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Seed cotton deadline nearing; expired farm bill generates uncertainty

horses, cotton
Seed cotton deadline is Dec. 7. No late-filing provision.
Economist encourages growers to seek advice from multiple sources before making seed cotton decisions. Texas A&M decision tool and help desk available.

The December 7-deadline for seed cotton signups is nearing. Not having a farm bill in place is creating uncertainty as growers make decisions about reallocating generic base acres, says an economist.

“Do you take the 80/20 and elect to do the seed cotton acres for 80 percent and the unassigned base for 20 percent based on what you expect those payments to be for the next year, and hope you get to reallocate those acres in the future?” says Dr. Amy Hagerman, Oklahoma State University Agricultural Economics assistant professor in Food and Ag Policy. “Or do you make the decision with the assumption that any decision you make on the reallocation would potentially be permanent?”

The 2014 farm bill expired Sept. 30 and with the new bill in limbo, Hagerman says, whatever decision a grower makes, “they need to assume that decision has the potential to hold for the long term.”

By Dec. 7, growers also will need to update yields for seed and enroll in either the 2018 Price Loss Coverage (PLC) or Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) programs.

See, Generic Base Decision Tool available to growers online or by phone; deadline Dec. 7

Hagerman, who spoke at the 2018 Rural Economic Outlook Conference at Stillwater, Okla., talked about risk versus risk management, including the risk involved in the seed cotton decisions.

“We have these risk management policies, but we also have risk around what those policies will be in the future and that factors into our decision making as producers when we're thinking about what we're going to do,” Hagerman says.

“My best advice, is to seek information from multiple sources. Talk to your local FSA agent about the options available in your individual operation. Talk to your county Extension agent, walk through it with them and see if they have any thoughts based on what other people in your area or the state are doing. And do what we always do, which is get information from the best sources we can and make the best decision we can make based on our current information.”

But no matter the decision, producers need to be aware there is no late-filing provision — if they miss the Dec. 7-deadline, they miss getting into the program, says USDA Farm Service Agency State Executive Director Gary Six. “We don't want any producer who wants in the program to miss it.”

See, Seed Cotton Program Enrollment Ends December 7, 2018

To help growers understand how the seed cotton program may affect their FSA payments, Texas A&M University developed the 2018 Generic Base Decision Aid. Growers can either access the tool online at or by calling the help desk toll free at (979) 845-5913, Monday through Friday, from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Central Standard Time.

Assistance is available to all producers or landowners from any cotton-producing state, says Dr. Joe Outlaw, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service economist and co-director of the Agricultural and Food Policy Center (AFPC) at Texas A&M University in College Station. 

When a grower contacts the help desk, AFPC staff and graduate students, under Outlaw’s tutelage from the College of Agricultural Economics, are on hand to answer questions, interpret information or enter a grower’s information into the online tool on their behalf.

Master’s student Natalie Graff, from D’Hanis, Texas, says producers can help expedite the process by having three pieces of information available:

  • FSA-156EZ (program info for other covered crops on their farm)
  • 2008-2012 planting history and Cotton CCP yield (Listed on the history summary report letter from the FSA)
  • 2008-2012 yields (APH yield history from crop insurance forms)


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