Efforts to Secure Immediate Assistance Reviewed in Texas Meetings
In media briefing and in presentations at Farmers Cooperative Compress and Plains Cotton Cooperative Assn. in Lubbock, National Cotton Council (NCC) staff and officers of Plains Cotton Growers Assn. (PCGA) reviewed industry efforts in Congress to bring immediate financial assistance to growers while addressing long-term farm policy issues
LUBBOCK, TX (Special) -- In media briefing and in presentations at Farmers Cooperative Compress and Plains Cotton Cooperative Assn. in Lubbock, National Cotton Council (NCC) staff and officers of Plains Cotton Growers Assn. (PCGA) reviewed industry efforts in Congress to bring immediate financial assistance to growers while addressing long-term farm policy issues.
"Specifically, the NCC stated in its testimony to the House Agriculture Committee that growers need immediate relief equal to that received in 1999 and 2000," said NCC Vice President for Washington Operations John Maguire. "That would be in the form of Agriculture Market Transition Act and marketing loss payments equaling about 15 cents/lb. with payment limits mitigated." That level of funding is "critically important," Maguire said, in financing growers for the coming season.
Lubbock banker Curtis Griffith said there has been "enormous deterioration" in the financial condition of many of his bank's ag customers. He said bank officials are attempting to restructure as many loans as possible. "Immediate assistance will give West Texas farmers some cushion and give all of us time to work on long-term policy for agriculture."
PCGA President Ronnie Hopper, Petersburg, said, "We do not have the luxury to look long-term. West Texas farmers are in severe economic distress, and only by regional organizations such as ours working at the national level with the NCC and all segments of the industry can we hope to secure the needed assistance."
Mark Williams of Farwell, vice president of PCGA and an NCC Board member, reiterated the need for short-term help. "We're running out of time and need help now," Williams said, noting also that delivery of long-term assistance could be difficult because of World Trade Organization and budget restrictions.
Dr. Mark Lange, NCC vice president for policy analysis and program coordination, reviewed key points of the organization's proposals made to the House Ag Committee. NCC called for multi-dimensional delivery of assistance that would support growers at a level not less than they received in 1999 and 2000, which was about 80 cents/lb.
"Our approach is driven by the need to get as much funding as possible for growers, to be as cost effective as possible and to be able to comply with US obligations under the Uruguay Round of WTO regarding spending ceilings," Lange said.
NCC called for elimination of payment limits or, at a minimum, provisions for reasonable separate limits for each category of benefits.