USDA Secretary Vilsack Says No to Request to Add Cottonseed as Other Oilseed Under Farm Program Safety NetWed, 03 Feb 2016 16:11:14 CST
US Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack says he can't help cotton producers with the request to declare cottonseed as an oilseed that would be covered under the federal farm safety net that was a part of Title I of the 2014 Farm Law. According to a report online at Agri-Pulse, "Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has notified lawmakers he lacks the legal authority to provide subsidies for cottonseed, a blow to growers reeling from a plunge in global cotton prices.
"The industry had asked Vilsack to make cottonseed an eligible commodity under the new Price Loss Coverage and Agriculture Risk Coverage programs that were created by the 2014 farm bill.
"Vilsack told reporters Wednesday that Congress would not only have to authorize coverage of cottonseed but also find a way to pay the estimated cost of the subsidies, about $1 billion a year."
The Agri-Pulse report indicates that the Secretary had notified members of Congress, including House Ag Committee Chairman Mike Conaway of Texas, but based on a statement from the House Ag Committee released this afternoon just before 2:00 PM central time, Conaway has not received anything "official" from USDA.
Here is the complete statement from Chairman Conaway on the Cottonseed request:
"I greatly appreciate that Secretary Vilsack has been taking time to consider the request made by me and more than 100 members of Congress to exercise his authority under the law to allow cottonseed to participate alongside other oilseeds under the Farm Bill. The heavy subsidies and protectionist policies put in place by China, India and other major players have deeply depressed the global cotton market and now seriously jeopardize the livelihoods of thousands of American farm families and an important sector of our nation's economy.
"Time and again the Secretary has used the tools made available to him under the law to respond to a crisis in agriculture. The current economic situation for cotton farmers is dire and it warrants the same urgent and meaningful action by the Department.
"Because I have not received an official reply to our request from the Department, but have only read media reports speculating on the Department's intended course of action on this matter, I would simply underscore that U.S. farm policy absolutely hinges on Washington showing the same level of empathy for farmers and ranchers around the country irrespective of where they farm or what they raise.
"The Department has not only the legal authority to designate cottonseed as an ‘other oilseed,' but the responsibility to act, and I trust that the Secretary is sensitive to the situation and shares my commitment and the commitment of so many others that this matter must be meaningfully responded to in a timely way."
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