California rice producer Frank Rehermann testified yesterday before the House Agriculture Committee at its field hearing here. The committee is holding a series of field hearings across the country to hear growers' perspectives on the current bill and what changes might be needed for the 2012 version.

Rehermann, chairman of the USA Rice Producers' Group, was one of 11 witnesses to testify. The others were primarily specialty crop growers, dairy and cattle producers.

There were seven members of Congress at the hearing, including House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) and Ranking Member Frank Lucas (R-Okla.). Other committee members who attended were Reps. Dennis Cardoza (D-Calif.), Jim Costa (D-Calif.), Mike Conaway (R-Texas), and Walt Minnick (D-Idaho). Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) also joined the committee at the hearing.

Rehermann's testimony centered on the importance of maintaining the safety net for rice producers and highlighted the extensive environmental, conservation, and wildlife benefits that rice production provides in California. The other witnesses focused largely on the need for additional funding for conservation and specialty crop programs, market promotion, pest and disease prevention, and immigration issues.