Cotton prices continue upward

Increased demand and reduced production should pay off for US cotton farmers as the 2010 planting season gets underway.

With demand for cotton products weathering the economic recession as well or better than most consumer goods, reduction in world stocks of cotton over the past two years is likely to drive cotton prices up for the 2010 crop, according to Southeast Farm Press.

January cotton prices came in at 65.12 cents per pound, compared with 43.87 cents a year ago, according to the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. And futures prices have soared past 80 cents a pound.

Southeastern cotton growers had a decent crop in 2009, but a good portion was lost to late-season rains.

Cotton growers from California to the Carolinas planted slightly more than 9 million acres in 2009, but as much a 15 percent of the crop was abandoned — in large part to record rainfall from the middle to traditional end point of cotton harvest in the Southeast and Mid-South, the publication added.

The inclement weather delayed harvest, making it difficult to determine total US production for 2009, but that number is expected to finish at around 12.5 million bales.

On a global basis cotton production is expected to be down almost 5 million bales. Small gains in production in South and Central America are more than offset by China’s decline in cotton production of over five percent, Farm Press reported.

“In addition to supply driven price improvement, the steady increase in cotton prices in 2009 are in part due to continued lowering of the US dollar value, a general upturn in the economy and tighter balance sheets by textile mills worldwide,” the publication added.

Standish out as BFNB president, director

Two weeks after being relieved of chief executive duties by Beach First National Bancshares, Walt Standish has resigned as president and director of the Myrtle Beach-based bank company.

Standish, who joined Beach First in 2000, resigned Friday.

Beach First is in a world of trouble financially. Last month it announced that it lost a staggering $30 million in 2009. That’s a substantial increase over 2008, when it lost $3.7 million.

Stock in Beach First, trading for nearly $14 a share two years ago, is currently at 86 cents.

Beach First National Bancshares was recently ordered by the Federal Reserve Board to halt payment of dividends and to submit a new plan to maintain adequate capital.

In a written agreement between the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, Beach First was told not to declare or pay dividends, purchase or redeem shares or take any other actions that reduce the capital of Beach First National Bank without regulatory approval.

The Fed said Beach First had 60 days to submit to the Richmond Fed an acceptable written plan to maintain sufficient capital at Beach First on a consolidated basis.

The Fed order comes just over three months after another regulator, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, ordered Beach First to submit a revised three-year capital plan.

In mid-February, Standish was replaced as chief executive officer on an interim basis by John S. Poelker. In conjunction with this appointment, the bank entered into a consulting agreement with The Poelker Consultancy.

At that time, however, the company said that Standish agreed to retain the title of president of both Beach First National Bancshares and Beach First National Bank.