Active involvement and participation are needed to push the cotton, textile and related sectors forward, says Larry Combest, former chairman of the U.S. House Agriculture Committee.
Combest, speaking during the Lubbock Chamber of Commerce Salute to Ag Luncheon on National Ag Day, reminisced about his long experience in the United States Congress and provided valuable suggestions for the cotton industry, as well as other industry sectors.
His advice: get involved in the causes that affect the industry. Being very specific about problems and reasoning with policy makers will help to move the industry forward, he said.
During the luncheon, Combest and his associate Tom Sell of Lubbock-based Combest, Sell & Associates explained to farmers, academics and agribusiness people some ways to accomplish bigger tasks such as passing farm bill legislation. Combest was the architect of the 2002 Farm Bill and spearheaded the bipartisan support for the bill.
Trade is also important, stated Combest. Sell noted that the United States produces more than it can consume, making fair trade deals imperative. Getting to know people, creating alliances and having a collective voice such as Chambers of Commerce are also needed at times of severe competition for resources.
Lubbock is the center of major cotton production and research efforts, and supports a thriving agribusiness community. Murvat Musa, executive director of Lubbock’s Reese Technology Center, said, “Cotton’s importance to the West Texas region goes beyond economics. It’s truly embedded in the culture and is vital for future generations and the prosperity of families that have been providing cotton to the world.”
The group also noted the continued global need to support research and programs to boost production, given many uncertainties that exist in agriculture and manufacturing. Proposed reductions in the USDA budget also raises concern among researchers and producers.
Steve Verett, executive vice president of Plains Cotton Growers, reminded the group that the proposed budget is a blueprint that offers hints about the priorities of the Trump administration. However, Verett noted that the proposed cuts are troubling, as they represent potentially significant reductions to agricultural research and the delivery of programs through the Farm Service Agency.