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Cotton and the Looming Farm Bill

Cotton and the Looming Farm Bill

On any given day, it seems, there are a half-dozen bombshell stories coming out of Washington DC. Few of them give you the warm and fuzzies.

One thing you won’t find mentioned in any of those headlines, though, is the farm bill. It should go without saying, cotton’s maneuvering to get back into Title I designation is also not making the nightly news. But that’s not to say that the cotton industry wasn’t hard at work. Their continuing efforts paid off with the February 9 passage of the bipartisan budget bill by Congress, which cleared the way for cotton to return to Title I coverage.

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I don’t have to tell you, dear reader, but that’s a big deal.

The 2014 Farm Bill was a bitter pill to swallow for a number of U.S. cotton producers. Due to WTO fallout resulting from the Brazil trade dispute, cotton was significantly hindered in the creation of that piece of legislation. Cotton producers could no longer receive direct or counter-cyclical payments.

But suddenly, cotton has a great chance at returning a sense of security to its producer segment. And that development doesn’t just happen by accident.

Across the country, in forums that went almost entirely unnoticed, the National Cotton Council and others have spearheaded efforts to accomplish this goal. On a hunting trip back to the Mississippi Delta in January, I happened to hear about a meeting of a handful of past NCC Chairmen, all living in the Mid-South, who gathered at the Delta Council offices in Stoneville, MS, to hammer out Farm Bill strategy. I’m told similar meetings took place around the Cotton Belt, at the behest of the NCC and other cotton allies.

It is said that cotton’s adversaries in the world of ag politics have been envious, through the years, of cotton’s place of prominence on Capitol Hill. This, too, is something that doesn’t happen by accident. It takes an organized and skilled effort to keep cotton in the purview of politicians who must answer to an untold amount of voices in their respective constituencies. Cotton has done this masterfully over the decades.

Our industry has scored another victory in Washington DC, and, although there’s still work to be done, we need to give credit where due. There were grumbles around the Cotton Belt following the 2014 Farm Bill. Are those same voices prepared to laud the efforts of groups like the National Cotton Council, now that cotton has regained its Title I designation?

Cotton’s overall fate in this farm bill won’t be sealed until the actual bill is passed later this year. But a ton of hard work has resulted in getting our crop back on the right track here in the
early spring.

You reap what you sow – on the farm and on Capitol Hill. Take a moment to give thanks to cotton’s associations and advocates for their diligent efforts this early in the season.

 

From Cotton Grower Magazine – March 2018