The insurance-like cotton subsidy program of the 2014 farm law is a failure, U.S. lawmakers, lenders and cotton groups said in four coordinated letters to President Trump. They asked him to keep in operation the cotton ginning cost-share program created as a one-time, $300 million payment last year. In a show of support, letters were sent by 109 representatives, 26 senators, 82 cotton groups and 1,600 lenders and rural businesses.
The USDA is prevented by statute from creating a subsidy program, potentially costing $1 billion a year, for cottonseed, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in an essay in Farm Journal. Congress, he says, needs to change the law.
The cotton industry and a leading ally on Capitol Hill are pressing to make cottonseed eligible for crop subsidies despite the USDA's conclusion that it lacks the authority to do so. Payments could total $1 billion a year, according to an estimate by university economists.
The cotton industry request for USDA to make cottonseed eligible for subsidy as an oilseed raises several policy questions including where to find the $1 billion a year that the program would cost, say four economists. Market prices are so low that payments are certain if Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack approves the request to declare cottonseed an "other oilseed" covered by the subsidies offered to grain and soybean growers.
The largest U.S. farm group supports voluntary rather than mandatory nationwide labeling of GMO foods, said Zippy Duvall, shortly after his election as president of the American Farm Bureau Federation.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said he is looking at every factor, including trade rules and budgetary effects, in the cotton industry's request that he declare cottonseed oil eligible for the same subsidies offered to grains and soybeans.