Members of the newly appointed Plains Cotton Growers Executive Committee hit the ground running to discuss PCG legislative policy positions in advance of the American Cotton Producers meeting.

The PCG Executive Committee discussed current PCG policy positions and how they relate to the positions being discussed at the national level.

As a result of the meeting, PCG representatives will have a more focused set of policy ideas to suggest for short- and long-term relief. PCG's positions reflect the needs and interests of cotton growers on the Texas High Plains and what they feel is necessary for survival.

PCG policy objectives include seeking supplemental assistance payments at a level equal to the total assistance provided to growers in 1999 that totaled slightly more than 15 cents per pound.

Farm policy objectives agreed to by the PCG Executive Committee include: seeking an uncapped, formula derived loan rate with a 60-cent minimum level; continuation of a de-coupled, AMTA style fixed payment in the range of 7 to 9 cents per pound; initiation of a target price-based counter-cyclical price support system coupled to planting; and initiation of a new Voluntary Resource Conservation Program under the Conservation Title of the next farm bill to provide payments to growers who idle portions of their acreage.

Payment rates for the proposed counter-cyclical and AMTA-style payments would be based on modified payment yields reflecting the higher of a grower's current APH or the frozen 1985 payment yield used today.

PCG's overall goal is parallel to the policy sought by the National Cotton Council to achieve at least 80 cents per pound from a combination of market prices and loan program benefits, counter-cyclical price support payments and fixed AMTA-style payments.

PCG representatives will continue to voice the policy goals set forth by its membership throughout the process to develop the next farm bill.

That includes the importance of a 60-cent minimum marketing loan rate and the need for dependable support payments provided through a combination of fixed de-coupled payments similar to the Production Flexibility Contract payment (AMTA) as well as the development of a counter-cyclical price support payment similar to the old target price system.

House and Senate conferees are working to hammer out a fiscal year 2001 budget resolution.

The House version of the budget gives agriculture priority status to receive funds from a contingency fund expected by budget surpluses forecast in FY2002 to 20011. The House version also gives agriculture priority to projected FY2001 surpluses for supplemental assistance.

The Senate version of the budget includes identifies $9 billion for supplemental assistance payments in 2001, as well as authorization for some $58.5 billion in additional budget authority for the FY2002 to 2011 time period.

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