Cotton ginners who suffered monetary losses in 2001 or 2002 can now begin receiving the cottonseed disaster funds authorized earlier this year by the Agricultural Assistance Act of 2003.

Agriculture Secretary Ann M. Veneman announced that USDA has begun releasing more than $50 million in cottonseed assistance program payments that were included in the disaster aid program.

The cottonseed disaster payments are made to cotton ginners because they usually retain proceeds from the sale of the cottonseed. Similar to prior programs, ginners agreed to share payments with the cotton producers to the extent that the low cottonseed prices were borne by the producers rather than the ginner.

“These payments, which are being made under the Agricultural Assistance Act of 2003, will directly benefit cotton producers,” Veneman said. “USDA is committed to providing these disaster program benefits to producers as quickly as possible.”

USDA's average payment rate is $7.75639 per ton of cottonseed on 6,439,849 tons or approximately $2.99 per average weight bale. The payment rate was based on the quantity of cottonseed that USDA estimates to have been produced from the bales and lint weight certified on the applications received from ginners.

Applications for the funds were mailed to 899 domestic cotton ginners. The Act, signed into law on Feb. 20, 2003 authorizes total disaster aid for producers suffering from natural disaster and related conditions. Key provisions reimburse producers for crop losses in either 2001 or 2002.

Under the legislation, Congress designated $250 million for the Livestock Assistance Program (LCP); $60 million for sugarcane producers; $60 million for sugar beet producers; an estimated $53 million for tobacco producers; and $50 million for the cottonseed industry.

USDA's Farm Service Agency (FSA) has developed a Web site that provides producers with one convenient location for details on new and existing FSA disaster assistance. The Web site can be accessed at http://www.usda.gov/ or at http://disaster.fsa.usda.gov/.


e-mail: dmuzzi@primediabusiness.com