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Cotton Checkoff Amendment On Ballot

June 13, 2014

Alabama cotton farmers have supported the state’s checkoff program since it began in the ‘70s. An amendment on the July 15 ballot would allow farmers to hold a referendum on making checkoff participation automatic. Currently, only 7 percent of producers request a refund.

The July 15 runoff ballot includes an amendment for the state’s cotton checkoff. Cotton producers are asking the people of Alabama to choose cotton and vote “yes” on Amendment 1.

The provision would allow Alabama cotton farmers to decide if their current voluntary checkoff should become automatic. The Alabama Farmers Federation and its State Cotton Committee support the amendment.

“The research and cotton policies funded by the Alabama cotton checkoff program have kept our family farm in business,” said Autauga County farmer Jimmy Sanford, who serves as chairman of the Alabama Cotton Commission.

The commission, a board of 11 cotton farmers who serve as unpaid volunteers, determines distribution of checkoff funds.

For more than 30 years, Alabama farmers have supported the cotton checkoff by paying a self-imposed fee per bale of cotton sold to fund cotton research, educational and promotional activities.

Most notably, checkoff money helped fund research for the boll weevil eradication program. More recent research has helped farmers reduce yield losses from pests such as stinkbugs and nematodes.

“All Alabama cotton farmers have benefitted from research funded by the cotton checkoff with increased yields and improved environmental practices,” said Federation Cotton Division Director Carla Hornady.

Currently, the checkoff contains a refund policy, but only 7 percent of farmers request refunds. However, those farmers still have access to and benefit from checkoff-funded research and promotion without paying into the program.

If the July 15 amendment passes, the commission could schedule a vote for cotton farmers to decide on the change to the checkoff program.

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