The cotton dispute between Brazil and the United States took a turn this week. Brazil, you'll recall, won a case against U.S. cotton subsidies in a complaint before the World Trade Organization last March. The WTO ruled the U.S. government had until September 21st to offer a plan to cut about $3 billion in cotton subsidies, which the trade authority said were distorting to the international cotton market.
Though efforts have been made in Congress to come up with a plan, no formal legislation to cut subsidies has been approved. That led Brazil to threaten more than $1 billion in retaliatory tariffs.
But this week, Brazil backed off the threat by signing an agreement to suspend WTO arbitration proceedings. The next move is up to Congress, which must resolve differences in how to repeal the Step 2 cotton program by next August.
Closer to home, U.S. corn producers who employed loan deficiency payments as part of their harvest-time marketing strategy may have to wait a little longer this year to receive their checks.
USDA's stepped-up efforts to get farmers to file electronically for Loan Deficiency Payments has been so successful that the volume of LDP requests arriving by computer has overwhelmed the system.
Farm Service Agency officials say farmers have had to wait up to three weeks to receive their checks after being told the payments could be direct-deposited within 48 hours after an LDP application was approved.
Low cash prices for corn have sent the number of LDP requests skyrocketing in 2005. Farmers have taken the payments on 5.7 billion bushels of corn, or about 52 percent of the nation's crop.
Electronic filings for the LDP have risen from 14,000 last year to more than three-quarters of a million this year. FSA officials say the sheer volume of electronic requests has caused computer delays in some parts of the country. As a result, some farmers are receiving payments later than expected.
To date, the electronic filing program has paid out $2.5 billion in LDPs this year, compared to just $32 million last year. LDPs vary from county-to-county, but through November 18th, the national average for the corn LDP was 44.5 cents a bushel.