Cotton ginners were to begin requesting payments for the 2002-crop cottonseed assistance program May 2, USDA announced.

Congress authorized $50 million for the payments in the Agricultural Assistance Act of 2003 in February. USDA officials had said they would have to wait until the completion of the ginning season, April 1, to begin the enrollment process.

“We will provide ginners and producers this much-needed assistance as quickly as possible,” said Jim Little, administrator of USDA's Farm Service Agency, which will oversee the signup process.

Little said program applications are being mailed to ginners, who must submit completed forms to FSA headquarters by May 23 to be considered for payment. All ginners of cotton produced in 2002 will be eligible for the payments, which should be made in early June, according to USDA.

FSA estimates that the average payment rate will be $8 per ton of cottonseed or about $3 per bale of lint cotton. The exact payment will be based on the quantity of cottonseed FSA estimates to have been produced from the bales and lint weight certified on the applications received from ginners.

USDA said payments are being made to ginners because they produce and market the cottonseed. “However, when applying for payments, ginners must agree to share payments with the cotton producers to the extent that the low cottonseed prices were borne by the producers rather than the ginner,” it said.

Ginners who did not receive their application by May 5 or need more information on the cottonseed payment program should contact Gene Rosera, FSA Price Support Division, at 202 720 8481 or e-mail: gene_rosera@wdc.usda.gov.

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