What is in this article?:
- Cotton and the 112th Congress
- Trade issues
- Newcomers on key congressional committees, especially the House Agriculture Committee.
- The budget will be the key.
- Agriculture lost a lot of rural, conservative, Blue Dog Democrats.
- House Republican agenda will focus on the budget deficit, banning earmarks, regulatory review and trade.
- Possible cuts to agriculture programs include a $10 billion reduction from direct payments, conservation and export enhancement programs.
Trade issues include free trade agreement action with Korea, Columbia and Panama. Transportation and immigration are also possible targets for the 112th Congress.
Maguire said House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas does not see 2011 as a deadline for developing a new farm bill. “He also says it’s not necessary to completely rewrite the current law but prefers to identify and fix what isn’t working.”
Ag programs without baselines are in jeopardy and “38 programs are unfunded and will require $8 billion to reauthorize,” Maguire said. “Commodities, conservation, nutrition and specialty crop programs will be in intense competition for funds.”
The Brazil WTO ruling continues to pose a challenge for cotton. In a framework agreement Brazil agreed not to retaliate if certain changes are made to the cotton program in the 2012 farm bill. If that agreement falls through, retaliation “against U.S. products, services and intellectual property is authorized.”
Also of concern is language in the Doha round of trade talks, specifically the “Hong Kong text requiring a ‘more expeditious and more ambitious’ outcome for cotton.”
But cotton also has opportunities, Maguire said, including “remaining a reliable supplier of quality fiber, completing the boll weevil and pink bollworm programs, continuing to develop and adopt technology and maintaining highly successful research and promotion programs.”
Maguire said the National Cotton Council is deeply involved in efforts to work with Congress, educate newcomers and represent the interests of the U.S. cotton industry in Washington.