Direct payments authorized for the one year extension of the farm bill will be paid to farmers, House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-OK) has emphatically stated. Quoted in a report from the National Cotton Council Friday, Lucas, quoted in several recent public statements, expressed confidence DPs will be made for the 2013 crops. He said he want4ed to provide certainty because there have been questions that-as Congress debates the debt limit-changes could be made reducing or eliminating the $5 billion in Direct Payments authorized i the farm bill extension.
In a House Agriculture Committee office statement sent to DTN, Lucas stated, “While farmers and ranchers have been denied the five years of certainty a new farm bill would provide, folks in Washington need to stop the guessing game about farm policy for the 2013 crop year, especially with respect to direct payments. The existing safety net was extended a year to provide the certainty producers need for the 2013 crop year. This is the law of the land. And, I fully expect sign-up for the 2013 crop year, including direct payments, to begin as soon as possible. I assure you the five-year farm bill we will mark up in my committee will honor the commitment Congress made to growers when it extended the 2008 farm bill to cover the 2013 crop year.”
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has not been as certain. He noted crop insurance has taken cuts in recent years through contract negotiations and is less likely to be targeted. Direct payments, however, he said, might not be issued next fall.
“I think a much larger or deeper question is the issue of direct payments and how certain are we that direct payments will actually be available,: Vilsack said. “I think the concern a lot of people have is what Congress basically extended. I suppose they could ‘unextend,’ if there is such a word. And so what we at USDA are supposed to do, we are going to do, and do it in a timely way. But it’s not unrealistic to believe, as they are looking for deficit-reduction strategies, direct payments, I think are less popular than crop insurance.”
The concerns about DPs were fueled recently when Reps. Mulvaney (R-SC) and McClintock (R-CA) filed an amendment to partially offset disaster assistance funding for Hurricane Sandy by eliminating Direct Payments. Ultimately, the amendment was not considered by the House.
All cotton producers are encouraged to respond to the National Cotton Council’s annual survey of 2013 planting intentions, which was recently distributed to upland and extra-long staple cotton producers across the Cotton Belt. The current questionnaire was distributed through a combination of regular mail and email with the intent of reaching all US cotton farms. Growers who did not receive a questionnaire may contact the NCC via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. for instructions. Survey responses will be accepted until Wednesday, January 23. The survey, conducted each year to aid with industry planning and policy deliberations, provides the basis for the economic outlook presented to delegates during the NCC Annual Meeting in early February. Results will be presented during the joint meeting of program committees Saturday morning, February 9, during the NCC’s 2013 annual meeting in Memphis.
Agriculture secretary Tom Vilsack continues to remind producers to complete forms for the Census of Agriculture. As the only source of of uniform, comprehensive and impartial agricultural data for every county in the nation, the 2012 census provides USDA with current information to help insure an abundant, safe and accessible food supply for all America.
All farmers and ranchers should have received a census form in the mail by early January. Completed forms are due by Feb. 4. Farmers can return their forms by mail or online by visiting a secure website, www.agcensus.usda.gov. Federal law requirers to participate in the census and requires NASS to keep all individual informational confidential. For more information about the census, visit the website above or call 1-888-424-7828.