Jan 15, 2016
WASHINGTON, DC – After nearly a month-long recess, the U.S. Senate returned to the Capitol on Monday following their counterparts in the House of Representatives who kicked off their legislative year the previous week.
As Congress begins work on their legislative agenda, USA Rice is finalizing priorities and planning for the year ahead.
Ben Mosely, USA Rice vice president of government affairs, shared his thoughts on what the industry will focus on in 2016, saying, “Obviously, protecting the great work we accomplished in the 2014 Farm Bill will be a strong priority for us. With such a weak farm economy, the Title I (Commodity Title) safety net programs built into the Farm Bill are all that’s keeping some producers in business until the markets make a turn for the better.
“On the same note, reducing the burden on rice operations that will result from the new Actively Engaged in Farming regulations will be near the top of our list. In addition, we are continuously advocating for the Market Access Program and Foreign Market Development funding that are vital to the industry and have proven to be well worth the investment by Congress.”
In addition to Farm Bill-related legislation, Mosely mentioned several other priorities for the rice industry: “We want to ensure that global rice trade is being legitimately regulated by the World Trade Organization in a fair and legal fashion, and we need to press for policies that will reverse the trend of U.S. exports losing market share to the bad actors. USA Rice will remain the leader in calling for a lifting of the trade embargo between the U.S. and Cuba to help reopen an important rice market. Keeping in-kind food aid contributions at their current levels is another battle we’re constantly engaged in, especially considering fortified rice was developed for food aid programs and is currently underutilized. Also in the trade arena, while it looks as if the much ballyhooed Trans Pacific Partnership is moving to Congress’s back burner and likely won’t see action until after the 2016 elections, USA Rice will continue to monitor the deal and its implications for U.S. rice.”
Other priorities for USA Rice include reducing the regulatory burden on U.S. agriculture by legislation such as the Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) and other overly-duplicative EPA regulations. We will continue to support the sound tax provisions made permanent in 2015 for Section 179 and bonus depreciation that incentivize equipment and construction investments and generate jobs on and off farms.
Mosely concluded, “Of course, our priorities are ever evolving so this list is fluid and not all-inclusive, but we’re looking forward to the challenges 2016 will bring.”
Rice industry members will be visiting with Members of Congress on priority issues next month during the USA Rice Government Affairs Conference. Please stay tuned for conference details.