Cotton farmers want to be included in 2018 Farm Bill

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JACKSON COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Jackson County is the number one cotton producer in Florida.

Regions as far away as Saudi Arabia depend on the cotton grown in Northwest Florida.

"You know all of our rural communities depend on agriculture and Jackson County is certainly one of them. It adds to the economy," cotton farmer Sonny Davis said. "It is the economy of the rural counties."

Each year, the federal Farm Bill grants support to farmers for producing crops, but cotton farmers aren't included.

Cotton farmers are excluded because cotton lost its status as a Title One crop after a World Trade Organization dispute with Brazil.

Davis has been in the cotton business for 46 years. He and others are fighting to be included in the 2018 Farm Bill.

"Agriculture is a crop that needs saving," Davis said. "We need to maintain our ability to produce food and fiber. I would hope that everybody would support agriculture production."

The bill stabilizes the price of crops and allows farmers to hold crops until the market is better.

If business slows, cotton gins could start to close.

Davis said he remains hopeful both cotton and cotton seed will be returned to their Title One status and included in the 2018 Farm Bill.

"Cotton is grown, you know, from California to Virginia and so there's a lot of support across the belt to get it back up," Davis said.

Many peanut producers are supporting cotton farmers' efforts to be included in the Farm Bill. Most producers rotate cotton and peanuts, so one crop affects the next.