have only a couple days left have been granted a reprieve to apply for USDA’s Quality Loss Adjustment program (QLA): applications are now due Friday, March 5 April 9. The program offers financial payment to producers who suffered crop quality losses in natural disasters in 2018 and 2019, though qualification for said losses varies state by state, county by county and even bale by bale.
The program provides financial assistance to eligible producers in counties which received a qualifying Presidential Emergency Disaster Declaration or Secretarial Disaster Designation due to qualifying disaster events or related conditions (drought, flood, tropical storm or hurricane, or “excessive moisture”). USDA has an excellent web page with an abundance of information on the program and what’s involved in applying and qualifying.
Regrettably, the program, funded by the Further Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2020, had a rough rollout with conflicting information. Farmers have expressed disappointment at the resulting confusion even in FSA offices. Best practice is that growers should at least check with FSA and apply before the deadline if they’re farming in an affected area, regardless of the stance of their local office regarding eligibility.
Assistance is based on a producer’s harvested affected production of an eligible crop in an affected county, which for cotton means at least a five percent quality loss reflected through a quality discount; and for forage crops, a nutrient loss, such as total digestible nutrients.
To apply, growers will need certain bale information. Calcot can and will generate bale information for members. Check with your field representative if you need this information, which will only be created upon request. Calcot cannot ascertain if the member is eligible; only FSA can do that.
To contact your local Farm Services Administration office, visit this webpage for hours and locations.
We’re still moving people in and will be for a time yet, but Calcot’s business office headquarters in California officially has a new physical address: 2131 Mars Ct, Bakersfield CA 93308. Our phone numbers haven’t changed, nor has our PO Box (PO Box 259, Bakersfield CA 93302). Once coronavirus restrictions improve to the point we can have full staff in the office, we’ll let everyone know.
Calcot staff and members are mourning the loss of a valued longtime employee, coworker and friend, Doug Starr.
Doug, Calcot’s Call Pool Manager, died November 25, 2020, a day short of his 55th birthday, following a long bout with cancer. Though he fought long and bravely, ultimately he succumbed to the disease at home, with his family beside him during his final moments.
Calcot President Paul Bush said, “Doug will be sorely missed, both personally and professionally. His unique intellect, emotional style and skill set made him a valuable asset to our organization. He was always a calming voice during tumultuous times. He had the respect of our growers, our directors, and of those who worked around him.
“Doug’s reputation within our industry was impeccable: honest, fair, and never refused a task. Our hearts go out to his family and friends for the loss of a great man and genuinely good person.”
Douglas Gerald Starr was born November 26, 1965, to Carolyn Mae Starr and to Gerald Arthur Starr in Ankara, Turkey (his father was on deployment with the United States Air Force). His family lived and explored many places around the U.S. and the world.
The Starr family moved to Bakersfield in 1982, and except for a college stint away from home, he would reside in Bakersfield the rest of his life, attending and graduating from Bakersfield High School, Bakersfield College and California State University in Chico. He was hired at Calcot soon after graduating from Chico State.
Doug married Donna Haycock in 1992, and soon they had two boys, Tyler and Kevin. Doug was always drawn to the outdoors and so he was naturally a Cub Scout leader for BSA Troop 208 and Scout Master for BSA Troop 139, allowing him to spend great time with his sons. He was also a parent volunteer for the Highland High School Marching Band (pulling the trailer with all the instruments for seven years). He and his family loved going to Disneyland, motorcycle riding, cycling, hiking, camping and hosting dinner parties.
After Doug was diagnosed with adenoid cystic carcinoma in 2018, he set a goal to hike the 215-mile long John Muir Trail, which starts in Yosemite Valley and ends at Mt. Whitney, the highest point in the lower 48 states. Doug and Tyler finished hiking the trail in summer, 2019, with trail angel support from Donna and Kevin.
Doug is survived by his wife and boys. An online service was held December 9, due to Covid-19 restrictions. Condolences can be sent to the Starr family, 3307 Petite Sirah Street, Bakersfield CA 93306.
Despite daunting odds wrought by the Covid-19 pandemic and drastic changes that ensued, in a year President Paul Bush described as “unprecedented, unpredictable and unprofitable,” Calcot completed the 2019-20 marketing year and distributed a final settlement of almost $3 million.
That was the message at the 93rd annual meeting Sept. 29 in Phoenix, Ariz., though it was the first to be conducted via a virtual format due to meeting and local government restrictions on group gatherings.
President Paul Bush said the season had more than its usual share of challenges but was pleased to tell members the cooperative would pay out one cent per pound on every bale in Calcot’s Upland Seasonal Pool on base grades, and better cotton qualified for additional premiums.
For example, 31-3-36 and better SJV Acala and California Upland cotton in the industry preferred micronaire range of 3.5–4.9 was paid an additional premium of 6.5 cents per pound for a total final payment of 7.50 cents per pound. Roller-ginned 31-3-39 cotton from the same are qualified for the same premiums even as it is already at a 400-point premium to saw-ginned.
Seasonal Pool Pima cotton, base 2-2-46, saw a final payment of 2.75 cents per pound, and like California’s other varieties is on gin UD free terms.
Desert varieties of California/Arizona and Desert Southwest origin, 31-3-36 and better with base micronaire, was paid an additional cent and a half for a final payment of 2.5 cents per pound in the Seasonal Pool.
Cotton from South and West Texas of 31-3-36 base mic was paid an additional half cent and thus a final payment of 1.5 cents per pound. Checks and direct deposits have been issued to members.
President Bush said Upland growers also benefitted from CFAP payments, which on eligible cotton was the equivalent of 4.75 cents per pound, subject to payment limitations. He praised Calcot staff in issuing information members needed to facilitate applications for this assistance. Pima cotton was CFAP ineligible, unfortunately for 2019-20, but 2020 acreage in included in the latest round of CFAP2. Bush also noted a $3 per bale Supima refund was distributed to members as quickly as it was received and is not calculated in the final payment.
He said the season was one that taught him “to worry about everything but panic about nothing” but was “frustrating,” because higher prices in the early winter dropped precipitously once the pandemic began spreading around the globe. Adjusted for inflation, cotton prices were lower than during the Great Depression. “I believe we would have seen higher market prices without the Covid intervention and impact,” he said.
Bush praised the work of Calcot employees, many of whom were forced to work from home under most unusual circumstances. His comments were echoed by Chairman Greg Wuertz, who in his webcast address noted employees also had the added stress of having to move out of offices occupied by staff since 1949 following the sale of the Bakersfield office building.
A replacement office space was ready to be moved into in mid-June but a fire in the facility the night before staff was going to move in has kept most employees working from home until repairs are complete this fall. Wuertz said he was optimistic staff could move into the leased office space in November.
The chairman noted the deaths of over 200,000 Americans from coronavirus and offered a moment of silence for Calcot director Lonnie Kellermeier, who died in a farming accident in June, and noted the passing of retired longtime Arizona vice president Lon Emerson in January.
Wuertz thanked Director Melvin Pereira, who did not run for re-election after over 20 years on the board, for his service, and offered gratitude on behalf of the board and members to Marci Cunningham, who retired from Grower Services on October 15 after 45 years with the company.
The chairman also announced to the membership that if he was re-elected as chairman, the 2020-21 season would be his final in the post and urged members to get involved in leadership posts. (Wuertz was re-elected chair in the board reorganization meeting immediately following; Michael Brooks, Toby Robertson and Jeff Mancebo were re-elected as vice chairmen. Bush was re-elected as president.)
Wuertz reported on the sale of the Bakersfield facility and the status of other property, including the purchase, renovation and expansion of a warehouse facility in Kenedy, Tex., and welcomed to the cooperative for the first-time new members from Kansas.
In other news, Directors Bruce Heiden, Stephanie Sauceda-Manuel, John Nevitt and Robertson were all re-elected to three-year terms on the board. Directors Brooks, Steve Coester, K.C. Gingg, John Pucheu, Jack Seiler, Jon Whatley and Wuertz were all re-elected as directors at large.
The new CFAP2 program application period has closed. Upland payment rates look to be about four cents per pound, subject to payment limits. Pima cotton producers are limited to a flat $15 per acre payment. For more information, visit the USDA site for details. https://www.farmers.gov/cfap
Calcot members have been mailed letters regarding their individual Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) Upland cotton production. The members’ only website calcot.net has a link that will enable each member to access their individual percentage considered “unpriced” and “at risk” for Seasonal Pool, Call Pool and Spot Fixation. For additional information about CFAP, please visit https://www.farmers.gov/cfap, or contact your local FSA office.
USDA has also published a helpful video previewing the CFAP Payment Calculator and application process.
Health authorities are now recommending that masks be worn to cover the nose and mouth, if you must venture out in public, but manufactured masks are difficult to come by. Consequently, many are making their own masks.
This Washington Post story notes the most effective homemade masks are made from cotton, specifically “tightly woven” cotton of 180 thread count, or higher—think of bedsheets or pillowcases. Cotton t-shirt material can also be effective. The key is to layer the fabric, the experts say, and be sure to wash your mask immediately after wearing it.
One of the studies referred to in that story is here.
And then there’s this reference.
Cotton is not only comfortable, it can be a lifesaver.
Hello, everyone. I wanted to give you an update of where things stand in this highly unusual situation.
Like many of you, though we have crisis action plans for natural disasters, I admit I never imagined ourselves in this particular one.
Like so many around the country, and indeed the world, Calcot has been affected by circumstances beyond our control. However, we have been proactively dealing with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. Obviously, there are numerous business uncertainties arising from this international crisis, and we want you to know that we are and will remain focused on business continuity and minimizing disruptions as we have for every day of our 93 years in business.
Calcot has performed through the Great Depression, World War II, the Korean War, Vietnam and both Iraq Wars. We’ve performed through severe earthquakes, warehouse fires and devastating hurricanes. We will perform through this too.
As an agricultural cooperative owned by our grower-members, we have been exempted by the state of California and the federal government from the state’s “Shelter in Place” order, and for the foreseeable future, Calcot will continue to do what we do best: sell and ship cotton to our loyal partners. Both state and federal governments understand how vital agriculture is to our nation’s security and economy, which is why our business is exempted, as is yours. The cotton our members produce not only goes into clothing products, but numerous critical medical and industrial applications. Most importantly, cotton remains an integral part of the majority of our members’ operations. We know you rely upon us as the marketing and distribution arm of your cotton crop and your livelihood, and we’re going to do that to the best of our abilities given the circumstances.
We are striving for shipments to continue on schedule for all pending transactions from appropriate locations. Clearly, it’s not “business as usual,” but we’re striving to be as close to normal as we can in the circumstances.
Though our focus remains upon top-quality service to our loyal members and our mill customers, Calcot’s paramount priority is the health of our employees and their families, who support you and our customers day in and day out. Thus, we have initiated emergency plans and have taken numerous protective measures include suspending business travel, restricting visitors, sanitizing facilities and wherever possible working remotely and meeting virtually. Our headquarters is operating with minimal staff in the office, as employees are working primarily at home.
We have established a comprehensive response protocol for managing exposure risks and responding quickly at the local, state and national levels. We will continue to monitor the evolving situation and follow guidance from government authorities and health agencies. In the meantime, I expect all our employees to follow our emergency procedures to the letter.
As this is such a sudden development, with employees working remotely from their homes, some communication may lag as we refine our new procedures, and I ask that you bear with us and them. Calls may not be immediately returned, nor emails answered as quickly as you are accustomed. I apologize in advance for any inconvenience in these circumstances.
During these challenging times, I am confident in our ability to continue providing the high level of service and support you have come to expect. Our warehouse locations are up and running at this time and inventory is ready to ship.
Depending on how things progress, there may be some logistics challenges, but here’s the bottom line: even working remotely in a virtually unprecedented environment, Calcot is at the service of our members and our customers, as always.
Let me add my personal thank you for your efforts and understanding, especially during these precarious and uncertain times. We will weather this storm together (though six feet apart—and wash your hands!). Even with the uncertainty in the weeks and months ahead, Calcot will continue to take responsible, proactive steps to mitigate all risks while doing everything within our power to protect the health and interests of our employees, their treasured families, our members, valued customers, vendors, loyal partners and communities from the effects of this pandemic.
If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to reach out to us.
Stay safe and may you and yours be healthy and well.
President and CEO
Calcot’s headquarters remain open during the pandemic, albeit with minimal staff. Employees who can work from home are doing so. Contact us by email or telephone. We apologize in advance for any delay in responding to calls or emails in this highly unusual situation. Thanks for understanding!.
Calcot Director Arnold Burruel (District 12A) was interviewed by a Tucson television station about the difficulties and challenges of producing and marketing a cotton crop in 2019.