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Area cotton farmers struggle under low prices

Published: Mar. 3, 2016 at 11:48 PM CST|Updated: Mar. 9, 2016 at 5:01 PM CST
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LUBBOCK COUNTY, TX (KCBD) - The low price of cotton has many West Texas Cotton farmers very worried right now.

Normally, a provision in the Farm Bill would help supplement their income but not anymore.

Instead, cotton growers now only have a crop insurance program called STAX, but the shortcomings of that crop insurance is that it cannot do anything to protect farmers during extended periods of low prices, which is what we're in.

Garron Morgan is a cotton producer in Lamesa and says the industry is suffering.

"A lot of farmers are experiencing a downward turn," he said. "One farmer I talked to says they're struggling to break even he says he doesn't personally know anyone who made a profit in the last two years."

He says he has only been farming for five years and that the last two years should have been amazing.

"We set records as far as the dry land crop goes and we still didn't make money," he said. "A lot of guys lost money. A few years back when the price was just a little bit higher than what it is now with some of the safety nets that we had in place we could still, with lower than average yields, we could still make some things work. We got crop insurance as our only safety net, but with low prices, crop insurance doesn't even come close to covering operating needs in the event of a disaster."
 
He says it is hard to get started as a young producer because of the tremendous investment costs, soaring input costs and resistant weeds. He says it leaves them unable to build equity and capital to borrow against.

Steve Verett is the Executive Vice President of Plains Cotton growers, a commodity trade association which is currently lobbying on behalf of cotton producers in the 41 counties here in Lubbock.

"Practically every farmer out here right now is struggling," Verett said. "If they didn't make an exceptional yield this year, I know of no strictly cotton farming operation that were able to eek out much if any profit."

Morgan says he looks to the future with hope.

"I'm proud to be a cotton farmer I'm proud to say that I live in West Texas," Morgan said. "The ultimate goal for me would be, number one to stay in business but number two to have something to leave to my children and a legacy to pass down. In the next five years we just hope to still be here."

Organizations like Plains Cotton Growers have worked tirelessly for the last eight months to get cotton back into title one and give producers here some relief.

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