During the Tuesday delegate session at the annual meeting of American Farm Bureau Federation, the issue of designating cottonseed as an oilseed to make it eligible for farm program payments sparked debate, mainly between cotton growers and some in the Midwest. The delegates did vote in favor of new language in Farm Bureau policy to support those designation efforts.
“Currently the lint or the fiber of the cotton is much less valuable than what the cottonseed is,” explained Kendell Culp from Jasper County, Indiana Farm Bureau’s new vice president. “So they’re trying to get some program dollars available for the cottonseed, which from a typical Midwestern farmer you would think normally we would be opposed to that because unless there’s more dollars appropriated it will take dollars away from the other program crops such as corn.”
But Culp’s approach was to look at the issue from a variety of angles.
“It was a rather close vote as far as the amendment, but what I looked at and what I told my members, is there’s the dollar aspect, the WTO concern is, is that going to be eligible in the amber box, but the main thing was if the south loses those cotton acres they’re more likely to be planted to soybeans. That will have an effect on Midwest grain producers.”
Culp told HAT he also agreed with the argument that Farm Bureau, as a general farm organization, needs to look at agriculture as an industry rather than cotton as a specific commodity.
“If you want to look at it from a specific commodity, no you wouldn’t be supportive of that, but I think we have to support things and look at the big picture. I am aware that the American Soybean Association discussed it at their December meeting and it came down to we’re all part of an industry and there aren’t very many strictly soybean producers in the United States. Most all farmers grow something other than soybeans, and so we need to look beyond just the one industry. We need to look at the big picture, and I think that philosophy was shown out here today as well.”
Those from the Midwest are also concerned about the language of support for the oilseed designation helping to reopen the farm bill.
Hear more from Culp in the HAT interview:Kendall Culp at AFBF16