MEMPHIS - The National Cotton Council called on Members of the House and Senate to promptly override the President’s veto of the Food, Conservation and Energy Act of 2008.
NCC Chairman Larry McClendon said, “While the legislation is not perfect, this new farm bill retains an effective safety net. Although prices for some commodities are currently at attractive levels, farmers are planting at a time of unprecedented increases in input costs with no commodity policy in place. In some areas, farmers will soon harvest crops for which there is no loan program in place.
“The bill’s opponents have offered no viable alternatives after nearly two years of debate. There is simply no option but to override the veto and put predictable policy in place for farmers, lenders and rural communities. Congress already has demonstrated its overwhelming support of the bill so the U.S. cotton industry urges all Representatives and Senators to vote to override. We all know prices are cyclical, and U.S. agriculture needs the certainty in policy that this bill will provide in order to make market oriented cropping and marketing decisions.”
In a letter to Congressional members, the NCC emphasized that the legislation includes many of the cotton industry’s recommendations and priorities. Those will improve market orientation, competitiveness and flow to market plus provide important financial assistance to domestic textile manufacturers to spur investment and help maintain good paying jobs in an industry competing with heavily subsidized imports.
The letter reiterated that this bill contains significant reforms to payment limitations and program eligibility. The three-entity rule is eliminated and spouses are provided greater equity. Redemptions of loans with certificates no longer will be authorized and limitations on marketing
loan gains are eliminated. Cumulative limits on direct and counter-cyclical payments are maintained at current levels resulting in a 50 percent reduction for some growers due to the termination of the three-entity rule. The agreement significantly tightens an income means-test first enacted in 2002, by providing that individuals with non-farm income exceeding $500,000 will be ineligible for all program benefits and those with farm income exceeding $750,000 will be ineligible for decoupled income support. These and other modifications to eligibility standards in this farm will help ensure program benefits are directed to true farmers.
“The House and Senate have worked diligently to produce sound, balanced agriculture policy,” McClendon said. “The bill is fully paid for and will not add to the deficit. More than 1,000 organizations have signed a coalition letter supporting the override.”
The U.S. cotton industry provides employment for some 440,000 Americans and generates more than $120 billion in annual economic activity. The NCC’s mission is ensuring the industry’s ability to effectively and profitably compete in the raw cotton, oilseed and U.S.-manufactured product markets at home and abroad.