The hope of a new farm bill requires the support of more than just farmers and ranchers according to National Cotton Council Chairman Jimmy Dodson; it will need broad support from American consumers who will actually benefit from comprehensive agricultural legislation.

"The reason you have a farm bill is not just to help the agricultural community and rural Americans; it is really about maintaining capacity and agricultural production that will keep food and fiber prices affordable," Dodson told cotton producers in Corpus Christi during a National Cotton Foundation producer exchange program last week. "Every time the safety net works it keeps another producer in business and adds production capacity for the commodities he produces, and it drives prices down for every American."

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Dodson made a surprise visit and addressed a group of West Coast cotton producers on a tour stop of the exchange event, a program that encourages cotton producers to share information and technology with growers in other regions across the country.

Last month a group of cotton producers from the Southeast and Mid-South traveled across states to exchange information and ideas as part of the program. While western producers came to Texas this year for the annual exchange program, Southwest cotton producers visited farms and businesses in California.

The nine producers from California and Arizona traveled to Lubbock and Corpus Christi as part of the last leg of the exchange program and were touring a cotton co-op warehouse, Gulf Compress, at the Port of Corpus Christi when Dodson made the unscheduled appearance. Dodson, in addition to be being the newly elected chairman of NCC, lives and farms just southwest of Corpus Christi.

"The people who benefit the most [from a comprehensive Farm Bill] are the folks who have fixed or limited incomes, but everybody across the scale benefits because it helps to keep food prices low—lower in this country than they have been throughout the history of the world, and our fiber prices are low as well," he said.