High Plains farmers are seeking state and federal officials for a greater financial safety net before another drought-plagued planting season.
Farmers from the 41-county High Plains area, including Lubbock, are complaining to politicians in Austin and Washington, D.C. The producers hope the Texas Legislature will use American Rescue Plan Act funding for a one-time award before the conclusion of the legislative session later this month and that Congress would strengthen disaster relief in the Farm Bill, a must-pass bill.
Climate-related calamities are threatening farmers across. Last year's drought cost Texas High Plains cotton growers almost $2 billion. Inflation is raising fertilizer, equipment, and seed prices as farmers have less money.
Texas has 56% of the nation's cotton acres, while the High Plains area produces 30% of the nation's cotton and cottonseed. However, ongoing financial issues are making producers question how they can keep increasing it.
Lamesa's fourth-generation cotton farmer Shawn Holladay told Washington's House Committee on Agriculture that the 2018 Farm Bill worked well but needed adjustments.
“Additional funding is needed to address challenges on the farm and throughout the supply chain,” said National Cotton Council chair Holladay.
The massive Farm Bill governs agricultural and food programs including federal crop insurance and SNAP (food stamps). The 2018 Farm Bill, renewed every five years, cost $428 billion. The first trillion-dollar agriculture bill may pass this year. SNAP will receive 81% of $1.51 trillion in expenditures.
Agriculture activists want to increase ad hoc disaster aid, which was created to help farmers recover from bad years. Ad-hoc aid is temporary. Congress has authorized almost $15 billion in funding since 2018. Farmers must apply for it after every calamity and may not get the amount they need.
Lubbock-based Texas Agriculture Council chair David Gibson produces corn. Corn output was down statewide last year.
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