My state and farm recently endured drought and then historic rain and floods at harvest. These, along with low prices, have put our cotton farmers in a catastrophic financial situation. Without financial help, some producers will be forced out of business and others forced to grow alternative crops.
If cotton production leaves, the infrastructure of gins, warehouses and associated businesses will also go, and history tells us it will not return. That means fewer workers have jobs while local businesses suffer reduced sales of fuel, tires, fertilizer, seed and other inputs. Transportation companies will scale back, and equipment sales will plummet, affecting lending institutions and consumers.
Some cotton farmers did not receive needed financing in 2015, and many more will experience that fate this year. The 2014 farm bill gives the U.S. agriculture secretary the authority to designate “other oilseeds” for commodity programs. The cotton industry, 100 U.S. representatives, 19 senators, numerous national agriculture and lending associations and 376 lenders from across the country have asked Secretary Tom Vilsack to place that designation on cottonseed, which generates significant revenue.
I urge Secretary Vilsack to answer the call.