The exclusion of a cottonseed policy from the fiscal year 2017 omnibus appropriations bill is extremely disappointing and potentially damaging to cotton producers continuing to face financial pressures, said National Cotton Council (NCC) Chairman Ronnie Lee.
The cottonseed policy – developed by the U.S. cotton industry in consultation with Congress – appears to have been sidelined by political support for the dairy industry.
Lee said the cottonseed policy is broadly supported by the entire U.S. cotton industry, as well as many other farm bill stakeholders; is budget neutral with the costs offset only by cotton-related provisions; is vetted and supported by a broad, bipartisan group in Congress; and is designed to help facilitate development of the 2018 farm bill.
The Bronwood, GA, cotton producer says that, unfortunately, Senators Leahy (D-VT) and Stabenow (D-MI) chose to pit one agricultural commodity or industry against another instead of working collectively on policy issues, at the expense of cotton producers and farm families continuing to struggle with negative economic returns and increasing financial pressures.
“The Senators’ desire to help dairy producers somehow became a pre-requisite for whether Congress could provide a policy to cotton producers to help respond to the ongoing financial and trade policy challenges,” Lee said. “There was no rationale or justification for linking support between cotton and dairy producers.
“These actions not only have left cotton producers with no near-term options to help them deal with long-running economic issues, but have harmed the prospects for developing a new farm bill,” he added. “Without the cottonseed policy in place, the result is that all farm bill stakeholders will be seeking support from an expected smaller overall budget available for the next farm bill.”
The NCC offered their appreciation to those Members of Congress who supported the efforts to include the cottonseed policy, in particular Senators Cochran (R-MS), Cornyn (R-TX), Boozman (R-AR), Perdue (R-GA), Roberts (R-KS), Strange (R-AL), and Representatives Conaway (R-TX), Peterson (D-MN), Aderholt (R-AL), Bishop (D-GA), McCarthy (R-CA), Frelinghuysen (R-NJ), and Lowey (D-NY).
The cottonseed policy was developed by all of the cotton industry’s segments and production regions over the course of the past two years. A letter from 58 cotton organizations was recently sent to Appropriations Committee leaders outlining this policy and the immediate need for it.
“The NCC will now shift its focus to working with Secretary Perdue to determine what administrative options USDA has to help cotton producers,” Lee stated. “Our industry will remain optimistic that the economic well-being of farm families and our rural communities will ultimately prevail over Congressional politics.”
Source – National Cotton Council