National Cotton Council Chairman Larry McClendon commended the U.S. Senate for its decisive passage of the Food, Conservation and Energy Act of 2008 with 81 votes in favor of the bill – and urged President Bush to reconsider a veto of this important legislation.

“The House and Senate have overwhelmingly approved this farm bill, and farmers need this bill in place now,” McClendon said, “Enacting this new farm legislation will provide a predictable safety net for farmers and their lenders. Given the prevailing budget and political considerations, this is the best option available for production agriculture.”

The Arkansas producer/ginner reiterated earlier comments following the House’ May 14 approval of the bill saying that “although commodity prices are good, markets are extremely volatile and there’s never a guarantee the weather will cooperate. Farmers always will face an inordinate amount of risk, but this legislation helps mitigate that unpredictability.”

McClendon said the U.S. cotton industry “is very grateful to the Cotton Belt Senators’ and their extra effort on this farm bill development and approval process. In particular, I’d like to recognize the diligent efforts of Senator Chambliss, who served first as Senate agriculture committee chairman and then its ranking member during the lengthy process. We also appreciate the dedicated work by Senators Lincoln and Cochran who were members of the conference committee that hammered out the final agreement. Their bi-partisan effort enabled the industry’s priorities to be maintained in this new farm bill. That includes an effective safety-net; enhanced market orientation and competitiveness; assistance for domestic manufacturers and minimization of counter-productive limitations on program eligibility.”

McClendon said Americans will benefit from this legislation, which not only will provide stability to U.S. production agriculture but ensure the continuation of a safe, affordable and secure supply of food and fiber.

Assuming the President carries through on his veto threat, McClendon emphasized the importance of maintaining the momentum necessary to successfully override a veto, which requires two-thirds of those voting in each chamber to successfully override a veto.

"In my opinion, there simply isn't any other viable alternative," McClendon said.

The U.S. cotton industry provides employment for some 440,000 Americans and generates more than $120 billion in annual economic activity.

The National Cotton Council’s mission is ensuring the ability of all seven industry segments to compete effectively and profitably in the raw cotton, oilseed and U.S.-manufactured product markets at home and abroad. The Memphis-based organization brings together industry representatives from the 17 cotton-producing states to establish policies reflecting the common interests and promoting mutual benefits for its broad membership and ancillary industries.