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Mad as a Wet Hen: Conservation Programs

January 6, 2010

Jimmy Webb, cotton producer and chairman of the NCC Conservation Task Force, touched on a subject that leaves some farmers “mad as a wet hen”: Conservation programs and paper work.

Jimmy Webb

Jimmy Webb, Cotton Producer and Chairman of NCC Conservation Task Force

Robbie Minnich

Robbie Minnich, Government Relations Representative, National Cotton Council of America



   As a technical service provider (TSP), working with agencies like the Natural Resources Conservation Service, or NRCS, I have endured the brunt of producer’s frustrations as they try to shuffle through a sea of paper work to apply for conservation funding. Truth be told, I have been on both sides, and have found myself frustrated at times too. But as Jimmy Webb and Robbie Minnich (also of the NCC) explained this does not have to be the case. The information for applying for these programs is readily available.

Below is information about several programs available to producers. The best way to find answers to questions is by visiting your local NRCS or FSA office. I hope the information below will help you through the application and ranking process and give you enough information to ask educated questions of your local USDA officials.

Environmental Qualities Incentive Program (EQIP)

  • Cost-share of up to 75%
  • Certain historically undeserved farmers (Limited resource farmers/ranchers, beginning farmers/ranchers, socially disadvantaged producers) may be eligible for cost-share of up to 90%
  • Payment limit : $300,000 over six years
  • Specific to state

Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP)

  • Encourages additional conservation activities and management of current conservation practices
  • Offers two different types of payment
  • Must be registered as operator in FSA records
  • Compliant with Highly Erodible Lands and Wetlands Conservation
  • Eligible land: Private working agricultural land, Agriculture Indian land, Nonindustrial private forest land
  • Ineligible land: CRP, old CSP, GRP, WRP, public lands…and a few more exceptions listed here

MANY more programs available to farmers are listed on the NRCS and FSA website. Some vary by state.

The best way to develop a conservation program that is beneficial and unique to your farming operation is by talking with employees at your local NRCS or FSA office.

Fashion Tips from Beltwide

January 5, 2010

I never imagined that I would learn about fashion at the Beltwide Cotton Conference. Don’t get me wrong, I KNOW where my clothes come from and what they are made of, but Cotton Inc. has surprised me again.   

If you are anything like me, you have seen the colorful t-shirts with the Cotton logo on the back. Everyone seems to have one. This morning, during the Cotton Production Conference at Beltwide, I learned more about Cotton Inc. whose logo is emblazoned on the back of each shirt and what they have done this past year. They are WAY more involved in the fashion world than I ever imagined.   

cotton logo

Cotton Inc.


Besides conducting ongoing research on cotton sustainability and degradability, Cotton Inc. has promoted cotton products as a more comfortable and economic choice. Cotton Inc. has also reached out to recycle cotton products, especially blue jeans. Below are the top 5 ways Cotton Inc. is challenging the public to take a second look at cotton:   

1. The Fabric of Our Lives   

There is nothing better than singing your favorite song while wearing your favorite outfit. The Fabric of Our Lives features Zooey Deschanel, Miranda Lambert and Jazmine Sullivan as they express how cotton is the fabric of their life through song. Each artist has an interactive page that lets users explore the artist’s unique styles.   

2. Cutting Cost with Cotton   

Cutting Costs offers advice on how dress for less, whether you are looking for the perfect outfit for a night on the town or back-to-school clothes for children.   

3. Storm Denim   

Storm Denim, a feature on Cutting Costs, is a water repellant technology designed to weather the storm. This segment of Cutting Cost shows how effectively it works.   

4. Cotton from Blue to Green   

From Blue to Green gained national attention when National Geographic Kids set the Guinness World Record for Most Items of Clothing Collected for Recycling in August. Over 33,000 denim items were collected and donated to Cotton Inc.’s program which recycles denim into UltraTouch, a natural cotton insulation used to restore and rebuild homes damaged by natural disasters.   

5. Cotton on Facebook   

That’s right, Cotton is now on Facebook. Cotton Inc. uses Facebook to update fans on stylish cotton items and features monthly giveaways. Cotton’s profile also features updates from The Fabric of Our Lives.   


In my research after this morning’s session, I found another website sponsored by Cotton Inc. that was not mentioned this morning. I found it absolutely hilarious… and so true. I just had to share.

A peek at the Cotton Craft Store

January 5, 2010

This morning has been a whirlwind of events; from the annual Cotton Inc. report to sessions on conservation, no topic was left untouched. 

 Between sessions, I had the pleasure of meeting an artist that draws his inspiration from cotton, farm life and nature. 

Jack C. DeLoney,  raised on a farm in Ozark, AL, was surrounded by cotton, peanuts and cows growing up. He showed an interest in painting at a young age. After graduating from Auburn University with an art degree, he worked for 15 years as a commercial artist before dedicating himself as a full-time artist.  

Jack DeLoney

Jack DeLoney of Ozark, AL


DeLoney has several paintings and prints on display at Beltwide. His work makes evident his love for rural living and farm life. 

 For more information on Jack C. DeLoney and his work visit his site at 

Also between sessions, I peeked in on other booths in the Cotton Craft Store to find many attendees of Beltwide purchasing new items that show their support for cotton. 

Jennifer Schwertner

Jennifer Schwertner of Roscoe, TX searches for the perfect cotton shirt.


Coming Soon: 

  • Cotton Inc. Update
  • Shuffling the Paper work: Cost-share Conservation Programs
  • New Developments from the Industry

Mix and Mingling with the Media

January 4, 2010

Tonight, I had the pleasure of meeting dedicated members of the media with a passion for the cotton industry. In my mingling, I discovered that cotton supporters come from many different backgrounds with very unique experiences.

For example, I chatted with Eddie Smith of Floydada, TX about his involvement with field tests on new cotton varieties.  He showed great enthusiasm for the new varieties because of the results he saw on his farm. He asserted his belief in the program because it gives researchers feedback on how proposed varieties perform in less than ideal situations.

Eddie Smith

Eddie Smith of Floydada, TX

I also got to chat with Rene Pastor of Reuters News, who gave me great insight on what it is like to cover a conference as a member of the media with a focus on commodities. It was amazing to hear how his research and writing affect the decisions of many people; from investment to planting.

Janice Person and Rene Pastor

Janice Person and Rene Pastor

Tonight was a big night; I met a lot of amazing cotton supporters. Tomorrow can only get better.

Greetings from ATL!

January 4, 2010
Greetings from Atlanta!
delta airlines

Atlanta, GA


I must confess, I am quite nervous. Not about attending the Beltwide Cotton Conferences or meeting all the wonderful folks in the agriculture industry at the conference; I am nervous about flying.

This will be my first flight and with all the recent airline threats I must admit I was quite concerned. However, after navigating through security and finding my terminal my fears began to settle. I must say Hartsfield-Jackson has the friendliest staff I have ever met (granted this IS the first airport I’ve ever traveled through!)

All that aside, I am still tremendously excited about the Beltwide Cotton Conferences. Upon further research I found another session that I am particularly interested in: New Cotton Varieties.  I look forward to learning how researchers have further improved an already amazing product. I cannot wait to learn how these varieties will benefit farmers.

So until then,

Happy Trails!

Check out Deltapine Class of 10 Cotton Varieties

Starting the New Year Off Right: Beltwide Cotton Conferences

January 3, 2010

Happy New Year!

I hope that everyone had a wonderful holiday season and is ready for the Beltwide Cotton Conferences! Beltwide will be held in New Orleans, LA, January 4-7. I am extremely excited about attending the conference as well as experiencing the culture of New Orleans again. It is one of my favorite cities!

A Little About Me:

I grew up on a peanut and cattle farm in Northwest Florida. Although not directly involved in the cotton industry, I grew to love the fluffy white substance that graced our neighbor’s farm. It was the closest thing I had to snow.

Recently, I had the opportunity to spend a few hours with a neighbor as he gathered cotton. I learned how to operate the module builder and gained a greater understanding of the enormous effort it takes to gather cotton (particularly with pending rain). As far as the cotton industry goes, those few hours spent riding the picker and packing cotton are all the experience I have.  That is why I am so excited about attending the Beltwide Cotton Conferences. I hope to glean information that I can take back to my cotton-producing neighbors. I also hope to gain more information on advancements in resistant weed management, a problem that affects many other row crops. However, I am most excited about learning about variable rate nitrogen applications, a technology that I believe will become a staple in the industry in a few short years.

It’s time to start packing my bags. I look forward to meeting each of you who plan to attend the conferences.

For those who are unable to attend, check back regularly for updates.

Also, be sure to check out Beltwide’s website for a complete schedule of events, personal planner and much more!

Happy Trails!