Cotton world shortage could be good news for South Georgia farmers - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Cotton shortage could be good for Georgia farmers

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By Jim Wallace - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) –South Georgia farmers are looking for improved prices on almost all of their crops that will be grown next year, because of a short supply of cotton. The world's supply of cotton is at it's tightest margin since 1994, and the price has increased about 20 cents per pound.  That promises good news for Georgia's economy.

Agriculture is Georgia's largest industry, but it has been beset by low commodity prices. Now supply and demand is driving up prices and competition for most South Georgia crops, giving farmers better options for next year.

Leary farmer Jimmy Webb is the second vice president of the Cotton Council International. At their national meeting last week supply stock and world use were the main topics. And the news is good for American farmers.  Webb said "I think we are in the best situation we've been in probably since 1994."

The world's cotton balance sheet shows that demand about 39 percent higher than the stocked supply.

China's growing middle class has that nation importing cotton for a change, and Pakistan's flood has destroyed more than a million bales. The trade price for cotton is at least 20 cents a pound higher than last year..as manufacturers forecast it will take at least 2 or 3 years to regrow the cotton supplies. Other commodities will have to increase prices to keep farmers growing their crop.

Webb said "Grain prices are good, soybean prices are good. Wheat prices are good. Cotton is going to have to be good enough to compete for those acres, so it's a nice position to be in for a change."

South Georgia farmers with irrigated fields expect a decent cotton crop this year, but the world market has them optimistic for improved prices again next year in most crops.

Webb said "Agriculture is the number one engine in Southwest Georgia for our economy. And most of the time if our agriculture does good, then the economy down here reflects it."

Cotton growing some rare good news during these tough economic times.

Webb says there is no doubt that Southwest Georgia is peanut country, but he says the world cotton shortage will make for better peanut prices,  as the competition for acres between crops is expected to increase next year.

South Georgia farmers will begin harvesting this cotton crop in mid November. The trading price right now is 89 cents per pound.

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