Will 2018 be cotton’s come back year?

With the passage of the 2014 farm bill, cotton lost its status as a covered commodity. Four years later almost to the date, it regained its status.

The U.S. cotton industry is resilient.

Some unfortunate world court rulings didn’t favor U.S. cotton and led to its removal as a covered commodity under the 2014 farm bill, which was signed into law Feb. 7, 2014, the date cotton growers lost a viable safety net as depressed world market prices took a toll on farms soon after the passage of the Agriculture Act of 2014.

Four years later, almost to the date of losing it, however, cotton regained its Title 1 covered status Feb. 9, 2018, when Congress passed and President Donald Trump signed budget legislation, which included language to restore cotton as a covered commodity, eligible for Price Loss Coverage and Agriculture Risk Coverage programs under the Agriculture Act of 2014. A bit of irony, maybe, but certainly a welcomed outcome.

Cotton now has a better safety net in place, or it soon will with the 2018 crop. The balance has improved for the overall farm safety net needed for Southeast farms to remain sustainable and one needed to maintain the infrastructure to support agriculture in our region.

Some stubborn, and maybe shrewd, U.S. cotton leadership spearheaded by the National Cotton Council, along with support from other cotton groups and Congressional offices, regained cotton’s status in Title 1. They deserve a pat on the back and a firm handshake for their work.

NCC began educating growers on the new seed cotton program this week with its "2018 Seed Cotton Program Webinars," which were presented at different times over two days for the industry across the country. If you missed them, you can see recordings of each webinar at the NCC website.

World demand for cotton is increasing once again, though supplies remain elevated, and cotton still faces intense competition from improved manmade fibers. But early 2018 cotton prices for Dec’18 futures are certainly better than they were the previous two years. Cotton acres are predicted to be a bit higher this year, too, in some parts of our growing region, where cotton is an important rotational partner in our diverse cropping systems.

So, will 2018 be cotton’s come back year?

That might be the wrong question to ask. To say come back really implies something must have left. Cotton never left. U.S. cotton growers are too good, U.S. cotton leadership too dogged and the industry’s products and technologies too prevailing. Each part can't miss a step, though. The industry has faced tough economic years. And U.S. cotton will face uncertain times again. The world keeps turning, and we'll see what tomorrow brings.

Take care. Good luck. And thanks for reading.

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