Earlier today US Dept of Agriculture Secretary Vilsack told the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) that he doesn’t have the authority to declare cottonseed as an “other oilseed” under the terms of the Farm Bill. Many reports on the Internet can be found with details on his comments and the comments of others on the subject.
This is obviously a disappointment for so many who have worked so hard on the issue. This is a blow to the industry and many of the leadership in the House, including Ag Committee Chair Conoway disagree with the Secretary’s determination. Unfortunately, without the Secretary’s support the declaration won’t even be made to test the authority.
One of the concerns is obviously the cost of the program which the Secretary put at over a Billion dollars but it is upsetting that the Secretary didn’t even attempt to work with the industry to curtail the cost or find offsets. Without opening the Farm Bill, there is no way to force his hand at this point it seems. There is no desire by ANYONE to open the Farm Bill before it expires.
This will be an issue that will be ongoing I’m sure so stay tuned. This won’t be the last you will hear of cottonseed assistance moving forward.