National Cotton Council and USA Rice Federation officials conducted a series of joint farm bill education meetings in the Mid-South in recent days. The NCC’s Mark Lange kicked off the meetings with a description of the Agricultural Act of 2014 and the USA Rice Federation’s Reece Langley and Laura Echols talked about covered crops and conservation program changes.
Lange, president and CEO of the National Cotton Council, said one of the most-often-asked questions at the sessions concerns the new law’s provisions for reallocating base acres between cotton and program or covered crops. Farm Press Editor Forrest Laws covered the meetings in Indanola and in Clarksdale, Miss.
“I think most of them are really concerned about making sure they understand how they can reallocate base under covered commodities; also making sure they understand what their ability is to put a covered commodity on the generic base; and then their real concern is something we can’t answer today, and that is just exactly what will STAX cover in a county and how much is it going to cost on a per-acre basis?”
The latter will have to wait until the USDA’s Risk Management Agency or RMA issues an interim rule and a rate schedule for every cotton-producing county telling growers what the county coverage will be and what it will cost.
“That’s critical, but, of course, it applies to 2015, it doesn’t apply to 2014,” he said. “But that’s a big question growers’ minds.”
Lange, Langley and Echols went to great pains to tell growers at the meetings in Indianola and in Clarksdale, in Mississippi that they don’t have to make a decision right away; that signup for the new programs will not occur until late in 2014 and possibly into 2015.
“The RMA has a lot on their plate right now,” said Lange. “We expect they will work on the coverage and rates for STAX and SCO (the new supplemental coverage option) first and then announce other provisions as they become available.”
Lange said the NCC is planning to conduct another series of educational meetings once the RMA makes the information available about STAX and SCO coverage levels and costs and the coverage levels for the new Agricultural Risk Coverage of ARC program.