Politics

Boozman and Warner Lead Effort to Urge USDA to Assist Cotton Industry in Wake of Coronavirus

WASHINGTON–As the coronavirus continues to take an economic toll on agriculture producers, U.S. senators from both parties have come together to encourage the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to work with the cotton industry so that needed aid can be delivered in a timely manner.

A letter from 21 senators to USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue—led by Sens. John Boozman (R-AR) and Mark Warner (D-VA)— noted that while all sectors of the agricultural economy have been impacted by this public health crisis, the U.S. cotton industry has been particularly hard hit during this time, making the need for assistance all the more urgent.

“Since the beginning of 2020, cotton futures prices have declined 30 percent. As retail stores around the globe have shuttered, orders from U.S. textile mills have dropped as much as 90 percent in the last month. Cotton merchandisers and distributors are also facing additional costs for storage, interest, and other carrying costs as worldwide demand is significantly depressed,” the senators wrote.

The senators encouraged USDA to work with the industry to craft policies that will aid each segment of the cotton industry.

“We understand the cotton industry has reached consensus on a package of recommendations to assist all segments of the industry. We encourage you to work with the industry, so that needed aid can be delivered in a timely manner. In responding to the current crisis, Congress and the Administration have acted swiftly to assist the people of our country during this time. We ask that you use that same approach to ensure that this critical industry represented throughout our states receives the necessary assistance,” they wrote. 

Sens. Tom Cotton (R-AR), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Doug Jones (D-AL), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), John Cornyn (R-TX), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Jim Inhofe (R-OK), Martha McSally (R-AZ), Jerry Moran (R-KS), John Kennedy (R-LA), Kelly Loeffler (R-GA), Roger Wicker (R-MS), Richard Burr (R-NC), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Tim Scott (R-SC) and Josh Hawley (R-MO) signed the letter Boozman and Warner authored.

The full letter is available below.

Dear Secretary Perdue:

We write today concerning the ongoing public health crisis caused by the spread of COVID-19 and its impact on the agricultural industry. We appreciate all the work USDA is doing to ensure farmers, ranchers, and the entire food and agricultural industry can continue to operate during this uncertain time. As you know, American agriculture has suffered greatly in recent years, and the economic strain from the COVID-19 pandemic has presented further challenges for our producers. While all sectors of the agricultural economy have been impacted by this public health crisis, the U.S. cotton industry been particularly hard hit during this time. 

Since the beginning of 2020, cotton futures prices have declined 30 percent. As retail stores around the globe have shuttered, orders from U.S. textile mills have dropped as much as 90 percent in the last month. Cotton merchandisers and distributors are also facing additional costs for storage, interest, and other carrying costs as worldwide demand is significantly depressed. Cottonseed, a majority of which is used as a feed ration for dairy and beef cattle, is in a tenuous situation as its main customers – dairy and beef cattle producers– are also facing severe economic losses because of the ongoing public health crisis. 

We understand the cotton industry has reached consensus on a package of recommendations to assist all segments of the industry. We encourage you to work with the industry, so that needed aid can be delivered in a timely manner. In responding to the current crisis, Congress and the Administration have acted swiftly to assist the people of our country during this time. We ask that you use that same approach to ensure that this critical industry represented throughout our states receives the necessary assistance.

Thank you for your ongoing efforts to provide relief, and we look forward to working with you in this regard. 

Sincerely,

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