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Cotton checkoff on ballot

Published 6:33pm Thursday, June 12, 2014

The July 15 runoff election will include a proposed amendment that could mean more resources for cotton farmers.

If passed, the amendment would allow cotton farmers to decide if their current voluntary checkoff should become an automatic requirement.

“It allows the cotton producers to hold a vote later on,” said Debra Davis of the Alabama Farmers Federation. “It’s just the way the Constitution is worded. The entire state has to pass an amendment to change things.”

When farmers sell cotton, they can opt to donate a percentage of the sale to funding research, education and promotions. The current amendment allows for an optional 70 cent deduction from each sale.

“Remember ‘Cotton, the fabric of our lives?’ That campaign was funded by the checkoff,” Davis said.

The checkoff also funded research on the boll weevil when it threatened an entire season’s crops.

The state organization can opt to contribute to the national organization and national campaigns.

Davis said every agricultural farmer has a checkoff representing them. “Beef, it’s what’s for dinner”; “Pork, the other white meat”; and “Got milk” are all examples of national cuttoff campaigns.

“Right now, farmers can request a refund if they don’t want to pay into the checkoff. This would make everyone pay into it,” Davis said. “Because everybody benefits.”

Alfa is in favor of the amendment because Davis says state cotton farmers are overwhelmingly in favor of it.

“There’s not a cost involved to the general public to have it,” she said. “It’s just a fairness issue.”

Republicans will see a ballot with runoff races and the cotton amendment. Democrats have no runoff races, but will have an individual ballot to vote on the cotton amendment.

For more information about the upcoming election, visit www.alabamavotes.com.

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