WASHINGTON, DC –Over 100 Members of Congress including many members of the House Committee on Agriculture, including Rep. Rick Allen (R-Ga.-12), joined Chairman Mike Conaway of Texas, on a letter to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (UDSA) Secretary Tom Vilsack seeking assistance for American cotton farmers and communities that rely heavily on the cotton industry to designate cottonseed as ‘other oilseed’. This designation, in accordance with the 2014 Farm Bill, could allow cotton farmers, if fully implemented, access to farm programs like Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) or Price Loss Coverage (PLC). Media reports have recently indicated Secretary Vilsack will deny the request from over 100 Members of Congress. Rep. Allen issued the following statement in response:
“Agriculture is Georgia’s number one industry, and our number one economic driver. Cotton is a major factor in Georgia’s Ag economy and is a way of life for many in my district. Foreign countries like China and India have gravely affected the global cotton market—passing subsidies to their farmers while stockpiling cotton, driving up supply and decreasing global prices.
These actions simply aren’t fair and we must ensure American farmers can compete. The American cotton industry is struggling and does not have any tools to help cope with devastatingly low prices. Designating cottonseed as an ‘other oilseed’ would be a great first step to putting cotton farmers back on a level playing field.
As I await an official response from Secretary Vilsack, I urge him to look at the damage being done to cotton country. While he may question the intent of Congress, the many signatures prove strong Congressional support and intent, including those of the lead author and many conferees of the 2014 Farm Bill. The current cotton crisis deserves immediate action. These farmers are the backbone of the state of Georgia and the United States.”