Plains Cotton Growers, Inc., President Johnie Reed and Executive Vice President Steve Verett, in separate annual meeting presentations last week, said the cotton industry will need to be unified to get back into the farm bill as a Title I commodity.
“We worked hard to get cotton considered an ‘other oilseed’ last year,” Reed said during his presentation to the 60th PCG annual meeting. “We did not get it done last year, but we did get a short-term benefit with cost share on ginning expense,” he said. “We have to be unified as an industry.”
Verett closed the meeting by encouraging everyone in the PCG region to be more involved. “This room should be filled today,” he said. “We are doing important things, so we need you to talk to your fellow gin managers. We need your participation.”
Verett said folks find it easy to complain about why things don’t get done, but he praised PCG volunteers who “give direction to our association.”
“We have delegates to the National Cotton Council,” Reed added. “They are our voice, so make certain they are active.”
“I am proud of the coalition building we do,” Verett said. “As the largest cotton organization in Texas, PCG assumes a lot of responsibility. We are fortunate to have the critical mass of cotton acres to have a professional staff and be well funded to work with other organizations such as wheat, corn, peanuts, and sorghum.
“The more you do,” he said, “the more people expect. And that’s OK. We work with coalitions with all groups because that’s the only way we can be successful.”
He credits a lot of PCG success to “a dedicated staff. For them, it’s not just a job, it’s a way of life.”
He added that PCG “volunteers are the heartbeat of the organization. We need producers who are willing to play these critical roles. We are looking for a new generation of volunteers and for others who will take on extra duties at the farm or the gin to make certain new volunteers have the time to serve.
“We want to continue to be the organization people look to when they talk about cotton.”
He said PCG doesn’t look “for charitable donations” from the gins that support the organization. “We are looking for investments, and we can’t succeed without their support.”
Kody Bessent, PCG vice president of operations and legislative affairs, provided an update on the Plains Cotton Growers political action committee, created a year ago to help promote the region’s cotton interests in Congress. Bessent spelled out the challenge: “Only 198 congressional districts are tied to cotton. It takes 218 votes to pass legislation. The PAC is reaching out to districts other than those in cotton production areas.”
He echoed Verett and Reed in their assertions that agriculture will need to present a unified front to achieve the best farm bill possible. “We will work with the National Cotton Council, sugar, USA Rice sorghum, Western Peanut, and other organizations to advocate for agriculture. We have to combat adversaries who are well-funded.”
Verett praised House Agriculture Committee Chairman Mike Conaway, R-Texas, (Conaway spoke earlier, http://bit.ly/2o9jXVR ) for his support of cotton. “We are fortunate to have him serving on our behalf.”
He said PCG hopes to get cotton back into the farm bill sooner rather than later. “We are hopeful that we will be successful in getting cotton into Title I before the next farm bill,” he said.