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Arkansas House Members Urge Cottonseed Eligibility

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Washington, February 4, 2016 | comments

After reports that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) plans to deny urgently needed assistance to American cotton farmers and rural communities that depend on our domestic cotton industry, Representative Rick Crawford (AR-1), the Subcommittee Chairman for General Farm Commodities and Risk Management, along with Rep. French Hill (AR-2), Rep. Steve Womack (AR-3), and Rep. Bruce Westerman (AR-4) issued the following statement:

"On December 15th of last year, a rare coalition of rural and urban Democrats and Republicans from inside and outside of cotton country came together for a common purpose. More than 100 of these Members requested in a letter that the Secretary of Agriculture use his authority to allow cottonseed to be eligible for commodity programs under the Farm Bill. Our letter has yet to receive a response, but yesterday, we learned that the Secretary declined to help our cotton producers, who are currently challenged by severely depressed market conditions in the face of unfair foreign competition. The seriousness of the situation calls for the immediate action of the USDA, which must show the same concern for our producers all around the country, regardless of what they raise. The livelihoods of American families depend on it."

In December 2015, cotton producers and House lawmakers encouraged Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to add cottonseed as an “other oilseed." Language in the 2014 Farm Bill allows the Secretary of Agriculture to designate “other oilseeds” that qualify for Farm Bill commodity programs. More than 100 Members of the U.S. House of Representatives sent this letter the Secretary and did not receive a response. Congressmen Rick Crawford, French Hill, Steve Womack, and Bruce Westerman each signed the letter. In a speech on February 3rd, 2016, Secretary Vilsack announced that the USDA would not declare cottonseed an oilseed.

Congressman Steve Womack has represented Arkansas’s Third Congressional District since 2011 and serves on the House Appropriations Defense, Financial Services and General Government, and Labor-Health and Human Services subcommittees and the House Committee on the Budget.

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