More Updates From Last Week’s DC Fly-In

K. Glover & STB Member Michelle Schultz sit at conference table going over notes & spread sheets
STB Adminstrator Melissa Bailey (left) and Arkansas miller Keith Glover go over the data
Feb 12, 2024
WASHINGTON, DC – USA Rice millers and merchants met with key U.S. executive and legislative government officials during their fly-in last week to talk about trade and transportation among other topics.

John Morgan, a Louisiana rice miller, kicked off a meeting with USDA Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) Associate Administrator Melissa Bailey who provided an update on what AMS is doing that will impact the U.S. rice industry, including the announced $1 billion in food aid commodity purchases scheduled this year.  Bailey shared information on the Resilient Food Systems Infrastructure (RFSI) program.  States and territories will work in partnership with USDA to make competitive sub-awards up to $420 million to support infrastructure in the middle of the supply chain for domestic food and farm businesses and other eligible entities.

USA Rice members also met with Surface Transportation Board (STB) Member Michelle Schultz, and staff from the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Railroads.  Keith Glover, an Arkansas rice miller, conveyed challenges the U.S. rice industry faces with domestic rail transportation.

“The lack of availability in rail cars over the last few years has cost USA Rice member companies millions of dollars,” Glover said.  “In addition to car shortages, our members are increasingly forced to reject cars due to the presence of foreign materials and other sanitation issues.  They fear long-term impacts, such as rejected shipments at destination and customer loss due to unreliable deliveries.  USA Rice members cannot afford to risk continued delayed or rejected shipments because of these external variables impacting our ability to transport clean and safe food.”

Schultz was empathetic to the challenges plaguing U.S. rice millers and merchants, and was encouraged to hear rice shippers felt some relief following USA Rice meetings with STB last year.  STB staff encouraged further discussion with rail companies to address concerns.

Glover also took the lead at a meeting with Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) Commissioner Christy Goldsmith Romero where he explained how the futures contract is only for rough rice and is thinly traded.

“In an effort to improve the rough rice futures contract, USA Rice has an established working group to monitor and evaluate the contract, educate farmers and others in the industry on the contract, and identify areas for improvement,” said Glover.  “We also value our representation on the CFTC Agricultural Advisory Committee.  Jason Wheeler, a grain merchandising specialist at White Commercial Corporation, is our current representative on the Committee and we hope he can continue providing critical counsel for the Commission on the U.S. rice industry.”