LUBBOCK, TX – The National Cotton Council is emphasizing to lawmakers and USDA the need for the current farm law to remain unaltered through its 2007 duration, and that payment limits should not be further tightened.
Craig Brown, NCC vice president, Producer Affairs, told the Plains Cotton Ginners Association here today that U.S. cotton industry leaders are telling Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns that the current farm program provides an important safety net for U.S. agriculture and agriculture would be harmed by more restrictive payment limits.
Brown said discussion on a new farm bill already has begun, such as USDA’s listening sessions and Congressional members’ individual town hall forums.
Regarding the shaping of the new farm bill, Brown said, “Limited budget resources and greater competition for funding between commodity, conservation and nutrition programs will pose a challenge. There will be pressure to include specialty crops, and the legislation will be influenced by the WTO Doha agreement and the Brazil-WTO cotton case. The industry also is concerned with attempts to alter the structure of the cotton program and to impose more restrictive spending caps.”
Brown also summarized for the ginners the myriad of other NCC activities, from disaster legislation to China trade.
He noted that there will be attempts to include agricultural disaster assistance for hurricane and drought losses in addition to the two hurricane supplemental bills totaling more than $60 billion.
Other pressures the NCC is dealing with, Brown said, are: 1) cuts to nutrition programs due to disaster, 2) Senator Grassley’s (R-IA) attempts on payment limit tightening and eligibility changes, and 3) the call to end the Step 2 program earlier than the 2005 marketing year.
Among other major trade issues the NCC is active on, he noted, were attempts to gain an “early harvest” of the cotton program in the WTO Doha Round, implementation of safeguards against surging Chinese textiles and work with the Administration on seeing that China complies fully with its WTO Accession Agreement.