West Texas cotton producers working to keep heads above water amidst trade war get help from Federal program

Updated: Dec. 3, 2019 at 9:33 PM CST
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - West Texas cotton producers have suffered this season while waiting for a trade agreement to be made between the U.S. and China.

In the meantime, the U.S. government has implemented an MFP, or market facilitation program, to provide assistance to farmers that have been prevented from exporting their crops due to foreign tariffs.

Ricky Yantis is a cotton farmer in Littlefield, he said this year has been difficult for many reasons including the high cost of irrigation and chemicals, the weather, but also because of the ongoing trade war with China.

Yantis said when the negotiations began, cotton was being traded at 78 to 80 cents a pound.

“And, today it’s trading at 63, if you can even get anybody to take it,” Yantis said.

To alleviate some of the damage, the U.S. government has stepped in, providing money to farmers based on their individual planted acres and history of yields.

“We got half up front on the first sign in and this time we received 25 percent,” Yantis said, “and depending on the markets is whether or not we’ll get the last 25 percent sometime after the first of the year.”

But, Kody Bessent, Vice President of Operations and Legislative Affairs at Plains Cotton Growers, said this program will not make a producer financially whole.

“And, we also won’t see markets rebound even if a phase one agreement is made between the U.S. and China immediately,” Bessent said.

Yantis said he thinks most farmers are in support of correcting the trade issues today in order to have better trade in the future.

“We just need a good, fair trade agreement that allows fair negotiation, fair trade and to support better prices,” Yantis said.

“It’s going to take a little bit of time to rebuild that export market with China,” Bessent said. “We didn’t get this way overnight, it’s been an ongoing issue for the last couple of years and certainly it’s not going to change overnight.”

Yantis said government payments never make you rich, they are meant to keep you in business.

For more information, go to: https://www.fsa.usda.gov/programs-and-services/market-facilitation-program/index

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