As lawmakers wrestle with what programs to build the next farm bill around, it can’t be said enough: what works best in the Midwest farm country doesn’t necessarily work best in the South.

On Tuesday, Ted Schneider, president of the Louisiana Cotton and Grain Association, spoke with Farm Press about that, current planting conditions, crop insurance, farm-country bankers, and the soon-to-arrive “Tier 4” diesel engines. Among his comments:

On current conditions and the planting season…

“The planting season has been very wet – especially in my area of northeast Louisiana. Between I-20 and McGehee, Ark., it’s been wet and is again, today.

“I think soybean planting is around 15 to 20 percent complete. Cotton may be at 10 percent complete. On my farm, we ended up 300 acres short of the corn I intended to plant. That was strictly due to wet weather and is a common story in the area.”

On the wide swings in weather in the last few years…

“The only uniform thing about the weather has been the lack of uniformity.

“At this time last year we were already contemplating starting to irrigate. Now, it’s the complete opposite – we’re trying to get water off the fields.

“In the last few years, we’ve been struggling with water one way or the other. We’re either trying to get it off or trying to put it on.

“Things just aren’t ‘normal’ with the weather anymore. And you can’t really define ‘normal.’”

On some key issues for Mid-South cotton farmers…

“No one knows what’s coming and there’s a lot of concern out there.

“With past farm bills, we’ve always compromised and worked things out in a manner that produced legislation that worked for everybody. Now, we’re in such uncertain times with a lot less money and we’ll be looking at a farm bill that is radically different than what we’re used to.

“It seems like commodity groups, instead of working together, have all come up with different proposals (for the new farm bill) that benefit that specific commodity. That’s what they’re pushing for and there doesn’t seem to be a lot of discussion amongst the different groups to see what works best for everybody.

“So, we’re heading into a farm bill with a lot of regional differences, a lot of differences among crops, and a lot of regional differences amongst those growing the same crop. That isn’t good. What works for west Texas doesn’t necessarily work in the Mid-South.

“With all due respect to the current Senate Agriculture Committee (leaders) – who I’ve met and they seem receptive and somewhat sympathetic to what we have to say -- I think as far as rice and cotton go, we lost a real ally in (Arkansas) Sen. Blanche Lincoln.

“Right now, the Senate Agriculture Committee only has four members, all Republicans, who have cotton and rice in their districts. We've lost a lot of representation and clout as the Senate is majority Democrat.”

On the National Cotton Council’s proposed Stacked Income Protection Plan (STAX) program…

“It will work well if you grow cotton. For cotton growers, it’s the best proposal being floated and we support it.”

For more on STAX, see here.