Can the cotton industry’s friends in Washington prevent serious cuts in important ag programs?
I certainly hope that our friends in Congress will be there for us. As far as I’m concerned, the 2008 Farm Bill is working as intended. No counter-cyclical payment is being handed out, and that is saving the government a lot of money. I would also hate to see the direct payment affected in any way. We all know these high prices aren’t going to last forever. For that reason, the farmer still needs protection when that happens down the road.
In times of high prices, it’s easy to forget how important our farm programs are. Right now, I also think it’s critical that we have a viable crop insurance program. From a banker’s perspective, losing something like that would be really bad for us here in West Texas. I’m sure there will be cuts in all programs, but I hope they will be fair and not necessarily targeted toward agriculture.
Judd Hill Foundation
To me, agriculture is just about as important as national defense to this country. We are hopeful that this Congress will feel the same way. There are some lists of priorities where agriculture should be at the top. I would hope that Congress would think long and hard before reducing funds for ag programs. It’s just so important and vital to our country’s economy. I also hope they’d give agriculture some special consideration. I am encouraged that many of the new congressmen and senators are from the South, and I think they have an appreciation for how important this industry is to the country.
There is no doubt that we have a major challenge to preserve farm programs as everyone in Washington is trying to cut budgets. But I have to believe that our leaders appreciate what agriculture does for this country. In an era of food shortages around the world, the United States needs to protect this industry as much as possible. So, it could be that agriculture may receive better treatment than we first thought. I hope so anyway.
We have a good story to tell when we visit senators and congressmen this year. I am actually encouraged by the kinds of responses we’ve received so far on Capitol Hill. As chairman of the American Cotton Producers, I know we have a big job ahead of us, but I am very hopeful about our opportunities. A couple of amendments were defeated recently in Congress, and that tells me that folks understand the importance of agriculture. I am also hopeful that we can maintain an important safety net for cotton despite the deficit-cutting environment in Washington.