USA Rice Federation Government Affairs Activities Update
- Helping to lead commodity-coalition communications to House and Senate leaders and participating in Congressional staff meetings to document how U.S. farm policy leads the way in reducing federal spending; to oppose any cuts to mandatory farm programs outside of the 2012 farm-bill debate; and to urge that any farm-program-budget changes be commensurate with their impact on the overall federal budget.
- The USA Rice Producers’ Group and its six-state Farm Policy Task Force have developed farm-safety-net priorities to guide the industry during farm-bill discussions:
- Provide adequate price protection through the producer option of either a countercyclical target-price program or revenue program.
- Minimize the impact of payment limitations and adjusted-gross-income tests.
- Seek improvement of crop-insurance policies that address the unique risks of rice producers.
- USA Rice members and staff have maintained a close dialogue with House and Senate Agriculture Committee leaders to ensure they understand the primary risks rice producers face and the policies that are needed to best address these risks.
- Completed a comprehensive analysis of the U.S. rice industry. Evaluated the existing farm-safety net, its effectiveness, and what alternatives could be considered within the budget to provide an adequate farm-bill safety net.
- Main rice organization working independently and with commodity and business coalitions to improve U.S.-Cuba travel and trade, including promoting co-sponsorship and passage of House and Senate U.S.-Cuba travel-and-ag-trade bills. Working to add cosponsors to H.R. 833, introduced by Rep. Mike Conaway (R-TX), which would address U.S.-Cuba agricultural-trade issues.
- Extensive discussions with U.S.-government officials in Washington and Bogota to advance implementation of the rice provisions of the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement. Continued dialogue with US Rice Producers Association to reach consensus on establishment of an export-trading company.
- Provided comments to the Administration on the possible entry of Japan into the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations, noting the importance of exports to Japan for the U.S. rice industry and the necessity for rice to be on the negotiating table.
- The only organization consistently taking the lead to keep Latin American and Mexican markets open to U.S. rice exports when threatened by phytosanitary trade barriers.
- The USA Rice Producers’ Group Crop Insurance Task Force continues work to develop two new crop- insurance products for rice. The Margin Protection product was submitted to the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation (FCIC) for review in early January. This product would combine price and yield coverage with margin protection to address rising input costs, primarily fuel and fertilizer costs.
- The Downed Rice Endorsement product will be submitted to FCIC this spring as an add-on to existing rice policies to help offset a portion of the added harvest expense associated with harvesting downed rice due to a weather event. Both of these products, if approved, are expected to be available for the 2013 crop year.
- Working with EPA and USDA on SPCC compliance-assistance issues for producers; with EPA on pesticide-permitting issues; and with EPA and others on engine emissions; New Source Performance; agricultural-dust limits; and greenhouse gas clean-air issues; structural-fumigant issues; and Clean Water Act issues.
- After securing House passage of H.R. 872, working to pass similar legislation in the Senate to prohibit EPA from requiring Clean Water Act permits for pesticide applications already regulated under FIFRA.
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