerators from selected fields within states of Arkansas, California, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina and Texas. In remaining states, yield estimates will be based on grower surveys. In its July crop report, USDA projected ’01-02 US cotton crop of 19.20 million bales (480 lb.).
NCC Suggests Agriculture Exclusion, Voluntary Approach on Ergonomics
Labor Department (DOL) held "public forums" in Washington, DC, Chicago and Palo Alto, CA, on possible approaches to addressing "ergonomic hazards in the workplace." NCC participated by submitting written comments that reiterated issues NCC addressed during earlier rulemaking.
In summary, NCC statement said Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) should recognize unique aspects of agriculture and seasonal and temporary jobs and exclude them from any approach that OSHA takes to address ergonomic injuries. NCC also told OSHA that most useful approach would be voluntary "best practices" approach.
In March, Congress, acting under Congressional Review Act (CRA), voted to overturn OSHA ergonomics rule, which was finalized in November ’00. With continued pressure from Congressional Democrats, labor unions and others, however, controversial subject is not going away. Labor Secretary Chao has assured Senate subcommittee that DOL will decide by September how best to protect workers from ergonomic injuries. Chao already has held about 45 stakeholder meetings with labor, industry and other groups.
Questions addressed at forums concern what is ergonomics injury; how to determine if injury is work-related; and what are most useful and cost-effective types of government involvement to address workplace ergonomics injuries. Options to avoid musculoskeletal disorders range from wholly new rulemaking to voluntary guidelines or "best practices." CRA provides that if DOL chooses to pursue another regulation, it cannot be substantially same as previous one.
NCPA Board Reorganizes Association
Reorganization of National Cottonseed Products Assn. (NCPA), to more efficiently meet needs and objectives of members, was announced by NCPA Board. As part of reorganization, effective Aug. 1, staff will consist of 2 full-time employees who will continue to provide same level of professional service members have come to expect.
Board announced appointment of Ben Morgan, who previously served as NCPA’s Secretary-Treasurer, as Executive Vice President. Morgan received BS in Agricultural Economics from Texas A&M U. and MBA in Finance from U. of Memphis. Sandi Stine was named Treasurer and will continue to provide financial services and coordinate administrative matters.
NCPA will continue to administer NCPA Trading Rules, provide internet resource (www.cottonseed.com) and serve as information service center for members on legislation, statistics, government regulations, court decisions and other factors affecting business.
Nematode Info Sheets Available
Separate information sheets on Columbia Lance, Root-Knot and Reniform nematode species are now available from NCC. Fact sheets were developed as part of Cotton Foundation "Nematode Survey and Education Program" sponsored by Aventis CropScience.
Sheets, which contain such information as species distribution, plant symptoms, sampling/detection, treatment and management practices to combat pest, can be obtained by contacting Carolyn Bartow, NCC’s Technical Services Dept., at (901) 274-9030, email@example.com or ordering by mail at PO Box 820285, Memphis, TN 38182.
Bartow also can be contacted for copies of new seedling diseases informational brochure (see July 6 Cotton’s Week).
Cotton Sales Lower than Previous Week
Net export sales for week ending July 26 were approximately 45,400 bales (480 lb.), approximately 27% lower than previous week’s sales, raising total ’00-01 sales to almost 8.5 million bales. Total sales at same point in ’99-00 marketing year were approximately 7.8 million bales.
Shipments for week were 153,800 bales, bringing total exports to date to approximately 6.68 million bales, down from slightly over 6.8 million at comparable point in ’99-00 marketing year.
Step 3 Quota Triggered
USDA announced Step 3 quota for upland cotton as US quote for northern Europe delivery (USNE) exceeded northern Europe quote (NE or "A" Index) by more than 1.25 cents/lb., adjusted for value of Step 2 certificate, for 4th consecutive week. Quota will be established on Aug. 9 and will apply to upland cotton purchased not later than Nov. 6 and entered into US not later than Feb. 4, ’02. Step 3 quota permits importation of quantity of upland cotton equal to one week’s domestic mill use (152,663 bales). However, imports likely will be negligible given available supplies of US cotton and market conditions.
Effective Aug. 3-9, ’01
Adjusted World Price, SLM 11/16 30.27 cents*
Coarse Count Adjustment 0.00 cents
Current Step 2 Certificate Value 6.30 cents
Marketing Loan Gain Value 21.65 cents
*No Adjustment Made Under Step I
Current 3135 c.i.f. Northern Europe 44.15 cents
Forward 3135 c.i.f. Northern Europe No Quote
Coarse Count c.i.f. Northern Europe 0.00 cents
Current US c.i.f. Northern Europe 52.15 cents
Forward US c.i.f. Northern Europe No Quote