WASHINGTON, DC -- USA Rice’s World Market Price Subcommittee met on February 16, marking the unofficial last meeting of the 2017 Government Affairs Conference. “We meet in Washington, DC three times a year, and our February session benefits from several previous days of meetings with congressional and administration officials,” said Subcommittee Chairman Keith Glover of Producers’ Rice Mill in Stuttgart, Arkansas. “We also welcome the newly graduated Leadership Class so they can see first-hand the work of the Subcommittee and all segments of USA Rice’s membership.”
Members discussed estimates for the 2017 rice crop in anticipation of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Prospective Plantings Report to be issued at the end of March. Area this year could fall as much as 15 percent from 2016’s 3.15 million acres given current prices of rice and competing crops. The Subcommittee focused discussions with USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service on reporting of monthly rough rice prices. “Reporting of average cash prices by NASS is very important to our industry, and we continue to work with the agency and our members to get this right,” said Glover.
Representatives from the Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) reported on favorable developments in USA Rice’s long-running efforts to have fortified rice included in U.S. food aid programs and to have private food aid organizations request fortified rice in U.S. donations.
“We met earlier this week with administration officials and representatives of the World Food Programme and we’re getting very close to the door opening wide for U.S. fortified rice in food aid,” reported USA Rice President & CEO Betsy Ward.
FAS officials also noted the discrepancy in figures for rice exports to Mexico as reported by the Bureau of the Census, the U.S. government’s official source for trade data, and figures as reported in USDA’s weekly Export Sales report. Export numbers to Mexico as carried in Export Sales consistently lag those reported by Census, and all industry participants were encouraged to improve exporting reporting to USDA in line with regulatory requirements.
The Subcommittee will next meet in May in Washington, DC.