Article published Feb 26, 2006
La. rice farmers want 2002 farm bill extended
The Associated Press
Southwest Louisiana rice farmers are asking Congress to extend
provisions of the 2002 farm bill until a new World Trade Organization
agreement is reached that would keep farmers in business by opening more
The White House opposes an extension to the current farm bill, which
funds subsidy programs.
Congress has begun preliminary work on the next farm bill, which is not
up for a vote for another year.
Louisiana Rice Council President Jimmy Hoppe of Fenton said changes in
the law before a new WTO agreement is reached would penalize U.S.
farmers, while foreign competitors would gain.
"We would have to produce and sell at a world market that is in discord
from our economy," Hoppe said.
President of the Jeff Davis Rice Growers, Jim Watkins of Welsh, said the
United States should keep farmers in business to avoid becoming a nation
that depends on foreign interests for its food.
"We need to keep the farm bill intact so that we will be able to feed
ourselves," Watkins said.
The U.S. rice industry is pushing for greater access to foreign markets
for U.S. farm products and the Cuban market is of special interest to
Randy Jemison, director of Louisiana Field Services for the USA Rice
Federation, said the Cuban market was shut down by trade sanctions
during the Cuban missile crisis, but was reopened for humanity aid
during the Clinton administration.
U.S. rice exports to Cuba in 2005 through November totaled 132,000 tons,
making Cuba the eighth-largest export market.
Those exports have been seriously dampened since the Treasury Department
required cash payments in advance for U.S. agricultural sales to Cuba.
Cuba is now buying rice from China and Vietnam, while U.S. sales have
fallen, Jemison said.
Information from: American Press,