Travis Satterfield, a Mississippi rice farmerspeaking on behalf of the U.S. Rice Producers Association and the USA Rice Federation, rejected the idea of a one-size-fits-all program for farmers across the nation.

“There is a great diversity in agriculture in this country,” Satterfield testified. “We have different crops, different farming practices, different rainfall seasons. I think it is very, very difficult to have one program that fits everybody…

“We need a program that is financially meaningful to producers. The best way to do that is have (each commodity) craft a program that best fits their needs.”

Satterfield was asked why crop insurance doesn’t work for rice as well as it does for other crops. “The first component I think in protection from crop insurance is yield. We do not have variability in yield that you have in other crops. As an irrigated crop, our yield is fairly constant.

“So, our main support from crop insurance would have to be a revenue-type program. It wouldn’t be so much a yield protectant but (be concerned with) a price component. That’s why we’ve grappled with trying to find a crop insurance program that would fit in a rice situation where there is a pretty standard yield. Variability in price is a big factor.”

Stabenow said Louisiana rice growers “say ‘just open up Cuba and we’re fine.’ In California, rice growers are looking for a county-level revenue program. I’m wondering why that approach doesn’t work for rice growers in other regions.”

The big problem, answered Satterfield “is, basically, in the United States we have two types of rice. The Mid-South basically produces a long-grain rice. California produces a medium- or short-grain. Those are different types and go to different markets. The medium-grain rice has a more stable market and the long-grain market changes quite a bit.

“In order to craft a revenue program, you need a constant price – a situation you don’t have in long-grain rice like you do in medium-grain. So, even though it’s the same commodity, it’s (composed) of different types and there are different marketing situations. That’s why we have some differences of opinion in the rice industry.”