U.S. cotton farmers and cultivators are getting some government assistance to help with a challenging market.
U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, said speaking at the Annual Mid-South Farm and Gin Show on Saturday, that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will begin assisting cotton producers through a Cotton Ginning Cost Share (CGCS) program designed to encourage cotton growth and maintain the domestic marketing of cotton.
“America’s cotton producers have now faced four years of financial stress, just like the rest of our major commodities, but with a weaker safety net,” Perdue said. “In particular, cotton producers confront high input and infrastructure costs, which leaves them more financially leveraged than most of their colleagues. That economic burden has been felt by the entire cotton market, including the gins, cooperatives, marketers, cottonseed crushers, and the rural communities that depend upon their success.”
The program, which is administered by the Farm Service Agency (FSA), will only go to producers who planted cotton in the 2016 crop year to help with their ginning costs and facilitate marketing. Assistance rates vary regionally based on estimates of the regional variation in ginning costs per acre. The payments from the CGCS program will be capped at $40,000 per producer. To qualify for the program, cotton producers have to meet conservation compliance provisions, be actively engaged in farming and have adjusted gross incomes below $900,000.
“I hope this will be a needed help as the rural cotton-growing communities stretching from the Southeastern U.S. to the San Joaquin Valley of California prepare to plant,” Perdue said.
The CGCS program resulted from USDA utilizing its administrative authority under the Commodity Credit Corporation Charter Act to help facilitate the marketing of commodities.
“The U.S. cotton industry strongly commends Secretary Perdue for his efforts to deliver much-needed marketing assistance for our nation’s cotton producers,” National Cotton Council chairman Ron Craft said. Craft, a Texas cotton ginner and producer, said the program will provide direct marketing assistance to producers and help alleviate a portion of the difficult economic conditions facing producers.
The sign-up period for the CGCS program runs from March 12 to May 11.