Being in the ginning business, and a long-time grower, made cutting cotton acreage in half especially tough for Stantonsburg, N.C. grower Audie Murphy, but the decision, he says was dictated by doubts in cotton pricing and government support.

“It’s a scary situation for growers when China owns over half the cotton grown in the world. One change in policy and we could be looking at 60 cents a pound cotton,” Murphy says.

Like most folks in the cotton growing business, he says prices in the 60 cent range per acre aren’t enough to sustain production.

Some cotton marketing experts contend world cotton prices below 70-75 cents a pound would allow Chinese mills to buy cotton cheaper than they can buy from their own surplus. Thus, there is an economic incentive for China to keep cotton prices well above the 66 cents a pound that was being offered last fall.

The North Carolina grower says what the Chinese may or may not do isn’t a good way to write a business plan for a large farming operation.

Government support continues to dwindle for cotton farmers, and the lack of a farm bill is evidence that the U.S. Congress doesn’t have much sympathy for the plight of American farmers.

Unfortunately, that reality has only gotten worse since Murphy and many other North Carolina farmers decided to further cut cotton acreage last fall by planting wheat, destined to be double-cropped with soybeans this spring and summer.