A U.S. Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service report, Factors Behind the Global Rise in Rice Prices in 2008 (http://www.ers.usda.gov/Publications/RCS/May09/RCS09D01/RCS09D01.pdf), attributes the sharp increase in rice prices last year to trade restrictions imposed by major suppliers, panic buying by several large importers, a weak dollar, and record oil prices among other causes.

While rice prices have declined from historic highs, they remain well above pre-2007 levels, the report says. Despite export restrictions by other major rice supplying countries, the United States did not restrict rice exports and remained a reliable supplier.