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Cotton Industry Applauds USDA Production History Changes

Several cotton industry organizations commended USDA’s Risk Management Agency (RMA) for implementing a farm law provision important to cotton production areas that have been hit with drought and other adverse weather in recent years.

This key provision allows growers of select spring 2015 crops, including cotton, to adjust their Actual Production History (APH) yields to offset the devastating impact of severe weather events. The APH Yield Exclusion, available for most farmers of select crops starting in the spring of 2015, allows eligible producers to exclude any yield from their APH database in years where the yield of their county or an adjacent county was 50 percent or lower than the 10-year average.

The provision helps ensure that producers hit by natural disaster may still purchase enough crop insurance coverage in future years to insure their expected yields. Without the provision, insurable yields would lag far below expected yields, posing serious problems for producers and lenders alike as producers try to cash flow and secure credit.

National Cotton Council Chairman Wally Darneille said, “Many producers across the Cotton Belt have incurred yield losses due to severe weather, particularly the past three years. This will greatly assist our producer members who are already making plans for next season.”

Darneille noted that the announcement was another example of the excellent work by RMA in addressing the tremendous challenge of implementing provisions of the new farm law, which include the Stacked Income Protection Plan for cotton, the Supplemental Coverage Option and a host of other provisions.

The new program also drew immediate praise from Plains Cotton Growers, which advocates for cotton growers in the Texas High Plains.

“The provision allows growers to help offset the impact of drought that devastated cotton and other crops throughout several states, including Texas, over the past three growing seasons,” said PCG President Shawn Holladay.

“We commend Secretary Tom Vilsack and RMA Administrator Brandon Willis for answering the call from farmers across the nation to get this done.”

Rickey Bearden, president of the Southwest Council of Agribusiness – a consortium of farm organizations, lenders, and Main Street businesses in Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas – expressed pleasure that implementation of the provision was moved up to allow timely relief under crop insurance for impacted growers.

“The combination of the severe droughts of recent years and falling crop prices made it absolutely imperative that USDA implement this provision sooner rather than later,” said Bearden. “We remain concerned that the provision will not be implemented in time for this year’s winter wheat crop, but having the provision in place in time for the spring crop is extremely important to all producers in the southwest region.

“In addition to Secretary Vilsack and his team, we owe a debt of gratitude to House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-OK) who developed the APH provision and included it in the Farm Bill, and to Subcommittee Chairman Mike Conaway (R-TX) who strongly backed the provision and pushed for its timely implementation,” Bearden said.

“A special thanks is also owed to Members of Congress who worked hard for this day, including Senators John Cornyn (R-TX), Mark Udall (D-CO), and Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Reps. Randy Neugebauer (R-TX), Filemon Vela (D-TX), Pete Gallego (D-TX), and Henry Cuellar (D-TX).”

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