Sep 22, 2017
EL CAMPO, TX – Yesterday morning two Blackhawk helicopters landed in the field outside Rice Belt Warehouse and deposited Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue and House Ag Committee Chair Mike Conaway who were on an inspection tour surveying damage to crops and equipment as a result of Hurricane Harvey.
L.G. Raun, chairman of the Texas Rice Producers Legislative Group and a rice farmer here, moderated a listening session where representatives of commodity groups from Beaumont to Corpus Christi discussed damages to their specific crops.
As reported, cotton was hardest hit with an estimated 50 percent of the crop destroyed. Rice farmers were considerably more fortunate as 95 percent of the Texas rice crop had been harvested prior to the storm.
“This meeting was a great opportunity to share information about the local rice industry with Secretary Perdue and Chairman Conaway,” said Linda Raun, a local rice farmer. “We talked about Hurricane Harvey’s effect on not only rice but on agriculture all along the Texas Gulf Coast. Both of them asked many questions. You could tell they were sincere in their concern to help folks here recover as quickly as they can.”
Questions were raised about harvested rice being at risk of contamination. New guidance from FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb earlier this month clarified that rice that was not exposed to floodwaters can be sold. The Texas State Chemists Office already has begun testing rice and reports that none of the samples tested to date have been adulterated.
Yesterday’s tour was cut short after a traffic accident involving a vehicle traveling with Perdue’s motorcade and a semi-truck. Two House Agriculture Committee staff members and one USDA staff member were treated and released from a local hospital. Today’s meetings scheduled in Lubbock and Lamesa continued as planned.