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Cotton, the red-headed stepchild of the farm bill

The first Senate Agriculture Committee farm bill field hearing took place Thursday in Manhattan, Kansas.

Farmers raised many concerns but the commodity group feeling like they get the least help is the cotton growers.

Tom Lahey is a fourth-generation cotton farmer from Moscow, Kansas.

“Shortly after the passage of the 2014 farm bill, cotton prices began a steep decline. The result of a buildup of global cotton stocks, decreased demands and reduced exports. Since 75 percent of our cotton is exported, international markets heavily influence the financial condition of the U.S. cotton industry.”

U.S. cotton acres are expected to recover. According to a recent National Cotton Council planting survey, farmers are expected to plant nine percent more acres than in 2016. But Lahey says the industry still has many concerns.

“Since cotton is not eligible for the price in revenue policies like other crops, while ARC and PLC policies have generally performed well for me in responding to the market downturn that we are experiencing in crops like wheat, corn, and grain sorghum; I continue to be largely exposed to the full market impact on cotton since it was excluded from these programs.”

The National Cotton Council has been working to get cottonseed as a covered commodity under ARC and PLC programs.

“We strongly believe this policy is needed to provide a bridge until the new farm bill is enacted. We urge the committee to seek any opportunities to increase the federal funding in farm policies that ensure consumers have the safest and most affordable supply of food and fiber.”

The NCC was among numerous organizations which signed a letter February 21st to key House and Senate budget and appropriations committee leaders urging them to reject calls for additional cuts to policies within the jurisdiction of the House and Senate agriculture committees.

Listen to Lahey’s testimony here.