HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) -- There will only be one statewide amendment on the upcoming runoff ballot in Alabama, but some cotton farmers fear voters won't understand what their 'yes' vote actually means to the industry that is pivotal to our state's agricultural economy.
The 'cotton amendment' will be on your July 15 primary runoff ballot. If passed, it would allow Alabama’s cotton farmers to decide if their current voluntary checkoff program should become automatic.
The provision has wide support from the state’s farming community, including the Alabama Cotton Commission, Cotton Incorporated and the Alabama Farmers Federation State Cotton Committee.
“The research and cotton policies funded by the Alabama cotton checkoff program have kept our family farm in business,” said Autauga County farmer Jimmy Sanford, chairman of the Alabama Cotton Commission.
Cotton farmers created the checkoff in the ‘70s to help their industry rebound from losing marketshare to man-made fibers. Since then, Alabama farmers have paid a self-imposed fee for each bale of cotton sold. That money must be used for cotton research, educational and promotional activities.
Most notably, checkoff money helped fund research for the boll weevil eradication program, which increased yields and reduced pesticide use. More recent research has helped farmers reduce yield losses from pests such as stinkbugs and nematodes while protecting the soil and environment.
Madison County cotton farmer Mike Tate says he is concerned voters will be confused by the ballot item and vote no only because they don't understand what the yes vote really means.
"We’re asking the general public to allow us to have that uniform voice by voting ‘yes’ on this amendment. Voting in favor of Amendment 1 will help cotton compete nationally and globally,” Tate says.
If the July 15 amendment passes, the commission would then be allowed to schedule a vote for cotton farmers to decide on the proposed change to the checkoff program.
Additional information on the amendment and the state’s cotton checkoff program is available at ChooseCotton.com.