• House Agriculture Committee Looks at Global Subsidies

    by Colleen Klem | Jun 05, 2015
    House Ag Committee Chairman Mike Conaway
     Mike Conaway
    WASHINGTON, DC -- The House Committee on Agriculture held a hearing this week to review and discuss the trade distorting impact of farm subsidies in other countries and whether these subsidies may result in violations of subsidy rules in the World Trade Organization (WTO).  
     
    Craig Thorn of DTB Associates, LLC and Dr. Darren Hudson of Texas Tech provided testimony.  Thorn noted that the run-up in subsidies in the countries that his firm examined -- China, India, Brazil, Turkey, and Thailand -- began about a decade ago and have continued unabated. Thorn said much of the data was collected from reports by overseas offices of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Foreign Agriculture Service because farm subsidies are rarely reported to the WTO in a timely fashion, and because some countries use faulty methodology to make reported subsidy levels appear smaller than actual outlays.  The domestic support policies of these advanced developing countries, which are both key competitors and customers of U.S. agriculture, have a global impact. They have stimulated production, displaced imports, and, in many cases increased exports.  
     
    "The U.S., as the biggest agricultural exporter, suffers most from these distortions," said Thorn.
     
    "This was a very timely and important hearing," said USA Rice COO Bob Cummings. "As the importance of the farm bill safety net grows for U.S. producers, Congress should understand that support for agriculture in key foreign countries continues strong. Both witnesses, and the questions from Committee Members, highlighted the importance of a vibrant U.S. voice at WTO headquarters to set the record straight about agriculture subsidies. USA Rice very much supports this initiative."
       
  • US Rice Industry Weighs in on Impact of Trade with Cuba

    by Colleen Klem | Jun 02, 2015
    Riceland Foods' Terry Harris (center)
     Riceland Food's Terry Harris
    WASHINGTON, DC -- Today the U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) held a public hearing for their section 332 study entitled "Overview of Cuban Imports of Goods and Services and Effects of U.S. Restrictions." Terry Harris of Riceland Foods represented USA Rice on the first panel.
     
    Following prepared testimony, Commissioners questioned panelists, including Harris, representatives from the U.S. Grains Council, the Dairy Farmers of America, and the chairwoman of the U.S. Agriculture Coalition for Cuba (USACC), about working with Alimport, the sole agency responsible for imports into Cuba. The Commissioners were interested in panelists' knowledge of financial transactions between Cuba and its current trading partners, and also how relationships between Cuba and its trading partners may be affected by imports from the United States.
     
    The USITC also asked about the impact of trade with Cuba on individual states. 
     
    "Rice from Arkansas and Louisiana could account for approximately three quarters of sales to Cuba in the years immediately following the establishment of normal commercial relations with Cuba," said Harris. "This could be new demand of up to 100,000 metric tons for just these two states, with an estimated value of $46 million at today's prices. We would expect these states to be the dominant suppliers to Cuba for the foreseeable future, but all producing states in the Mid-South will benefit."
     
    The USITC investigation came at the request of the Senate Committee on Finance in response to the Obama Administration's recent shift on relations with Cuba.  
     
    "We expect the report will support the overwhelming majority of U.S. agriculture, including USA Rice, seeking a return to normal commercial relations with Cuba," said USA Rice COO Bob Cummings. 
     
    The complete section 332 report is scheduled for publication on October 15.

     
  • One-on-One with ITC Rice Industry Study

    by Colleen Klem | May 20, 2015
    Rice's new best-seller
     Rice's new best-seller
    ARLINGTON, VA -- Yesterday USA Rice hosted a briefing by members of the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) research team that conducted the yearlong study on the factors and policies affecting the global competitiveness of the U.S. rice industry. The study, "Rice: Global Competitiveness of the U.S. Industry," is known as a Section 332 investigation and examined the rice industry in the U.S. and in major producing and exporting countries, such as China, India, Thailand, Vietnam, Uruguay, and Brazil. 
     
    The study looked at the impact on the U.S. rice industry of exports from competitor countries to the U.S. and traditional U.S. markets like Mexico, Haiti, and West Africa and found that although the U.S. rice is high quality and enjoys favorable tariff treatment from markets such as Mexico and Central America, competition is on the rise.
     
    "We used this is an opportunity for our Washington staff to get deeper into the specifics of the study," said USA Rice President & CEO Betsy Ward. "We're grateful the ITC experts were willing to provide their insight and interpretations, share anecdotes, and answer many questions from our staff."
     
  • USA Rice Hails ITC Study of Global Rice Industry

    by User Not Found | May 14, 2015
    ITC chart
    WASHINGTON, DC – One year to the day after the request from the House Ways and Means Committee, the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) has released its study of factors and policies affecting the global competitiveness of the U.S. rice industry.  The study, “Rice: Global Competitiveness of the U.S. Industry,”  is known as a Section 332 investigation and examined the rice industry in the U.S. and in major producing and exporting countries, such as China, India, Thailand, Vietnam, Uruguay, and Brazil, and found that the world rice market is a confusing, and often unfair place.

    “The global rice market is characterized by significant government intervention in both imports and exports,” the report says.  “[This] has affected trade and price trends in the world rice market more than it has for most other agricultural products.” 

    The study looked at the impact on the U.S. rice industry of exports from competitor countries to the U.S. and traditional U.S. markets like Mexico, Haiti, and West Africa and found that although the U.S. rice is high quality and enjoys favorable tariff treatment from markets such as Mexico and Central America, competition is on the rise.

    The report finds that while tariff and non-tariff barriers have major impacts on trade in rice, support programs also take their toll.

    “Consumption support has the largest effect on the global rice market,” the report finds.  “Had such support not been in place in 2013, global paddy production and rice consumption would have been 6.1 million mt lower.  Another factor shaping rice production in non-U.S. countries is government support for inputs such as seed, fertilizer, and fuel.”

    “The study provides detailed evidence that the U.S. rice industry is playing by the rules, but is at a decided disadvantage from some of our trading partners who do not,” said Betsy Ward, President & CEO of USA Rice.  “The report points out that support for U.S. farmers continues to decline, while in places like China, Thailand, and India, those supports are going in the opposite direction.”

    The yearlong study is the result of a collaboration between USA Rice and Congressman Charles Boustany (R-LA), a Member of the House Ways & Means Committee and the Committee’s Chairman, Congressman Dave Camp (R-MI).
     
    “We appreciate the leadership of Chairman Camp and Congressman Boustany on bringing these important issues to light on behalf of America’s rice farmers,” said Dow Brantley, an Arkansas rice farmer and Chairman of the USA Rice Federation who participated in the ITC study.  “We’ve said all along that we can compete globally and are willing to compete, but if the system is rigged against us, it makes it quite difficult.” 

    The ITC will conduct a detailed briefing of the study with USA Rice next week and Ward says the rice industry will use this study to advocate for change in foreign government policies that negatively impact the industry's competitiveness.

    Contact:  Michael Klein (703) 236-1458

     
    In a good spot
    ITC chart