LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - District 19 Congressman Jodey Arrington said a solution is underway to put cotton back in the safety net of the farm bill.
Arrington said he worked with Chairman Mike Conaway and the leadership in the House of Representatives to include cotton on the supplemental appropriations bill, something they voted on during the last day of the session in December.
"It is a budget-neutral fix. That is, we do not need to spend anymore taxpayer money to solve the problem," Arrington said.
If it passes, funding will be in place for the next farm bill.
The house tried to pass this legislation earlier this year, but it did not make it past the senate.
Arrington is hopeful this time will be different.
He said this bill includes risk management coverage, for the first time in history, for both the seed and lint.
Cotton was the only commodity removed from the farm bill in 2014.
Arrington said we have seen repeated economic blows to cotton since then.
"We've seen the steepest decline over the last three years in farm income since the Great Depression. We have China and others engaged in market manipulation like dumping cotton on the market and mass subsidization of their cotton farmers and the cotton industry," Arrington said.
West Texas, which was once the epicenter of cotton, is no longer the greatest producer of cotton; China has taken that title.
"We have a crisis, a real economic crisis," Arrington said.
He said if we lose cotton farmers like we have lost some of the textile mills and ginning infrastructures, "we can't get this thing back."
"It represents billions of dollars to not just West Texas, but to the State of Texas and the economy as a whole," Arrington said. "It's life or death for West Texas."
Arrington said the advantage of having the cotton fix come out of the emergency supplemental, is the timing. It would be effective immediately for the 2018 season. He said if they wait and apply cotton to the farm bill, then it would not apply until the 2019 season.
"Our farmers have burned through their equity. This year, the price of the seed won't even cover the marketing cost," Arrington said.
Arrington said this is now in the senate, and he has had conversations with Senators Cornyn and Cruz as well as Governor Abbott to push this through.