By Madeline Moore
On Sept. 29, 2011, West Texas agricultural leaders got to showcase and discuss issues on behalf of their respective commodities during meetings with Debbie Stabenow, Chairwoman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry. The Senator also shared information regarding current developments related to agriculture in the 112th Congress. Senator Stabenow hails from Michigan, where farmers produce more than 200 agricultural commodities, making it the second most agriculturally diverse state in the country. The reason for her trip to Texas was to learn about the three crops she knew little about: cotton, peanuts, and rice.
“Those three crops are not grown in Michigan, and I wanted to see first-hand how they are produced, processed, and marketed, and to understand their huge impact on the Texas economy,” Senator Stabenow said.
The tour of West Texas started with a luncheon hosted by PCCA. The meeting was attended by several of the region’s agricultural leaders and representatives of national organizations. The afternoon continued with an emphasis on cotton as the Vardeman family of Lubbock showed the Senator how cotton is planted, grown, and harvested.
photo by Lynette Wilson
“”On our travels throughout the day, I think Senator Stabenow gained a new appreciation for our dedication to agriculture in West Texas,” said Steve Verett, Executive Vice President of Plains Cotton Growers, Inc. “She got to see dry-land acreage that was barren due to the drought, and that hit home for her.” The farm tour was followed by a visit to Lubbock Cotton Growers Cooperative Gin (LCG) hosted by the gin’s Manager, Jerry Butman. The gin currently is the largest single-site gin in Texas.
“LCG is a perfect example of farmers’ willingness to invest money in their industry when they know they can count on sound farm policy from Washington,” said John Johnson, PCCA’s Director of Public and Legislative Affairs.
“The Senator was able to gain an understanding of the multiple stages that cotton must go through before it can even be marketed, unlike many other crops,” said Verett, “Again, that is part of the risk associated with cotton farming.”
The final stop of the day was at American Cotton Growers (ACG) in Littlefield where the Senator saw how cotton is made into denim. “Showing and explaining to Senator Stabenow the vast risks associated with cotton production and processing was an important part of her visit, and it helped justify the need for an effective safety net,” said Johnson.