In a letter to Rep. Larry Combest, chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, the USRPA urged Congress to incorporate into the farm bill a comprehensive set of recommendations for improvement and reform of US food assistance programs.

The Association, which represents farmers in all six rice-producing states, joined the Agri-PVO Food Aid Working Group, a coalition of producer and international relief organizations, in developing the framework to improve the effectiveness of food assistance programs.

“USRPA was pleased to work with a ‘who’s who’ of other commodity and international relief agencies over the past six months to develop the International Food Security Act,” said Nolen Canon, chairman of the U S Rice Producers Association and a farmer from Tunica, Miss. “We are especially pleased that we could work cooperatively with the Rice Millers Association and the U.S. Rice Producers Group on these legislative recommendations that, if enacted, will serve the best interests of rice producers, rice millers, and the entire rice industry.”

The essential elements of the International Food Security Act include:

Providing a reliable supply of food aid, including bulk, processed and value-added, that can be integrated into well-planned, multi-year initiatives.

Each fiscal year at least 5.6 million metric tons of a mix of commodities should be made available for food aid, valued at approximately $2.85 billion.

Food aid should not be supply driven, but rather should be a sustainable, long-term commitment based on needs and best uses for humanitarian and development assistance.

Program procedures should be overhauled to make them transparent, flexible and user friendly, and to enhance the programs’ public-private partnership.

The coalition identified two general problems that currently create inefficiencies in US food assistance programs: (1) assistance levels remain inconsistent, with tonnages fluctuating from 3 million metric tons to 9 million metric tons per year over the past decade, and (2) administrative procedures create difficulty in the program development and approval processes.

A copy of the coalition letter to Chairman Combest and materials explaining the provisions of the proposed legislation can be found on the USRPA web site, www.usriceproducers.com.