Early response to the Senate farm bill has been mostly positive as farm organizations weigh in on the bipartisan proposal passed out of the commends Senate Agriculture Committee today.

“The newly passed Senate bill is similar to what they passed last year, except this version provides the option for both price loss protection and revenue for all crops except cotton, which is important to many of the other Southern crops,” Says Steve Verett, executive vice president, Plains Cotton Growers, Inc., Lubbock. “For cotton, it's the same provisions as last year –the Stacked Income Protection Plan (STAX) without a reference price.

“The House Ag Committee mark, as last year, provides price loss protection as well as revenue as a choice for all crops except cotton, and with higher levels of price loss protection than the Senate bill,” he adds. “The House STAX provision, like the Senate bill, does not include a reference price. However, an additional feature on the House STAX provision is two years of a totally decoupled transition payment while STAX is being implemented, a feature that we strongly support. This will ensure that our cotton producers are protected while those who will administer the STAX program make their final preparations for this new risk management strategy.”

Verett says farmers need the assurance that a five-year farm bill provides. “Crafting a five-year farm bill that meets the needs of all of our agricultural producers nationwide certainly is not an easy task, and we commend both the Senate Ag Committee and the House Ag Committee for the tremendous amount of time and effort they have spent in developing a farm bill that is fiscally responsible, equitable, and effective. We look forward to continuing this momentum and urge Congress to act quickly and get this vital piece of legislation passed.”

The National Cotton Council (NCC) also expressed appreciation for  the work of the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition & Forestry Committee “for producing a farm bill that includes provisions supported by the cotton industry.

NCC says in addition to including significant policy reforms and cotton provisions that should resolve the longstanding Brazil World Trade Organization case, the legislation will contribute more than $18 billion to deficit reduction over the next 10 years, as estimated by the Congressional Budget Office. Counting the additional agriculture-related savings resulting from the March 1 sequester order, the total savings would be $24.4 billion over 10 years.

NCC Chairman Jimmy Dodson, a South Texas cotton producer, said, “The Committee’s efforts on this farm bill are an important step toward providing producers with critically important predictability and tools to manage risk. Producers and their lenders need sound, long-term farm programs to sustain investments and to make market oriented planting and marketing decisions. The NCC is especially pleased that the Senate Committee did not have to consider several amendments that would have seriously damaged the cotton program. Instead, they chose to include provisions to provide cotton farmers long term certainty and vital economic assistance to the U.S. textile industry. We now urge prompt consideration by the full Senate.”

Dodson said the industry will call on Cotton Belt Senators to support the Committee’s work and oppose damaging amendments when the legislation is considered by the full Senate.