On December 15, the American Soybean Association (ASA) wrote to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to support a request from the National Cotton Council urging the USDA to use its discretionary authority to establish a cottonseed program under Title I of the Agricultural Act of 2014.
“ASA is aware of and concerned about the difficult economic conditions currently facing U.S. cotton growers and the cotton industry,” wrote ASA President Richard Wilkins in the letter. “Participation in the STAX program in 2014, at only 24 percent of producers, leaves a large majority of cotton farmers with no protection against low prices other than crop insurance and the marketing loan program. Allowing farmers with generic acres the option to sign up for a cottonseed PLC or County-ARC program would offer producers an improved safety net.”
“We do not believe a cottonseed program would have a negative impact on the production of soybeans or other oilseeds, or on vegetable oil prices,” added Wilkins. “The PLC and County-ARC programs are decoupled, so payments are not tied to current-year planting of any crop and producers can respond to market signals. This market-oriented approach is similar to programs in effect under the 2008 farm bill, when production of cotton and cottonseed was much higher, but did not negatively affect production or prices of soybeans or other oilseeds.”
“All of us in agriculture need to work together to support a safety net that works for all farmers,” commented ASA Chairman Wade Cowan of Brownfield, Texas. “Soybean growers are pleased to work with fellow producers from the cotton belt to make sure such a safety net exists.”
ASA’s support is conditional on the determination that the estimated cost of the program can be offset, if necessary, without negatively impacting funding for other farm bill programs or reducing funding for crop insurance, and that it will not violate U.S. commitments under the WTO.