Some New Year’s Resolutions for Cotton
From Cotton Grower Magazine – December 2018
As America’s cotton producers wrap up a late, often difficult harvest season, we enter a time of reflection. 2018 was a year that saw drought conditions at planting time and seemingly endless precipitation at harvest. It was a season that brought us rosy market conditions and a helpful hand from Capitol Hill – until trade wars put a damper on both developments.
Ultimately, we will turn our attention and our hopes to 2019. December, after all, is a time for looking forward, too. And like most folks, the cotton industry would do well to make some New Year’s resolutions – as I’ve done in this space in the past.
For starters, American cotton growers ought to resolve to leave work on the farm over the next couple months and spend more time with the family at home. For many, it’s been a long year capped off by a challenging harvest season. Even in the best conditions, harvest can be a royal pain in the backside. Wives (and some husbands, to be sure) and children have been patient while you finished toiling out there on the farm. So reward their patience. Attack that honey-do list. Spend some time in the woods with the kids. They’ll be thankful for it. You probably will, too.
Our newly-elected Congress, difficult as this may seem, should resolve to pass a comprehensive Farm Bill no later than the first half of 2019. I don’t know when things on Capitol Hill became so contentious that we couldn’t even find common ground on something so universally supported as farm legislation. Just about every constituency in this nation understands that our farmers are crucial to America’s success. Give your constituents a needed morale boost, politicians. Pass that Farm Bill – and leave cotton right where it belongs (under Title I protection.)
Keeping our focus on Washington D.C., there are plenty of resolutions USDA could undertake in 2019. Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue and his department performed admirably in 2018, although they did seem rather erratic in their production projections throughout the year. American cotton farmers, they said, were going to blow the roof off warehouses throughout the Cotton Belt – until, suddenly after a tumultuous fall, they weren’t.
The net result, unfortunately, was a dulling effect on market prices. I know, I know – USDA’s goal with their reports is accuracy. And there’s nothing to suggest they weren’t accurate throughout the year. But maybe in 2019 they could resolve to err on the side of caution? Lowballing an estimate or two might put just a little more change in the pockets of our farmers. And that’s a good thing for the industry as a whole.
Finally, for those who prayed for rain or danced for rain or both during the end of the 2018 season – could you resolve to do that again around April of 2019? And then again around the end of June? We’d all be greatly appreciative.