"The farm law that passed last year phased out payments to farmers of many crops, leaving growers more exposed to market conditions," Prentice writes. "This year marks the first the U.S. cotton farmers are getting by without a subsidy program that had long been the subject of a trade dispute between Washington and Brazil. Washington paid $300 million to Brazil to settle the subsidy squabble and agreed to stop subsidy payment programs to cotton farms that totaled about $576 million in fiscal 2013, according to Congressional Budget Office estimates."
It's now getting too costly to grow cotton, Prentice writes. The price of cotton is currently about 60 cents, down 35 cents from 2014 highs. Also, demand is down, "with global consumption down 9 percent from a peak of 122.5 million bales nine years ago. The industry's most pervasive worry ultimately is not cost, but consumption. Cotton has struggled to recover demand lost amid price spikes in 2008, 2010 and 2011, which drove consumers toward clothes made of other fibers, such as polyester and nylon." (USDA map)