In recent weeks, USA Rice has worked closely with other major commodity groups to express strong opposition to the Grassley payment limitation amendment and educate members of Congress on the devastating impact it could have on U.S. agriculture and our rural communities.

Opposition to Grassley appears to be picking up steam due in part to USA Rice efforts. Some members of Congress that originally supported the amendment are joining the fight against it, writing letters to farm bill conferees expressing their opposition to Grassley and urging that at least $49 billion of the $73.5 billion in additional funds budgeted for agriculture be used for safety net programs for producers.

An analysis reported to Congress by the Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute early in March revealed the negative impact the Grassley amendment would have on the cotton and rice industries. This resulted in several more senators changing their minds; they now oppose Grassley. USA Rice is working with senators that have expressed interest in signing letters to the conferees expressing this opposition.

USRPG and USA Rice are working hard to achieve four priorities on payment limitations:

  • retaining full access to the marketing loan program under current law;
  • achieving equal payment limits for husband and wife;
  • retaining the three entity rule; and
  • striking the 1,000 hours of labor and active personal management qualifier.

A new Congressional Budget Office estimate issued mid-March adds $6.3 billion in cost to the Senate bill over 10 years. It’s not clear as of this writing what impact this could have on the farm bill conference report that is ultimately issued, but it may weaken the Senate’s position.

Visit the USA Rice web site at www.usarice.com for the latest farm bill updates and other rice industry information.

Don Bransford is a Colusa, Calif., rice producer. He chairs the U.S. Rice Producers’ Group and USA Rice Federation Government Affairs Committee.

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