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Extension Agent: New Farm Bill brings changes for farmers

By By Peter J. McGuill
Feb. 18, 2014 at midnight
Updated Feb. 17, 2014 at 8:18 p.m.

Peter McGuill

After a few years, a couple of extensions and multiple attempts to pass a new Farm Bill, the federal legislative bodies finally passed a bill that was sent to the president to sign.

With the signing of the 2014 Farm Bill by President Obama on Feb. 7, the ink was barely dry before commodity groups began working on the next phase of the process. As the United States Department of Agriculture and Risk Management Agency begin implementing the new law, others begin the education process on provisions of the new law.

Jeff Nunley, executive director of South Texas Cotton and Grain, has kept a watchful eye on the bill as he works to represent farmers in South Texas.

"Producers will be faced with a number of important and timely decisions in the 2014 Farm Bill," said Nunley. "It will be critical for producers to educate themselves on new provisions of the farm bill so they can make informed decisions."

There are significant changes to the commodity programs that provide the safety net for row crop producers that producers will need to become familiar with. Among these changes is the elimination of direct payments to farmers that have provided the bulk of the producer safety net.

Producers will have an opportunity to update their base acres, which will allow them to obtain protection on the crops that they are currently growing rather than the crops they grew in the 1980s.

In an effort to more fully describe the changes in the farm program and how it affects farmers, the National Cotton Council, in cooperation with South Texas Cotton and Grain Association, has scheduled farm bill meetings in the area to provide their members with information on the provisions of the new law.

These meetings are open to all producers, cotton industry firms and agribusinesses. The meetings are scheduled beginning in El Campo at 9 a.m. Feb. 24 at the El Campo Civic Center.

In Victoria, the meeting will be at 2 p.m. Feb. 24 at the Victoria Educational Gardens Pavilion across from the control tower at the Victoria Regional Airport.

The final meeting in the area will be at 8:30 a.m. Feb. 25 at the RMB Fairgrounds in Robstown.

"We welcome producers, agricultural lenders, crop insurance agents and others that have an interest in farm policy to join us at these meetings. We also appreciate greatly the expertise that NCC will bring to these sessions," Nunley added.Look for an announcement soon about the release of these tools.

For more information on this or other agricultural related topics, contact me at the Victoria County office of the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service at 361-575-4581 or email pjmcguill@ag.tamu.edu.

Peter J. McGuill is the Victoria County extension agent - ag and natural resources. Contact him at 361-575-4581 or pjmcguill@ag.tamu.edu.

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