Cotton gin operators squeezed by prices, weather

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - Arkansas farmers aren't alone in taking a financial beating because of the weather. The state's cotton gin operators are feeling the effects, too.

In 2006, Arkansas growers planted 1.2 million acres of cotton. That's down to 500,000 acres this year. Of that, the Cooperative Extension Service estimates that nearly one-third will be lost because of the persistent rain this fall. Some cotton is so rain-fouled that seeds have spouted in the bolls.

Selling the cotton seeds is how gins make their money. Cottonseed prices are down this year because dairy farms have moved to alternative feeds. So Arkansas gin operators are being squeezed by less acreage, lower quality seed because of the weather and low prices.

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