The American Cotton Producers (ACP), chaired by Clyde Sharp of Arizona, held its initial session of 2012 in Dallas, Texas, with a thorough review of the status of the farm bill debate, which included special emphasis on cotton policy.

Immediately preceding the meeting, the ACP Farm Policy Task Force, chaired by Shawn Holladay of Texas, discussed cotton farm policy issues and developed recommendations for the ACP’s consideration.

Following a thorough review of the farm bill debate status that focused on the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition & Forestry Committee deliberations, the ACP Farm Policy Task Force recommended continuation of strong support for 1) the Stacked Income Protection Plan (STAX) and 2) proposed changes in the cotton marketing loan program aimed at meeting budget reduction obligations and providing the best avenue to settle the WTO Brazil case.

Following additional discussion during the meeting of the full ACP, producer leaders reinforced their previous support of these proposals.

As part of the discussion within the Task Force and ACP, NCC staff reviewed various program delivery options under consideration by the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition & Forestry Committee, which is expected to mark up new farm legislation as soon as the week of April 23.

The ACP also heard a detailed report on USDA Agriculture Marketing Service’s (AMS) cotton classing operations by Cotton Program Deputy Administrator Darryl Earnest and AMS’ Robbie Seals. Earnest reported that AMS has recommended no change in the classing fees for the 2012 crop and that this recommendation is now open for public comment.

He reminded ACP members of the upcoming Universal Cotton Standards Conference to be held in 2013.

Seals reviewed details of a new billing system and the industry’s recent experience with module averaging.

The group also heard an economic update from Gary Adams, NCC’s vice-president, economics & policy analysis, and a Washington report from John Maguire, NCC’s senior vice-president, Washington operations.

In NCC Chairman Chuck Coley’s address to the group, he reviewed his recent testimony before the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition & Forestry Committee and challenged producers to continue their diligent efforts to evaluate effective cotton farm policy.

He complimented ACP Chairman Sharp and ACP Farm Policy Task Force Chairman Holladay for their leadership.

As part of the meeting, ACP members also conducted a highly successful auction for the benefit of the Committee for the Advancement of Cotton.

(For a detailed look at the STAX proposal, click here. For a review of the Brazilian situation, click here).