Alabama Chambers Support Cotton Check-off on July 15 ballot

A yes vote for Amendment 1 on July 15 statewide runoff ballots will give Alabama cotton farmers the freedom to decide if their existing voluntary check-off should become automatic.

Created in the 1970s, cotton farmers utilized the check-off to build a stronger cotton industry. The check-off program greatly benefits farmers through research, promotional and educational efforts.

The Alabama Cotton Commission, a group of 11 cotton farmers who serve as unpaid volunteers, supports Amendment 1, along with the Alabama Farmers Federation and Cotton Inc. Amendment 1 also is supported by the Chamber of Commerce Association of Alabama.

To fund the check-off, farmers currently pay a self-imposed fee of $1 per bale in addition to one-half of 1 percent of cotton sold. Funds are collected from producers at cotton gins and remitted to the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries. The money is then turned over to the Alabama Cotton Commission.  

Referendums to extend the check-off are held every 10 years and have been approved the last 30 years. State law requires a vote on a constitutional amendment. If the July 15 amendment passes, cotton producers themselves will have the opportunity to vote if it will become automatic.

The Commission is responsible for distributing check-off funds that account for boll weevil eradication, research on reducing yield losses to pests while protecting the soil and environment, impact and management of fire ants on cotton farms, as well as Ag in the Classroom and Ag Alumni Roundup.

Research also helps improve harvest and ginning through enhanced production systems. By strengthening cotton production, Alabama’s agriculture foundation becomes stronger.

If passed by Alabama voters, Amendment 1 would support Alabama cotton farmers and help build a more resilient economic base for our state.

-Anna Dobbins