AUSTIN – In response to volatile market conditions that threaten the livelihoods of Texas cotton producers, Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller today sent a letter urging U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack to designate cottonseed oil as an ‘other oilseed’ under the Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC) programs. This designation would help bring long-term stability to the cotton industry in the U.S., protect domestic jobs and safeguard this important sector of agricultural production.
“Producers in our state and across the Cotton Belt are struggling with the effects of low prices, high input costs, weak demand and growing competition from heavily subsidized foreign producers,” Commissioner Miller said. “Without some relief from this situation, our producers will not be able to secure financing or continue operations. This could have a devastating impact on families and communities in Texas.”
Texas is the top cotton producing state in the nation, contributing $2.2 billion. Texas also leads the nation in exports of cotton and cottonseed at an average of $1.6 billion annually. Cotton production supports a variety of jobs, including those at cotton gins, warehouses and associated businesses.
The ARC and PLC programs were authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill to provide risk management options for commodity producers in the event of systemic revenue or price declines due to sustained volatility in the market. The ARC program offers protection from shallow losses, while the PLC program protects against multi-year price declines. Similar designations have previously been made for other agricultural commodities to help alleviate the burdens associated with extreme market and weather conditions. Commissioner Miller is urging Secretary Vilsack to grant the same designation for cottonseed.
U.S. cotton acreage is at its lowest levels since 1983, with a 22 percent decline since 2014. Cotton exports have reached their lowest levels in 15 years.
To view Commissioner Miller’s letter to Secretary Vilsack, click here.