Bob Nichols wasn’t disparaging soybeans when he referred to them as “poverty peas” in a presentation at the Cotton Competitiveness Conference sponsored by Cotton Incorporated in Raleigh, N.C. Nichols traced the recent price histories of corn, cotton and soybeans in the presentation to show how cotton is now struggling to be a competitive crop in parts of the country.
In 2008, prices for grain began to improve significantly above where they were when farmers were receiving $5 to $6 per bushel and $2.50 for corn. As the world population began demanding more grain, prices began to rise to levels not seen in the world previously. The rise altered the price/return relationship for the three crops and pushed cotton acreage down in the Delta and Southeast.
But, Nichols notes, it isn’t just a matter of rising demand for grain. “Cotton is an expensive crop to grow, and the returns for cotton have declined significantly.” That’s why, as he explains in this video, Cotton Incorporated has begun a major effort to improve cotton producers’ efficiency and to help them reduce their cost of production.