Texas cotton producer Woody Anderson says Congress needs to approve a new farm bill this year and one that will provide American farmers the key to long-term viability — effective risk management opportunities.

A former NCC chairman and current NCC Board advisor, Anderson testified at a House Committee on Agriculture farm bill hearing in Dodge City, Kan., that the high costs of seed, fertilizer, fuel and other inputs coupled with the vagaries of weather has made the risk of producing a crop never greater.

He pointed to last season when he was unable to harvest a single acre of cotton due to the prolonged drought in his state — one the Texas Comptroller indicated has resulted in indirect and direct losses approaching $9 billion.

Anderson was one of 10 farmers to testify at the hearing, and one of two cotton farmers, the other being Dee Vaughan of Dumas, Texas.

“I also urge the committee to complete the farm bill this year — in advance of the expiration of the current legislation,” Anderson said. “We need some certainty regarding farm programs as we look at the long-term investments necessary to keep our farming operations economically viable.”

He told the panel it is important that budget constraints and farm program critics not be allowed to undermine the farm safety net’s effectiveness. He called for a range of farm programs structured to address the needs of the different commodities and production regions, saying a “one-size-fits-all farm program” cannot address the diversity of American agriculture.

Regarding the cotton program, Anderson said it is very important the new farm legislation includes the cotton industry’s proposal of a new revenue-based crop insurance product, one that will strengthen growers’ ability to manage risk.