By: Seshadri Ramkumar, Texas Tech University, USA
Getting involved and being active participants are a few traits that are needed to push the cotton, textile and related sectors forward.
Mr. Larry Combest, former Chairman of the US House Agriculture committee while reminiscing about his long experience in the United States’ Congress provided some value suggestions that are needed for people in any industry, in particular cotton sector.
Getting involved in the causes that affect the industry, by being very specific about problems and reasoning with policy makers will help to move the industry forward, said Mr. Combest.
Yesterday, Lubbock Chamber of Commerce hosted Salute to Ag Luncheon as part of National Ag Day celebration in Lubbock. In that event, Mr. Combest and his associate, Tom Sell of Lubbock- based Combest, Sell & Associates explained to farmers, academics and agribusiness people, some ways to accomplish bigger tasks such as passing farm bill legislation. Mr. Combest was the architect of the 2002 farm bill, who put together the bipartisan support for the bill, which provides the necessary support structure for production agriculture.
Lubbock is the epicenter of cotton production and research and has a thriving agribusiness such as insurance and lending agencies. Murvat Musa, Executive Director of Lubbock-based Reese Technology Center stated ”cotton's importance to the West Texas region goes beyond economics. It's truly embedded in the culture and is vital for future generations and the prosperity of families that have been providing cotton to the world.”
Trade is important stated, Mr. Combest. Echoing this sentiment, Tom Sell stated that United States produces more than it can consume and hence fair trade deal is important.
Getting to know people, putting alliances together and having a collective voice such as Chambers of Commerce are needed, at times when there are severe competitions for resources.
Governments around the world need to support research and programs to boost production, given many uncertainties that exits in the agriculture and manufacturing sectors.
Obviously, proposed reductions in U.S. agriculture department’s budget is ringing some alarm bells among researchers and producers.
In addressing this issue, Steve Verett, Executive Vice President of Lubbock-based Plains Cotton Growers aptly stated that U.S. Presidents’ budget is a blueprint that hints about the priorities of the administration. However, the proposed cuts to USDA are troubling as they represent significant reductions to programs such as agricultural research and the delivery of programs through the Farm Service Agency.
Verett, who has been with Plains Cotton Growers since 1997, practices on a daily basis, those traits that were expressed by the Congressman to be essential tools to thrive in the cotton industry. Verett embodies the spirit of hard working farmers of West Texas, who believe in shared responsibility, fair trade and good civic and professional ethics.