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Chairman Conaway statement on Secretary Vilsack's comments regarding cotton crisis

Washington, D.C. - Following media reports that the U.S. Department of Agriculture intends to deny urgently needed assistance to American cotton farmers and the rural communities that depend on the U.S. cotton industry, House Agriculture Committee Chairman K. Michael Conaway (R-TX) issued the following statement.

"I greatly appreciate that Secretary Vilsack has been taking time to consider the request made by me and more than 100 members of Congress to exercise his authority under the law to allow cottonseed to participate alongside other oilseeds under the Farm Bill. The heavy subsidies and protectionist policies put in place by China, India and other major players have deeply depressed the global cotton market and now seriously jeopardize the livelihoods of thousands of American farm families and an important sector of our nation's economy.

"Time and again the Secretary has used the tools made available to him under the law to respond to a crisis in agriculture. The current economic situation for cotton farmers is dire and it warrants the same urgent and meaningful action by the Department.

"Because I have not received an official reply to our request from the Department, but have only read media reports speculating on the Department's intended course of action on this matter, I would simply underscore that U.S. farm policy absolutely hinges on Washington showing the same level of empathy for farmers and ranchers around the country irrespective of where they farm or what they raise.

"The Department has not only the legal authority to designate cottonseed as an ‘other oilseed,' but the responsibility to act, and I trust that the Secretary is sensitive to the situation and shares my commitment and the commitment of so many others that this matter must be meaningfully responded to in a timely way."