June 18, 2014
Present for the ceremonial bill signing were, from left, State Rep. Jim Patterson, Federation State Legislative Programs Director for the House of Representatives David Cole, Federation intern Blake Poole, Alabama Cotton Commission Chairman Jimmy Sanford of Autauga County and Federation State Legislative Programs Director for the Senate Matthew Durdin.
Gov. Robert Bentley formally signed the cotton amendment bill Tuesday afternoon, marking the final step necessary for the amendment to appear on the July 15 ballot.
“We have a constitutional amendment dealing with the cotton issue,” Bentley said. “We are putting it before the people to give them a chance to vote, and I always trust the people’s right to vote on an issue. Agriculture is such a vital part of our Accelerate Alabama plan, and we want to support agriculture and certainly the cotton industry.”
Cotton farmers created the checkoff in the ‘70s to help their industry rebound from losing market share to man-made fibers. Since then, Alabama farmers have paid a self-imposed fee per bale of cotton sold.
“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.
Checkoff money helped fund research for the boll weevil eradication program, which has increased yields and reduced dependence on pesticides. Research also has helped farmers reduce yield losses from pests and nematodes while protecting the soil and environment.
“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. “Through the farmers’ commitments to supporting this program, cotton has remained a viable crop in Alabama.”
Bentley praised Alabama farmers, adding that the cotton industry employs nearly 2,800 people and has a $290.1 million economic impact on Alabama’s economy.
If the July 15 amendment passes, the commission would then be allowed to schedule a vote for cotton farmers to decide on the change to the checkoff program. For more about the “Choose Cotton” campaign, visit ChooseCotton.com.