What were your impressions of the House Ag Committee’s Farm bill hearings earlier this spring?
Plains Cotton Growers
We felt very good about the House Ag Committee’s Farm Bill hearing here in Lubbock. I think it was successful, and we were able to convey our message to the committee. We had a broad cross section of ag representatives at the meeting, and everyone generally expressed satisfaction about the 2008 Farm Bill. We had a consistent message for the committee, and I believe they heard what we had to say. So, from that standpoint, I felt very encouraged about what happened.
I think the hearings were probably a foreshadowing of things to come in farm policy discussions. It looks like Chairman Collin Peterson is focusing on food nutrition as a priority for the next Farm Bill. The one thing that concerns me is how this affects our safety net and the traditional concepts we’ve had in the past. I think we have to secure our food supply, which drives the U.S. economy.
Although I didn’t attend any of the recent House Ag Committee field hearings, the cotton industry has had a clear and concise message regarding farm policy and our hopes for the 2012 Farm Bill. We know there are changes coming, but despite all of that, I think there is room in the new Farm Bill for good farm support. History has proven this point every time Congress writes a new Farm Bill. I firmly believe that there will be opportunities for agriculture and the cotton industry. Chairman Peterson has been very fair to cotton in the past, and I hope he will continue to be our friend in Congress.
Our farmers in Georgia were very pleased by the hearing they attended. We had a large crowd there, and everyone seemed to like the format where we had several of our ag folks at the microphone expressing their opinions. Georgia farmers also believe that it’s a national security issue when the discussion is centered on policy that affects a plentiful food and fiber supply for the United States. It’s that important to us.
La. Cotton & Grain Assoc.
I think the industry was able to get its message across at these hearings because we had several cotton representatives testifying at the meetings in the South. And I think some row-crop producers echoed the same message at hearings in the Midwest. I think we were able to talk about improving crop insurance and a couple of other changes in the farm program. Will it carry a lot of weight next year when the negotiating starts and we’re dealing with budget situations? I really don’t know. But the committee heard our message this time.