Media reports have Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack saying he does not have the legal authority to declare cottonseed an “other oilseed,” but cotton groups say they are not giving up the fight to make cottonseed a program crop like soybeans or sesame.

One of those groups is Plains Cotton Growers, an organization based in Texas where the downturn in the cotton markets has hit farmers particularly hard because they don’t have a crop that can provide an economic alternative to cotton.

“We continue to believe the current farm bill allows for this authority for USDA, and many Members of Congress share that belief," PCG President Shawn Holladay said. "This designation would be a tremendous boost for cotton growers across the Cotton Belt who are struggling with low prices, high input costs, weak demand, and growing competition.”

Media outlets were reporting Vilsack said he did not have the authority to make the oilseed designation following a speech to the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture. The NASDA has been meeting in Washington most of this week.

The reports quoted Vilsack as saying Congress would need to find $1 billion in offsets for making cottonseed a program crop. The 2014 farm bill says USDA can provide Agricultural Risk Coverage and Price Loss Coverage payments when they are triggered for soybeans, canola, … and “other oilseeds.”