WIREGRASS, AL (WSFA) - Cotton is a cash crop in the Wiregrass and changes to the Farm Bill could impact local farmers.
Seed Cotton Base is now included in the Title 1 section of the current Farm Bill. It replaces Generic Base. Cotton was left out of the Farm Bill in 2014 because of the World Trade Organization's lawsuit with Brazil. With Generic Base gone, farmers have 90 days to contact their local Farm Service Agency to determine if they need to transition to a Seed Cotton Base or a Crop Mix.
Agriculture experts say the changes are a no net cost to the taxpayer and provide federal support to farmers where there had been none.
"It's going to bring some diversification in the safety net. It will help some of the farmers financially when the cotton prices are low," said William Birdsong, Extension Specialist. "That's something we've been missing in this farm bill. By being able to do that, that's going to take some pressure off peanuts where farmers won't feel like they have to plant peanuts just to be able to find revenue to meet financial demands."
The changes are expected to not only create a financial safety net, but impact agriculture.
"If you plant peanuts year after year, your yields will go down and you'll have disease problems. With cotton being back in, hopefully it will our farmers get back in a better rotation," said Caleb Bristow, Executive Director at the Alabama Peanut Producers Association.
The Wiregrass Research and Extension Center and Alabama Peanut Producers Association are hosting info sessions to provide more information on the impact and next steps for farmers.
- Feb. 19, 9 am - 10:30 am, Wiregrass Research and Extension Center (Contact the Wiregrass Research and Extension Center if you are interested in attending this session - 334.693.3800)
- Feb. 22, 11:00 am, Ketchem's Restaurant - Hartford, 5:00 pm, Experiment Station - Headland