Cotton growers will get a new round of ginning cost-share payments to tide them over until new farm bill assistance kicks in. 

The sign-up period for the ginning payments will run from March 12 to May 11. Payment rates will vary by region based on variations in ginning costs and will be linked to the producer’s 2016 cotton acreage. 

USDA provided similar payments in 2016 to help growers cope with a decline in cotton prices. 

“I hope this will be a needed help as the rural cotton-growing communities stretching from the southeastern U.S. to the San Joaquin Valley of California prepare to plant,” said Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, who announced the payments at the Mid-South Farm and Gin Show in Memphis, Tenn. “This infusion gives them one last opportunity for assistance until their farm bill safety net becomes effective.”

A budget bill enacted last month made seed cotton eligible for the Price Loss Coverage program. Seed cotton is unginned cotton that includes the seed and fiber. 

The ginning subsidy rates, which are set at 20 percent of the regional ginning cost, will be $23.21 per acre for Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia; $30.39 for Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Mississippi and Tennessee; $19.65 for Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas; and $48.02 for Arizona, California and New Mexico. 

The payments will be capped at $40,000 per producer.

"We are grateful for the opportunity for assistance, because our producers certainly need it," said Johnie Reed, president of Plains Cotton Growers, based in Lubbock, Texas. "We've been dealing with many factors over the past few years that are beyond our control, and we thank Secretary Perdue and the USDA for responding to their needs and helping ensure a stronger future for cotton."

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