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China factor

first_imgBy Brad HaireUniversity of GeorgiaThe U.S. government said last week it would begin to set limits on how much clothing China could ship into the country. The move was praised by the U.S. textile industry. But the decision may not help U.S. cotton farmers, says a University of Georgia economist.Since the global textile quota system ended Jan. 1, U.S. imports of some Chinese-made clothes like trousers and underwear have increased more than 300 percent. In that time, 16,600 textile workers have lost jobs, and 18 U.S. mills have closed, says the National Council of Textile Organizations.The new quota will allow only a 7.5 percent increase annually for certain Chinese clothing products. The U.S. textile industry believes this will save jobs and bolster the faltering industry.But the reinstated quota has angered Chinese officials. China’s minister of commerce will protest the decision, according to a May 18 report by the official Chinese press agency.Big buyerIt’s unclear how the reimposed quotas will affect U.S. cotton farmers, said Don Shurley, a cotton economist with the UGA Extension Service. But one thing is clear: U.S. cotton farmers need China to buy their cotton.Farmers will be hurt, he said, if China decides not to buy U.S. cotton, either to retaliate against the quotas or if it doesn’t need as much cotton to make clothes.The United States produced 23 million bales of cotton last year. (A bale is about 480 pounds of fiber.) It was a record crop. The nation usually grows 19 million to 20 million bales annually. Of that, 13 million to 14 million bales must be bought by other countries.”We’re not going to get rid of that much cotton without China,” Shurley said.There are fewer U.S. textile mills. In 1997, U.S. mills used 11.3 million bales of U.S.-grown cotton, Shurley said. This year, they’re expected to use 5.8 million bales.China has bought a lot of U.S. cotton in recent years. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Chinese are expected to buy 8 million bales of foreign cotton this year. The United States typically supplies half of that. China has bought 3 million bales so far this year.China hasn’t threatened to stop buying U.S. cotton. But any cut in the country’s purchase of U.S. cotton will affect prices, Shurley said.The world has a surplus of cotton. Farmers worldwide grew 114 million bales last year. Of that, only 103 million bales were used.”China can get its cotton from other places,” he said.Shrinking industryA healthy U.S. textile industry helps U.S. farmers, too. By creating a demand for their cotton closer to home, they’re less dependent on foreign buyers.”But a small increase in use by the U.S. textile industry won’t immediately help U.S. cotton farmers sell their cotton,” Shurley said.U.S. textile mills have closed for several reasons in recent years, Shurley said. But increased competition by foreign mills and increased imports of finished clothing products have greatly contributed.Cool, wet spring weather kept many Georgia farmers out of their fields and delayed cotton planting, said Steve Brown, a UGA Extension Service cotton agronomist. Warm, dry weather in May, though, has helped them catch up.As of May 15, the Georgia Agricultural Statistics Service reported that only 38 percent of the crop had been planted. Only 19 percent had been planted a week earlier. Half the crop is usually planted by this time.”It’s too early to say how the crop will turn out this year,” Brown said. “A lot can happen between now and harvest.”last_img read more

Pennsylvania Applauds Bi-Partisan Approval of Federal Farm Bill

first_img Bill Signing,  Economy,  National Issues,  Press Release,  Public Health Harrisburg, PA – Governor Tom Wolf and Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding today commended the U.S. House and Senate for approving the federal Farm Bill, legislation that provides funding and guidelines for farm and food programs in the United States.“The Farm Bill is critical to ensuring that the agriculture industry and all who depend on it have access to the programs, supports, and services needed to continue operations,” said Governor Wolf. “Provisions that will protect our workforce, expand our opportunities, and preserve our industry are welcomed and appreciated. My administration has made significant investments in agriculture, and Pennsylvania is primed to capitalize on those investments. The addition of the passage of this legislation will further position us for future success.”The legislation contains a number of positive aspects for Pennsylvania agriculture. Two provisions are particularly notable. The first strengthens support for dairy farmers by offering reduced premiums and new coverage levels for milk produced under the new Dairy Risk Management program. The second removes hemp as a schedule 1 drug under federal law, allowing states to create programs for the cultivation of hemp for commercial purposes.“Support for Pennsylvania’s farmers – whether dairy, organic, or vegetable – is made readily available in the approved Farm Bill,” said Sec. Redding. “What’s more, the provisions found within the bill also include support for low-income Pennsylvanians, consumers, the environment, and our communities.”Redding also praised aspects of the final bill related to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which maintains current requirements for recipients, and includes language that would provide permanent funding of programs that support farmers markets and organic farmers. He also applauded increases in funding for conservation efforts and workforce and education opportunities, and continued support for programs that help rural communities and businesses thrive, including broadband access and local food systems. Additionally, the legislation includes protections for crop insurance, helping farmers purchase policies to protect them from devastating weather conditions. The Farm Bill also includes a significant increase in federal funding for farmland preservation nationwide through the federal Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP), with Pennsylvania poised to access these funds over the next four years.Finally, the bill includes $20 million for a Farm-to-Food Bank program modeled after Pennsylvania’s successful Pennsylvania Agricultural Surplus System (PASS). This program provides an efficient mechanism for the agricultural industry to donate safe, wholesome food products while being reimbursed for the costs involved in harvesting, processing, packaging, and transportation.Over the past four years, the Wolf Administration has invested more than $50 million in agriculture-related economic development projects; increased support for workforce development and agricultural education to help prepare students and workers for the thousands of anticipated job openings in the industry over the next decade; and signed historic legislation that has created new markets for farmers and lowered their tax burdens. The administration is working to expand broadband access to hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians, creating jobs while improving infrastructure statewide, especially in rural communities.Learn more about Pennsylvania’s strategies and investments in growing the agriculture and food industry at agriculture.pa.gov. Pennsylvania Applauds Bi-Partisan Approval of Federal Farm Bill SHARE Email Facebook Twittercenter_img December 13, 2018last_img read more