Last week, a group of over 30 cotton growers and ginners from the Southeast made a trip to Washington, DC to speak to our representatives about a number of topics facing our industry. The group consisting of from 2 to 9 from each of the six southeastern states visited most of the offices of the Senators and Representatives from their respective states. While a few of the visits were with staffers alone, many of the Congressmen and women met with the groups.
The group wanted to relay our appreciation to Congress regarding inclusion in the last year of the 2014 Farm Bill and passage of the 2018 Farm Bill on time and in the process giving cotton the safety net we’ve been missing for some time. Other issues that were on the front of everyone’s mind was Disaster Assistance stemming from the two hurricanes that affected our region last year. Additionally, stabilizing trade and encouraging the President to finalize a trade deal with China were issues that had long term effects.
As far as the Disaster package goes the Southeastern delegation is quite vocal in their support. The Senate may bring the package to the floor next week. What that final bill looks like will determine if and how quickly it moves through the House. Look for news on this toward the middle part of next week. Both House and Senate members expressed the desire to get something done before Easter.
Trade is in the hands of the President and the USTR at this point. The US Trade Representative has a very full plate at the moment and not a lot of time to get stuff done. Not only is there finalization of a China agreement but the replacement for NAFTA , the US Mexico Canada agreement or USMCA is in the final stages of negotiation for ratification. USTR Lighthizer is also beginning negotiations with the EU and England in light of an expected Brexit deal at some point soon and other bi-lateral negotiations. The USTR office is stretched to say the least.
In addition some of our delegation met with a handful of freshmen Ag Committee members to welcome them and give them a brief overview of our most pressing issues. In all, the group felt like most of the visits with our representatives in Washington went well and were encouraged by the trip.
Southern Cotton Growers takes these trips a couple times a year and Southeastern Cotton Ginners often brings some members along to add to the Southern Southeastern unified message.