Oct 02, 2017
RAYVILLE, LA – Last Friday, more than 200 farmers and stakeholders weighed in on their priorities at a 2018 Farm Bill Listening Session hosted by Congressman Ralph Abraham (R-LA) that included three panels of industry leaders from government, farming, and related industries.
Scott Franklin, a rice farmer and rice merchant from Holly Ridge, played a key role in organizing the listening session and represented the U.S. rice industry on the farming panel.
Franklin testified on the importance of foreign market access and exports, crop insurance, and the conservation of natural resources. His remarks centered around the need for the Farm Bill to include a strong safety net, specifically focusing on the Price Loss Coverage (PLC) program that is the cornerstone of the safety net for rice farmers.
“The current farm bill has helped the rice industry stay afloat during the last few years of unprecedented price declines," said Franklin. "The PLC program is simple, predictable, and it functions as intended by providing assistance during times of declined prices that are beyond the control of a farmer."
Franklin concluded with an impassioned plea to Congress to "maintain the commodity title programs and help support the policies and trade practices that made the United States the largest provider of rice in the world."
Kevin Norton, Louisiana State conservationist for the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, served on the related industries panel and discussed the importance of preserving conservation programs, like the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP), in the 2018 Farm Bill. Norton said the partnership between USA Rice and Ducks Unlimited is a model for public/private conservation efforts and called it "the flagship program for RCPP across the United States."
Congressman Abraham thanked local experts for their input and the farming community for interest in the Farm Bill process, and said, "what makes Louisiana work is what works for the South." Abraham felt the Farm Bill would be on time and "on target for December 2018."
“I’m pleased Congressman Abraham reached out to the agriculture community for input on one of the most important pieces of legislation for our farmers," said rice farmer John Owen of Alto, who was in attendance.
Congressman Abraham will continue to gather input from the farm community as the Farm Bill is crafted in Washington, DC, and USA Rice staff will be working closely with his office to ensure that rice industry priorities are heard.
"Congressman Abraham has been a true friend and leader for the U.S rice industry,” said USA Rice President & CEO Betsy Ward. “We greatly appreciate his hard work and commitment to crafting a Farm Bill that will support U.S rice."