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A bleak outlook for rice farmers

An ag economist says the balance sheet for rice farmers in 2022 doesn’t look great.  Texas A&M’s Joe Outlaw recently told House Ag Committee members, “The only farms we have that really aren’t going to cash flow this year are rice farms,” he says.  “And two-thirds of them will not cash flow.  We have 15 (in our study) – so 10 out of 15 will not cash flow.”

Arkansas Congressman Rick Crawford says safety net programs like PLC aren’t working for rice farmers and Outlaw agreed.  Outlaw says the infrastructure for rice is different than other commodities and the market is impacted differently. “Trade distortions from other countries,” he says.  “There are a lot of reasons why rice is different, but certainly I would think that there would cause for this cbody and the larger body to do something for rice starting this year.” Input prices for rice crops continue to rise, while the price for the commodity hasn’t increased proportionately.

He says without adjustments to programs the rice industry could lose producers at an unprecedented pace. While the U.S. doesn’t rank in the Top 10 in the world for rice production, it is the world’s 5th largest exporter.

Rice is primarily produced in six states, contributing more than $34 billion to the U.S. economy.

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