The overriding farm bill principle should be equity for all crops and regions from both a policy and budget perspective,Rep. Rick Crawford (R-Ark.) and 12 other House Rice Caucus members told House Agriculture Committee leaders in a June 19 letter. Crawford, a member of the House Agriculture Committee, co-chairs the House Rice Caucus with Rep. Dennis Cardoza (D-Calif.).

The lawmakers expressed strong support for three principles, emphasizing that they want to work with committee leaders "to ensure these provisions are included in the farm bill that is reported from the committee." The central purpose of farm policy should be "to provide effective protection for producers," they said. With elimination of direct payments, the Caucus members support "the enhancement of counter-cyclical policies to provide a true price loss protection coverage option..." in addition to a revenue-based option, to enable producers to choose the best program that meets their risk management needs.

Rice Caucus members oppose any further changes to current farm safety-net eligibility policy and support setting payment limits at levels that reflect "the current realities of commercially viable farms...and that take into account that all new [safety net policies] in the bill will be loss triggered." Improving and protecting crop insurance also is important to the caucus members, who urged the committee to include in its farm bill provisions that allow the rice industry to fully pursue development of "new and effective crop insurance products."