Vilsack can help save cotton farms

Published 9:26 pm Thursday, January 14, 2016

To the editor:

Cotton farmers are in dire need of economic assistance. If cotton production leaves our state and local communities, the infrastructure of cotton gins, warehouses and associated business will go with it, and history tells us it will not return.

The loss of cotton production means fewer workers have jobs; local businesses suffer with reduced sales of fuel, tires, fertilizer, seed and other inputs; and transportation companies must scale back due to reduced volume.

Email newsletter signup

Impacts go well beyond the sectors that I have mentioned and include equipment sales, lending institutions and eventually the consumer.

Some cotton farmers did not receive the financing needed to operate in 2015, and many more will experience the same fate this year.

The 2014 Farm Bill gives the Secretary of Agriculture the authority to designate “other oilseeds” that can be included in commodity programs. The cotton industry has asked that Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack place that designation on cottonseed. Cottonseed is a valuable product generating significant revenue by farmers.

If this does not go into effect, my cotton acreage will be lower. This will help with our revenue and our crop rotation decisions. If we can’t keep growing cotton, this will put a lot of pressure on other commodities.

I urge Secretary Vilsack to answer the call of 100 members of Congress, 19 senators, numerous national agriculture and lending associations, as well as 376 lenders from across the country, who have all written to him in support of this proposal to designate cottonseed as an “other oilseed.”

Farmers are optimistic people, and I am optimistic that the secretary will use his authority to help stabilize our industry.

J.W. Jones