Texas: Farm Bill Discussed at 56th Blackland Income Growth Conference

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    Texas’ No. 1 cash crop may receive loss protection it did not get in the last farm bill, according to a Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service economist.

    Dr. Joe Outlaw, AgriLife Extension economist in College Station, told attendees at the 56th Blackland Income Growth Conference that cotton farmers could receive assistance as part of an $81 billion disaster payment package that would make seed cotton eligible for commodity subsidies linked to crop prices.

    “Our No. 1 crop in the state hasn’t been protected in this last farm bill,” Outlaw said during the luncheon keynote. “This is a good deal and a big deal for Texas cotton producers.”

    The disaster provision would move cotton into Title I farm program protection. Already having received House approval, the cotton industry now awaits the Senate to act on their version of the disaster bill.

    Outlaw, who is also co-director of the Agricultural and Food Policy Center at Texas A&M University, gave a briefing on the activities of the center and how it conducts analysis for Congressional agriculture committees on the ‘what ifs’ of proposed farm legislation and potential agriculture risks.

    He discussed several aspects of the current farm bill, which expires at the end of September, including Title I commodities, which receive $5 billion, Title II conservation programs $6 billion and Title XI crop insurance $9 billion, annually.

    Outlaw said while perception is that agriculture is heavily subsidized, only one half of one percent of the federal budget is spent on these three budget areas combined. Nutrition programs receive the largest share of farm bill spending.

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    Food programs are just one of the hot button issues amidst a backdrop of differing views in Washington on how the next farm bill should fare, he said.

    “The better the economy is, the less people qualify for food programs,” Outlaw said. “That’s the biggest fight right now as to how much is allocated.”

    The Blackland conference is the largest in the region, according to organizers, and provides farmers and ranchers with the latest information on new technology and cropping methods to boost yields and profits.

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