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Cotton farmers happy about research amendment - abc27 WHTM

Cotton farmers happy about research amendment

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BLOUNT COUNTY - AL -  On Tuesday's ballot- voters had to decide on an amendment, about a fee for cotton farmers. Many people don't think of fees as good things,  but this isn't any ordinary fee.  

"Every year's not the same," Jimmy Miller, Blount County cotton farmer said.

Each year...  

"It's like a new thing every year," Miller said.

For 50 years, Jimmy Miller has worked his Blount County cotton fields. He comes from a line of six generations of cotton farmers. Generally, people don't like fees. But this one, farmers we spoke with, say they love.

"Without this, we don't get a lot of research done that needs to be for cotton," Miller said. 

Here's how the system has worked. For each bale of cotton, farmers can check off whether they want to contribute one dollar towards research. Whether they choose to do that or not, they all get the same benefits. This amendment decides once and for all if they will be required to pay the fee towards those programs.  

"If the cotton growers want it, and a majority vote for it in a referendum, then it will be mandatory," Miller said. 

So what does this mean for Alabama cotton farmers? They said that research goes toward making better insecticides - increasing production, and ultimately increasing profit. 

Senator Billy Beasley who sponsored the bill told us by phone - it's a huge victory the amendment passed. He said it was put on the run-off ballot because it was passed in the last session and they wanted to move on it as soon as possible.  

"It's essential to have the research done by an extension where it's unbiased research instead of where it's listening from one chemical company to the other," Miller said. 

"It means a lot to rural areas that are farm areas for row crop farmers," Miller said. 

A bale of cotton typically sells between $300-$400. Meaning an average farmer could pay a fee between $1,500-$3,000 depending on how much they sell.  

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