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USDA delivers short-term relief to cotton growers

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) is doling out $300 million in Federal aid to American cotton farmers, who are struggling to survive against deep foreign subsidies and the loss of their own government support. According to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, the Cotton Ginning Cost Share program will offer meaningful, timely and targeted assistance to cotton growers to help with their anticipated ginning costs and to facilitate marketing.

US cotton farmers have been under tremendous strain since lawmakers stripped them of most federal subsidies in the 2014 farm bill, a move designed to appease Brazil in trade talks. The new program doesn’t directly pay farmers based on crop production, which had put off Brazil. The fresh aid is categorised as ‘marketing assistance’ and provides 40 per cent of a farmer’s ginning costs in a one-time payment based on their 2015 acreage reported to the Farm Service Agency.

Said US Rep. Randy Neugebauer, a Republican from Lubbock that the economic challenges facing cotton producers in our area are significant, and when farmers are in trouble, the whole community is affected. Meanwhile, farmers can sign up at their local FSA offices between June 20 and Aug. 5, with payments expected to start going out in July. For farmers in Texas, the nation’s leading cotton-producing state, the payout comes to $36.97 per acre.