STAX will not be implemented until 2015 so cotton farmers will receive a partial direct payment in 2014. “A year ago I wouldn’t have given us any chance of getting a direct payment this year,” noted Darnielle, who served as the Council’s vice chairman in 2013.

For now, Brazil seems committed to negotiating a final settlement of the WTO case, in which Brazil’s cotton farmers claimed they were harmed by the marketing loan and export credit incentive programs of previous farm bills.

“In view of the Brazilian government’s recent statement about seeking a WTO assessment of the new farm bill, we are encouraged that there appears to be a preference to resolve the case through discussions rather than retaliation,” he said. 

“The Council continues to reiterate that the STAX program was developed specifically to bring the US into compliance with the WTO decision. The changes to cotton policy are significant, and we believe they are sufficient to resolve the case.

The farm bill also includes several other crop insurance enhancements, including the Supplemental Coverage Options, enterprise unit pricing by practice and others. “It will be important to note that the producers of other program crops will have critical one-time decisions to make on several program options—including what type of income support program and whether or not to update yields and bases.”

WTO meetings

Leading up to December’s WTO Ministerial in Indonesia, he said, the Council participated in a number of meetings in Geneva that were in conjunction with the annual WTO Cotton Development Assessment. 

“During these meetings, we had the opportunity to highlight the drastic changes in the cotton market over the past five years. During the Council’s meeting with the chairman of the WTO agriculture negotiations, we underscored the importance of the proposed changes in U.S. cotton policy and emphasized that this reduction in support should be recognized in the WTO.

“We also got to tell the WTO officials that cotton growers all over the world share the same goal,” he said. “We shouldn’t be fighting each other; we should realize our big problem is synthetic fibers taking our market share.”