Cotton farmer reaction to soaring cotton prices

By Keith Boles - bio | email feedback

CRAIGHEAD COUNTY, AR (KAIT) --Cotton closed Wednesday at an average price of 93 cents a pound. The highest it's been in decades.

With the cotton harvest really just getting underway, what do these prices mean for cotton farmers?

Brandon Finch raises corn, soybeans and cotton with his family on their farms near Caraway. Overall, a pretty good year so far, he says.

"Other than being dry and hot and spending a lot of money on fuel, it's been a pretty good growing season."

With the cotton just now really getting into picking, farmers are hoping for big returns to cover expenses.

Finch, "Cotton is very expensive as opposed to other crops. Around here you have to take into consideration a boll weevil payment. You have to take into consideration the weed resistant issue. We are having to hire labor like we never did before. "

The good news is they very well might have a money making year. Bloomberg, the USDA and other sources say cotton could reach $1.25 a pound by January.

Finch says this is the best cotton prices have been in nearly 50 years.

"Consumption is up and from my standpoint I don't think that production will climb that much in the U.S. so I think the prices may hold."

Over the past several years, many farmers have gotten out of the cotton business. But even with cotton prices on the rise, many would have to start from scratch.

Even a used cotton picker can run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars for a decent machine.

China, India, Russia and Pakistan's cotton crops have all been severely affected by weather this year.

China is the largest consumer of cotton in the world and having to import cotton is what is shooting the price up which will undoubtedly roll up prices on cotton clothing.

Finch has already sold his crop and says if the prices keep on climbing he and other farmers may go ahead and sell next years as well.

According to the USDA, all cotton production is forecast at 18.8 million bales which will be up over 50 percent from last year

Finch, "Farmers who have sold their crop have sold it at a great price compared to what we're used to. We all know last year everybody took a hit and we need a good year to polish up after a bad one. For sure."

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