USA Rice Federation Chairman Jackie Loewer and USA Rice Producers' Group Chairman Frank Rehermann wrote last week to nearly 40 U.S. representatives from rice states urging them to oppose harmful farm policy amendments to the fiscal year (FY) 2012 agriculture appropriations bill.  They also expressed deep concerns about media reports suggesting U.S. farm policy might be singled out for disproportionate budget cuts as part of debt ceiling and deficit reduction negotiations in Washington.  Loewer and Rehermann are rice producers in Louisiana and California, respectively.

The U.S. House of Representatives is expected to begin debate on its FY 2012 agriculture appropriations bill tomorrow.  The House Appropriations Committee has sent a FY 2012 agriculture appropriations bill to the House that proposes to prohibit funds from being used for farm program payments to those with an adjusted gross income (AGI) exceeding $250,000.  Current law sets a three-year average AGI cap of $750,000 on farm income and $500,000 on non-farm income for farm program eligibility.

Reports about farm policy cuts as part of the debt ceiling and deficit reduction negotiations indicate the reductions could exceed those proposed by the bipartisan National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, Loewer and Rehermann wrote.  They said the commission recommended that U.S. farm policy's share of cuts be in proportion to its impact on the total budget, which is about one quarter of 1 percent.

"Voting for legislation that increases the debt ceiling while dismantling U.S. farm policy would injure U.S. producers and the communities and jobs that depend on them," the USA Rice leaders wrote.