The budget deal signed by President Donald Trump Friday morning adds new price protections for Georgia cotton farmers.
The bill makes both cotton fiber and cotton seed eligible for a program in the current Farm Bill, passed in 2014.
The Price Loss Coverage program pays farmers when they can’t sell their products for a certain target price set by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
“That price is generally pretty low,” said Taylor Sills with the Georgia Cotton Commission. “So, if what [farmers] receive is less than that, then [farmers] get a payment of the difference.”
Sills says it’s been a tough year for Georgia farmers. They’ve lost cotton to bad weather from events like Hurricane Irma and infestations of the silverleaf whitefly, an agricultural pest.
Allowing cotton farmers to qualify for federal subsidies in the current Farm Bill has them hopeful they’ll qualify in this year’s Farm Bill, currently in the works.
“We’re hoping that this will — if the prices are low enough — it’ll give some of our farmers some assistance to keep them from going out of business,” Sills said.
Georgia farmers produce about a million acres of cotton a year. In the U.S., that’s second only to Texas.