New federal program offers assistance to cotton farmers - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

New federal program offers assistance to cotton farmers

A new federal program will bring nearly $21 million into Georgia's agricultural economy. (Source: WALB A new federal program will bring nearly $21 million into Georgia's agricultural economy. (Source: WALB
For a second time, the USDA will offer cost-share assistance payments to cotton farmers. (Source: WALB) For a second time, the USDA will offer cost-share assistance payments to cotton farmers. (Source: WALB)
Cotton Farmer, Jimmy Webb (Source: WALB) Cotton Farmer, Jimmy Webb (Source: WALB)
Georgia Cotton Commission Director of Public Affairs, Taylor Sills (Source: WALB) Georgia Cotton Commission Director of Public Affairs, Taylor Sills (Source: WALB)
ALBANY, GA (WALB) -

A new federal program will bring nearly $21 million into Georgia's agricultural economy. 

For a second time, the USDA will offer cost-share assistance payments to cotton farmers. 

Unlike other producers, cotton farmers didn't have the protection of the farm bill when it was initially introduced back in 2014 so they were susceptible to fluctuating prices.

"I'm sure it just goes back into everybody's operating line of credit. Takes a lot of money to grow a crop and every little bit helps," explained cotton farmer, Jimmy Webb.

Although the cotton process has risen, producers are still feeling the impact of low prices in the past. 

"It's kind of like a band band-aid on a bigger problem," added Webb.

It's called the cotton ginning cost-share program, offering $23.21 per acre to all cotton producers with cost-share payments to offset their 2016 costs.

Webb said it helps but doesn't come close to the $500 he may put into one acre. 

"Cotton didn't have a safety net in the last farm bill and when prices got low it was tough," remarked Webb.

The farm bill offers protections for many different crops across the nation. 

"It's really a way to stabilize the American economy," explained Georgia Cotton Commission Director of Public Affairs Taylor Sills. 

With more than 3,000 cotton farmers, and as the second biggest cotton-producing state behind Texas, some said being excluded from the bill it was a big mistake. 

"I have lots of friends in Texas, that's all they grow is cotton and with no program, it's been really tough," added Webb. 

But as a peanut and corn producer, Webb was prepared for the market fluctuations. 

"We're fortunate we have other crops we can grow," explained Webb. 

With cotton producers added back into the farm bill, it would bring back the protections for growers on and off the farm. 

"This money will go to help farmers who've been struggling with depressed commodity markets as well as those safety net protections in the farm bill," added Sills. 

Cotton farmers who want to sign up for the USDA cotton ginning cost-share program can do starting on Monday, March 12th through May 11. 

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