The estimate came in a letter from Undersecretary of Agriculture J.B. Penn to Ben Noble, vice president of government affairs with the USA Rice Federation in Arlington, Va. Penn was responding to a query from USA Rice and the Houston-based U.S. Rice Producers Association.

“As you are probably aware, on May 29, 2003, the Secretary (of Agriculture Ann Veneman) announced that final 2002-crop counter-cyclical payments for peanuts, rice and upland cotton will begin this fall,” said Penn. “We appreciate your concerns regarding the timing of these payments and working to get them to producers as soon as possible.”

Penn noted that rice farm prices have averaged just over $4 per hundredweight for the 2002 crop and that USDA projects that about 85 percent of the crop has been sold.

“Thus the final 2002 counter-cyclical payments for 2002-crop rice should be $1.65 per cwt,” he said. “It is the desire of the Department to issue payments to producers as expeditiously and accurately as possible.”

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