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Cotton may need to be flexible in next farm bill

PCG president encourages member involvement Says budget will be key factor in next farm bill Water issues to be more contentious

Cotton may have to be flexible when the 2012 farm bill debate begins in earnest, said Plains Cotton Growers, Inc., President Brad Heffington in his president’s report last week at the PCG 54thannual meeting in Lubbock.

“We don’t know yet what we’re looking at,” Heffington said. “But we have to keep the safety net. West Texas production is high risk. And even though we have high prices now, we know that can change.”

Heffington said budget will by a key factor in the next farm bill but noted that the current law “is working. We are under budget and saving the government money. We need a good farm bill for when times are not good.”

He said many High Plains cotton producers took advantage of the cottonseed insurance pilot program this year when they signed up for crop insurance. “Also, we need to watch cotton loss adjustment rules that are coming up.”

Other PCG activities include working closely with Cotton Council International on trade missions to showcase the production and quality of West Texas cotton. “We’re also looking at the new Chinese cotton policy with a $1.50 per pound loan guarantee in China.”

“We’re working with the Southwest Council of Agribusiness. They have been very beneficial to us.”

Heffington said state issues, including maintaining agriculture tax exemptions and water legislation, also require PCG effort. He said water issues “will become more contentious. We want rules that give us the most local control. We don’t need water rules legislated in Austin.”

He said PCG will continue to work with legislators on state and federal levels.

“We’re always busy,” he said. “And we’re always looking for people to be involved. We look to our members for input. It’s an exciting time to be a cotton producer. We harvested a good crop and we have high prices, too.” That, he said, is an unusual situation.

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